Baggage has a mind of its own

We have all learned from countless experiences that our emotional baggage does not listen to reason. It insists on persisting with its irrational, unresponsive, poorly adapted approach to our current situations. It apparently cannot change by our trying to fix it, oppose it or defy it's continuing interference. Our baggage takes on a life of its own that seems to be sustainable, resilient and enduring.

One way to understand this remarkable resilience is the systemic complexity of baggage that I explored yesterday. Emotional baggage "covers all the bases" of dangers and opportunities while keeping a lot of different issues in balance. Any change in that would upset the delicate balance and spawn neglect of some essential considerations.

Another way to comprehend how baggage appears so enduring considers how it thinks and has a mind of it's own. Baggage reveals the kind of thinking our mammalian brain performs. We literally "go to the dogs" when our baggage thought processes kick in. We regress to animal logic that cannot evolve into civilized conduct, human intelligence or higher states of reasoning. Here's some of what our baggage thinking can and cannot do:
  • It cannot understand or get convinced by the meaning of written or spoken languages / It can get convinced to change by irrefutable experiences, consequences and encounters
  • It cannot learn abstractions, conceptualizations or guiding principles / It can learn to avoid dangers and seize opportunities like there is no tomorrow
  • It cannot stop living in fear, fighting for survival or defending itself from attacks / It can appear fearless by becoming reckless and indifferent to long term consequences
  • It cannot find a middle ground, formulate a combination of contrary positions or identify the gray area between extremes / It can form strong opinions and lasting grudges
  • It cannot make decisions based on conflicting considerations, delayed gratification or complex tradeoffs / It can jump to conclusions, act out of desperation and zero in on the immediate payoff
  • It cannot get creative, redefine the problem or apply metaphors to the situation / It can take things at face value and dwell on literal evidence to know how to react
  • It cannot relate to other's outlooks, give them the feeling of getting understood or consider opposing interests / It can seek to control others, overpower their defiance and curtail their dissension

We merely prolong our misery when we expect our baggage to listen to reason. We dealing with the mind of every four legged mammal that sits on top of our reptile brain. It's good for survival, reproduction and safety in a wide variety of situations. When we understand what we're dealing with, how it's limited and what works to convince it to change, we've established a basis to make some real headway.

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