Baggage... or Luggage?

I heard someone talk about the difference between baggage and luggage last week and I have been pondering it since.

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Baggage (as we all know) is something we carry which we didn't choose to carry.

Like scars from past trauma. Like mistrust. Like low confidence. Like limiting beliefs.

Baggage is all the ways we get in the way of our own success, of our own power. We use the language of personal baggage in our every day lives (e.g. He's ok but he has a lot of BAGGAGE!). We know baggage as an unfortunate side effect of having lived through difficult 'stuff'. We know baggage as something we have and we can't do much about.

So, what then is luggage? Well, to me it's kind of a classic re-frame, and yet it's more than this, it's being active instead of passive. It is a step toward autonomy which to me is a step toward claiming back your power.

If baggage is un-chosen, given or received through pain and suffering, luggage is chosen in awareness and is packed carefully and carried gently.

I'll give you an example: I went through a tough time a few years ago. I understood my marriage was over and I knew I was bored and unfulfilled in my job. However, I loved the organisation I worked for and I loved my partner. I carried the weight of this horrible ambivalence with me for at least two years. This was baggage. It felt imposed and I felt stuck with it. I believed at that time I would have to see out my days in an unfulfilling marriage and a job which didn't use my skills well. Baggage. Weighty baggage. Baggage which dragged me so far down I almost wasn't functioning.

I then did some work on myself with a Coach and with a Psychotherapist and I reached a revelation: 

I could hardly BELIEVE this but I actually had a choice!

I had a choice about the baggage. I could choose to drag it along with me, this sense of doom and inescapable ambivalence and misery, or I could unpack it, with support, and pack some of it back up and ditch the rest.

So I did this. In full awareness. With love.

This is what I ditched: people pleasing - the ache to please another at my own expense, the need to retain contact and connection in the face of disinterest, the wish to be seen a certain way (loyal, committed, self-sacrificing). And I ditched being strong - the need to hide and deny my vulnerability, the need to suppress my true feelings and with this I ditched my habit of neglecting myself the point of forgetting who I was on occasion! I also ditched some people who didn't trust or believe in me (their stuff, their baggage which they were trying to make me carry). I ditched some ways of being in the world and with others which de-valued me.

And then I went out and I bought some luggage!

What did I keep to pack in my beautiful new luggage? Well, I kept the person I left as a valued and much loved friend. I kept the organisation I left with a contract to use my coaching and Transactional Analysis skills to enhance their work.

And I kept clarity about me; my values, my integrity, my newly honoured commitment to myself, the truth of who I am at my core, my grounded sense of self, my professionalism, my love for my self and others. I kept the learning I did as I did the leaving and I kept valued and good relationships which nourish and fulfil me.

So, there you have it. Baggage and luggage. What an awakening concept, huh? What do you think? 

Lucy Power

Leadership and Success Coach , Autonomy Development Ltd

I am a Therapeutic Success Coach working with people, groups and organisations, I am trained in Transactional Analysis for psychotherapy and organisations as well as being a Barefoot trained Coach and Lead Tutor. I am passionate about the difference TA and Coaching together can make in people's lives. TA gives me a model from which to support you to examine your thinking, feeling and behaviour toward yourself, other people and your world. Together we will hold it all up to the light of Adult scrutiny and you will decide in full awareness what serves you and what doesn't. Bringing your unconscious motivations into your awareness will help you to SUCCEED, whatever this means for you.