In the last post, I wrote about how we tend to accumulate material possessions as we go through life. Take a moment to look around your house and notice the stuffs that are lying around. If you are to box up all the stuffs that you haven’t used in a month, how much more empty is the house? Do you really need all those stuffs? If not, why do you still have them around? If you need to move, won’t they be like baggage you need to lug around making your move so much harder?
There are also other kinds of baggage that we tend to carry as we journey in life – the emotional baggage. These are the negative thoughts or feelings that burden our soul such as fears, guilt, worry, doubt, weariness, grief, and disappointment.
They can be induced from our obsession of accumulating material possessions that we don’t really need with the money that we haven’t earned. We charge our credit cards mindlessly, and before we realize it, we are so deep in debts. As we struggle to make ends meet, the worry and stress from living paycheck to paycheck strains our marriage and relationships. It most likely puts a toll on our physical health and emotional being too.
Other times, the emotional baggage comes from the trials that life throws at us.
When we break up from a long-term romantic relationship, we can be heartbroken for a while. We avoid new relationship like a plague because we are scared of opening up our heart and get hurt again.
When a family member gets diagnosed with an incurable disease, we have to deal with worry of the uncertain future, the weariness of providing medical cares around the clock and the fears of dying.
During my recent trial, I felt assortments of these negative feelings too. Losing the life that I have built for 16 years makes me feel betrayed by life. All the dreams and plans for my future were broken to pieces.
I grieved the life that I lost for a long time. Fear and loneliness reigned in my heart as I did not know what to do next and how I was going to get out of this. I had to find strength in God and within myself. And I did find it.
Learning How to Release The Emotional Burdens
I learned how to leave the emotional baggage at the foot of the cross. I learned this concept from the book Traveling Light by Max Lucado. He based his book on God’s promise on Psalm 23 that the Lord is our shepherd.
Lucado wrote in an easy to understand language on how to deal with the emotional baggage that we lug around as we journey in life. The emotional baggage can take form in the burden of a small god, doing things your own way, weariness, worry, hopelessness, guilt, arrogance, death, grief, fear, loneliness, shame, disappointments, envy, doubt and homesickness.
These burdens are like weights on our shoulders slowing us down in our journey. They make things so much more difficult than they are supposed to be. In extreme cases, people have taken their own lives because they are so weary of life and lose all hope that things are going to get better. Don’t ever lose hope. The difficult season WILL pass. We need to learn how to lay these burdens down.
It was not easy for me to apply the principles on these books in my own life. My own faith took a major beating during my trial. I had prayed and prayed that God would come through and save me from this trial. But, I didn’t get my miracle. I had to trust that He had a bigger purpose for not removing this thorn on my back for the moment.
There are still days when fears, worry, loneliness, weariness and other negative feelings still reign in my heart. But, every morning I keep talking to God and listen to inspiring Christian songs, so my mind gets on board with what my heart knows true about His goodness. Every morning, I lay my burdens down at the foot of the cross and continue on with my daily activities.
If you are not a believer, you can try another technique to get rid of negative feelings so they don’t linger too long. I use this too throughout the day.
Whenever negative feelings intrude your mind, go to your quiet place. This can be a room you can go into or just in your mind if you happen to be at work or other social settings. Focus on my breath for 10 counts. It’ll interrupt your negative thinking patterns.
Next, picture in your mind that you are on a hike up a mountain carrying a heavy backpack. It’s filled with bags labeled with the negative feelings you are experiencing. You are huffing and puffing on the climb. When you can’t take it anymore, stop for a moment. Picture yourself taking out these bags one by one and lay them down on the ground (or picture yourself throwing them out as far as you can). Do this until you have none left in your backpack.
Now, pick up your now-light backpack and continue on your climb. Picture yourself smiling and enjoying your journey now that you don’t carry so many burdens on your back. Race to the top and enjoy the gorgeous view.
All of your problems will not go away when you are done with this exercise. But, it will give you a more resilient mind whenever negative feelings intrude your peace of mind. You want to feel the negative feelings and acknowledge them, but don’t let them define you. Believe in yourself that you have the capacity inside you to deal with whatever life throws at you. Then, work on figuring out what you can do next to solve the problems you have on hand.
As Lucado says in his book, we are not meant to carry these burdens. We’ve got to learn to put them down or release them, so we can run the course that God has set for us. I love this quote from the book:
You can read his book for more details on why and how you can release any emotional burdens you have.
Releasing both material and emotional burdens will make our life simpler. Life IS simple. We are born, we live and we die. We have no choice on either the first part (where and into which family we were born) or the last part (how or when we die). But, we do have a choice on how we live our lives.
How do you want to live your live?
Do you want to spend your life chasing material things – the next trendy gadgets, closet full of shoes and clothes that you never get to wear, or the bigger house with loads of empty rooms that will take hours of your life to keep them clean and tidy?
Or do you want to be content with less material stuffs and focus more on experiences that contribute to your happiness and growth to become a better version of yourself like traveling the world and learn about other cultures?
Do you want to hold on to grudges and anger towards people who did you wrong?
Do you want to hold on to fears of the unknown or release them and believe that whatever you are going through is preparing you for something greater?
If life has knocked you down, do you want to stay down there or do you want to get back up and join the fight again?
Do you want to travel light or to keep huffing and puffing with all the burdens you are carrying?
I have learned my lessons. From this point forward, I CHOOSE to travel light – literally and figuratively.
Would you join me?