Mindfulness, Suitcases, and The Heavy Stuff We Carry

by | Apr 11, 2023 | Human Stories, Mindfulness

I spent days packing for vacation. Before the big final zip, I peeked inside my suitcase. I’d thought of every scenario. My packing was ‘tight’ and I felt pretty darn proud of myself. I’d packed only what I needed, not a single thing more. I began challenging that thought and my choices as I climbed the eight flights up to our AirBnB. 

Every step forward was grueling- nearly impossible. My tidy suitcase was ridiculously heavy. What the heck had I packed? When I finally reached the front door, my energy was zapped. I collapsed from lugging that sucker around. Once I recovered, I cracked it open and realized I was carrying far more than I needed. If I’d left half of it at home, I could have traveled lighter and taken those steps a heck of a lot easier. If you’re wondering about now what my poor packing story has to do with you, and my job as a life coach, keep reading.

The Stuff We Carry

I’ve learned that lugging a heavy ass suitcase up a long flight of stairs is a lot like the baggage we carry through our lives. Think about emotions, thoughts, beliefs and feelings as things you can pack, unpack and re-pack, any time you choose. I created what I call The Suitcase Framework™ that I use in my life coaching practice to help my clients become aware of what they’re lugging around. The realizations they have are super powerful because awareness leads to action.

What I’ve Learned From My Clients

My clients have taught me that most of us are lugging around more heavy, toxic, useless crap than we realize. By crap, I mean stress, worry, trauma, anger, guilt, fear, deep neural conditioning, regret, self limiting beliefs, false narratives, negative self-talk, and doubt. They occupy the most space in our emotional, mental, and energetic suitcases. Consequently, they skew how we relate to ourselves and the world around us. 

The negative stuff we carry can manifest in a variety of ways: unregulated damaging emotions, heavy thoughts, heavy feelings, physical illness and weight that we can’t seem to lose- energy so heavy it keeps us in bed. I’ve learned the stuff we carry can compile over decades, blindly passed down from generation to generation. If left unchecked, the stuff we carry can become so damn heavy we eventually, collapse under its weight.

Mindfulness Gives Us Choices

Here’s the good news. Just  like we can choose what we pack for vacation, we hold unlimited capacity to choose the emotions, feelings, thoughts and beliefs that we carry with us through life. So why not pack the stuff that propels us and helps us thrive? You know courage, joy, confidence, forgiveness, self-love, presence, understanding, wonder, peace, curiosity, playfulness, creativity and the like? Awareness gives us choice that can lead us to action, if we’re courageous enough. Mindfulness is the gateway. Practicing mindfulness makes it possible for us to ‘be with’ whatever we discover and choose what we want to do with it. With mindfulness at the forefront, we can identify the useless crap we’ve been lugging around. We can choose to channel Marie Kondo and toss it to free up space for the energy, thoughts, beliefs and feelings that will serve us better. Mindfulness gives us the awareness we need to travel lighter through life and thrive.

Here are three of the framework reflection questions I offer my life coaching clients:

  1. What is weighing me down today and preventing me from moving forward?
  2. What am I willing to unpack?
  3. What do I want to make space for and why?

If you’re up to learn even more, tune into podcast episode 2. 

*If you’re ready to bring mindfulness into your life and pack smarter to travel forward, let’s talk. 

Cole Baker-Bagwell

Master Certified Professional Coach

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