Reprint & translation from: https://rerubabs.nl/gedachtengoed/bagage/ (November 16, 2014).
In recent weeks, I was involved in workshops regarding the theme of culture change.
Together think about integrity at work, a solution for an unexpected setback and our future in an ever-changing world. In all cases, the key issue is how you as an individual, and certainly as a team, deal with that. Discover how your own behavior is decisive for success and pleasure. That we always have a choice how we position ourselves. In other 1-to-1 coaching sessions that theme also came forward again, and I realized that what seems so obvious to me is not so easy for others.
As an individual, we join groups to fulfill certain needs. In small, well-organized groups everything seems clear, but as soon as you realize that your own group is part of a larger organization (which is in turn also is part of something else again), and that inside and outside the organization there are other groups at your level pursuing other interests, it gradually becomes complex. We identify ourselves with the group to which we belong, and then look at other people and groups that we think we depend on. Our brains perfectly know how to project the “guilt” or “cause” of a problem beyond our own sphere of influence. The dichotomy “we” and “she” is then an easy excuse for not achieving your goals.
Truth is, of course, that nobody knows what you want to achieve. You also didn’t consult everyone involved in your activity. In fact, even the people around you, your own circle, probably do not know why you want to do or achieve something! Just recall the iceberg of influencing behavior. And that is exactly the choice you have: into what extent do you open yourself up, and do you compromise to the wishes of someone else to eventually get better together. Negotiating on a more essential level. That is the ultimate alignment of my world with your world, both unique and only known by the owner himself. So that through language we can influence and shape the universe between our personal worlds.
Language is an important tool for not having to settle these alignments again and again. As a child, we learn the names that others give to the our new impressions, and we learn how we (generally) can deal with the common consensus. Over time, we collect a lot of baggage, and grow our own iceberg with experiences and dogmas. It is interesting to see that people from other cultures, through the use of their mother tongue, have lots of troubles understanding us, despite the fact that they are learning our language. This is partly because their experiences from the past are experienced in a way that we do not know (and of course also vice versa). Communication then gets positioned in a completely different dimension!
In times of change, we try to find things in our old baggage that help us, and to which we can refer. Our choice is determined, as it were, by what we have available to prior agreements and experiences. We try to to play sure, and make the effect of our choice predictable. And that is exactly where the pinch is …. Changes and its results by definition are not predictable! Why then should we search in our luggage? Why do we drag all that stuff around again and again, even though we have not done anything with it for ages? Especially on a personal level, we are full of convictions and behavioral patterns that used to be useful once, but have not been relevant for a long time now. Whether it concerns relationships and expectations, family events, or situations at work, that does not matter.
Whatever we experienced, of course it is there to stay! There is no point in trying to forget situations and lessons from the past. They are an integral part of your life. But you can choose some of those historical lessons to have a smaller (or no) influence. Something annoying or tragic does not disappear from your life, but it can get a place without interfering each time. If you succeed, you are open to new things and you can master the changes in your life. Alone, and together with others, you discover new things, and reform your world. You do not have to take all your luggage with you on your journey through life. You can leave things behind without forgetting.
It is just like with travel luggage, and the suitcases that have been waiting for years in the attic or in the storage room. What do you do with it? Here are 10 tips, both practical and metaphorical:
1. In your life, never take more with you than you can carry.
If you become dependent on others who carry your luggage, you create obligations and expectations.
2. Only take what you need in the coming period.
What you lack is always somewhere to get, should the situation arise.
It is only about the future, not about the past.
3. Make sure that your luggage is packed in a practical way so that you can move easily and, if necessary, have your hands free.
Your life baggage must never become a hindrance for you.
4. Provide a sturdy package, that is the best guarantee for the contents!
Cherish your valuable experiences, they are worth it!
5. A suitcase that you have not opened for 5 years probably does not contain anything that you still need.
You have probably already grown over your past.
6. If you open old suitcases, do so to empty them, not to close them again soon.
Nothing is as unsatisfactory as knowing what you drag, but can’t do anything with it!
7. Know that your old luggage may be of value to other people; you can get rid of your historical ballast in a meaningful way.
There are valuable lessons even in annoying memories. Nothing is as disarming and fraternal as giving openness about its own history.
8. When you are on the road, make sure you always have a little space left in your luggage. You come across so many interesting things in your life!
9. Do not collect too much on the road, especially if it does not belong to you. That can be illegal and cause many problems.
Do not be a vampire; limit yourself to what really belongs to you, and let others enjoy what is theirs.
10. Take snapshots of your luggage. Then you always have a memory when you say goodbye sooner or later. More is probably not necessary!
Give old issues a place, and then leave them behind you. Once buried, you leave the past alone (and vice versa).
A few years later I added an eleventh line to make your course dependent on your luggage:
Rule 11 for backpackers: “Only travel where you have the appropriate luggage for!”