Imagine you are in a small boat in the middle of the ocean. You are paddling towards a small island where you will spend 3 months of peaceful relaxation. In the boat you have gathered all of your favorite things. But as you paddle towards the island, you realize there is a small hole in your boat. Water is coming in faster than you can bale it out. Before long you realize that your only hope is to paddle to the island as fast as you can and arrive before the boat sinks completely. But as you paddle harder and harder, you realize that your baggage on the boat is too heavy to allow you to move quickly.
The only immediate solution is to get rid of excess weight by throwing most of your baggage overboard. It is that or sink. You look over your things and hesitate because many of the items have been a part of your life for many years. Eventually you make the tough decision and start dumping them over, one by one, into the ocean. Sure enough, the cargo gets lighter, and the boat begins to ride higher in the water. Relieved, you begin paddling forward again and make it to the island just as the boat sinks completely below the water.
This is a dramatic example but it applies to each of us. We tend to get attached to things that we have accumulated over the years. Some of them might have some practical value. Some others are just clutter.
Our mental life follows the same fate. We carry with us a lot of things in our heads along the years – our life story, emotional attachments, beliefs and other things which can linger in our minds for many years.
Some of them are useless ideas that drag us down considerably. Some are emotional debris from difficult moments in our past. Some are just beliefs which we have attached ourselves to for no apparent justifiable reason. Some others are just self-destructive habits and fears.
So if you were in the sinking boat situation, what is the mental baggage you could throw overboard? Here are some ideas:
1. Let go of taking things too personally: Very often we are disturbed emotionally because we interpret people’s words and actions from a very subjective perspective. When we take things personally we get irritated, hurt and disappointed. When you look at life from a more detached and objective point of view, we stay emotionally balanced and focused on our priorities.
2. Let go of counterproductive habits: These are the repetitive patterns of behavior that obstruct or distract you from constructive and productive behavior. They can be anything from watching too much TV and overeating to self-destructive behavior such as drug abuse.
3. Let go of negative thinking: Pessimistic thoughts and negative attitudes keep you locked in a dark aura that permeates in everything you do. It’s a dangerous line to follow. Know that thoughts influence the world around us. Enough said.
4. Let go of self-criticism: Many times we are our biggest pain in the neck. We criticize ourselves with the best of intentions but then go over the acceptable limit. Criticism then turns to disempowering messages. Let go of it and be kind and gentle to yourself.
5. Let go of prejudice: Prejudice keeps you bitter and resentful. It restricts your opportunities to connect meaningfully with others.
6. Let go of compulsive thinking: Do you keep on doing something just because you feel you have to do it without any apparent reason? It’s time to honestly reflect on its usefulness and its side-effects.
7. Let go of the need for others’ approval: We often tend to seek approval by others. This is an attention-seeking behavior and one which threatens our self-confidence and authenticity.
8. Let go of limiting beliefs: Most of our limits are self-imposed. Life doesn’t have defined limits. Our beliefs do. Learn to identify those beliefs which narrow down your possibilities for action and let go of them.
9. Let go of grudges: Let me put it this way – grudges are bad for your heart. Keep them long enough or numerous enough and your health will eventually suffer. Research is showing the relationship between heart disease and emotions such as anger and grudges.
10. Let go of the “I’ll do it tomorrow” attitude: This is a delaying tactic of your subconscious saboteur trying to keep you from accomplishing important tasks. Try to be aware of it when you think it and consciously push yourself to do at least the first part of it. Naturally you will then continue the whole task because the hard part is only the beginning.
11. Let go of past heartbreaks: A heartbreak can take quite a long time to heal. Your heart is locked as your mind keeps on hovering over the same thought. The thing to realize is that in heartbreaks it is not the loss that make you suffer but the idea you create in your heads about that loss.
12. Let go of useless things: We also attach ourselves to things of all sort. Sometimes we clutter our life with useless objects. Let go of them and simplify your working and living environment.
13. Let go of bad company: If there are people around you that are insincere, harbor envy, are highly pessimistic or disempowering, keep away from them.
14. Let go of the idea that you are a product of your past: One very common mistake we fall into is the belief that we are determined by our past experiences. This limits our view on future possibilities since we are stuck in believing that the future can only be more of the same as our past.
15. Let go of identifying yourself with your job/role: This is one of the risks of modern day life. Since roles are always becoming more specialized we think that we are part of our roles. This makes us lose perspective of our true nature.
Most of the things holding us back in life are self-imposed; they are not placed upon us by anyone else. As you begin to unload the baggage you will feel your boat becoming lighter and you will begin to move forward much faster.
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