overstuffed-suitcaseHave you ever noticed when you go on vacation and pack bags that you end up taking too many things that you never use or wear? For some reason, we like to carry all of our favorite items with us. We like to stuff it all in a suitcase to make sure we have everything we need. Then we wonder why we have to sit on the suitcase to close it or why we have to pay for extra weight when we check-in at the airport.

Just as we carry our favorite things we also tend to carry our favorite habits and baggage from the past. Habits and beliefs such as “I am not good enough. I don’t deserve to be in a loving relationship. I will never have enough money. I can’t start my own business, since I will for sure fail. I will never be able to lose weight.” These beliefs are bad habits. You can also refer to them as karmic tendencies if you believe that earlier thoughts, feelings, and actions create future realities. We become accustomed to telling ourselves the same stories over and over until we believe them to be true. When we believe that the stories are true then we bring them to life and they become our reality.

The only way these stories will fall away is if we don’t give them a life of their own. We must break the cycle. How? First, be aware and know that your thoughts are powerful, second, identify one thought that binds you, finally, practice turning to something positive when the negative thought or behavior comes up.

Step One- know that your thoughts or that ‘little voice inside’ are quite powerful. Have you ever thought about someone and then that person called you? Did the voice inside tell you to take action on something, but you did not, only to have something disappointing happen a few months later. Then you beat yourself up and say, “I should have listened to my gut feeling.” Instances such as these are constant reminders that our thoughts create our reality and WE KNOW WHAT WE NEED TO DO.

Once you understand that your re-occurring thoughts eventually take a life of their own, then move to Step Two – identify one thought/action that you continue to feed, which has grown into a monster that sits on your shoulder. Oh, let’s say you are fixated on ice cream, but beat yourself up after you eat it. You love ice cream and eat it every night even though you know it is not good for you. Around noon, you start to think about what flavor you will have after dinner. Then you serve yourself a small amount. While sitting on the couch, you start to rationalize why having more is a good idea. You go back to the freezer. The ice cream now has a life of its own, since it now controls you as you walk back to the freezer for more. There is nothing wrong with eating a small amount of ice cream, but the fact that you spent most of the day thinking about ice cream – this is the problem. You gave the ice cream a life of its own. Now there is one more, heavy item to pack in your suitcase that continues to bulge at the seams.

The only way we will ever break free from destructive tendencies and thoughts is to know that they do not belong to who we really are at the core. We created the habitual thoughts and were possibly even born with some tendencies, but we do not have to be conditioned by this baggage.

We can start today to create a new, more positive habit by practicing Step Three- each time a thought or behavior knocks on your door, don’t answer it, and instead turn to something higher by reciting an affirmation, mantra, or prayer, or turn to something positive by bringing an image to mind of something that you love or a favorite place. You can also practice doing something helpful for someone else. Over time, when you stop feeding the monster on your shoulder, it will starve and disappear. Your suitcase will be filled with only that which is positive and uplifting.

When I left my job and NYC, I started to travel. I packed so many bags and after I checked-in for my first flight and paid baggage fees, I realized I made a mistake. In addition to each time I got on an airplane, I had to pay for extra bags, I also could not carry everything. I felt weighed down. Over the months, my bags became less and less. I left hiking boots and hiking sticks in a Paris hotel, I mailed things home, and I gave things away. In the end, I had a few clothing items, my yoga mat, some flip flops and was very happy. Now when I go somewhere, I take less and less. I also buy less and less. Looking back, the heavy bags I packed were quite symbolic of the heaviness in my life at the time.

You know the saying, less is more. If we continue to carry around our overstuffed baggage then we will not have any room for new items to come into our suitcase, i.e., new jobs, new ideas, new relationships, new power to take action. If we want to become something better, we must be prepared to let go of the ‘somethings’ that hold us back.

How heavy are the bags that you carry around each day? Do you give life to the same thought and behavior patterns that continue to weigh you down? Lighten the load and reach for something higher, something more positive.