What’s weighing you down?
BY THE UNSTUCK DUCK
How much of our baggage isn’t ours to carry?
Money issues. Fears. Racism. Sexism. Misunderstandings. Trauma.
These are just some of the pieces of luggage we carry as we travel through life. Maybe this baggage was passed down from parents, or other authority figures, when we were children. Sometimes we gathered it through experience. Perhaps we picked it up along the side of the roads we have travelled. And often it’s not ours to carry.
I recently started a mastermind group for women entrepreneurs. On our first day, I asked them “what are some of the things that you feel are holding you back from being successful?” The answers came out heavy:
I’m not good enough
I have a fear of failure
I have a fear of success
I have a fear of showing up/being visible
Who will ever buy from ME?
What if I look stupid?
I feel like a fraud / imposter – like I’m just playing at entrepreneurship
Am I even good at this?
If I don’t act, I can’t fail.
Doing the safe/familiar/what everyone else is doing is best.
“You can’t support yourself” doing that.
How will I support myself in retirement ?
Each of these thoughts started somewhere – likely from words and beliefs planted there either consciously or unconsciously from our parents.
The thing is, often our parents were simply doing the best they could at the time. Their efforts to keep us safe resulted in our future “truths” that often lose their context over time.
My parents were the generation born right after WWII. My mom was born in Holland, where my Oma was a nurse and my Opa a dairy farmer. Leaving their families, coming to Canada without knowing the language or anyone here, they worked their asses of to provide a life for my mom and her siblings.
Do you think possibly that Oma and Opa, who were a part of the Dutch Underground that shuttled food and food stamps to those that needed it, that sheltered Jews in their barn, that saw friends and family taken to concentration camps, might have had some context around money (or risk) that would be different from us today? Do you think arriving in a foreign country with two young children and one on the way could be scary? Do you think they could have passed down some of their own baggage to their children, who took it on as their own, only to pass it down to me?
In my coach training through Be More U, I learned a concept called the “context window” which is so relevant – both to these broken records in our heads and to the unrest in the world around us right now. This window that our brains filter information through that is how we judge the world around us. It is framed by our beliefs, attitudes, and opinions, (including our lived experiences and developmental learning) and forms our “truths” about the world.
As data comes in, as events and interactions happen in our lives, we filter it through our window and create judgements about it. Then we act on those judgements and create the results we have in our lives.
The thing is, we never really see a window unless it’s brought to our attention.
In order to “see” a window, it’s usually cracked, tinted, foggy, or dirty. The caulking is aged or crusty. Maybe the frames are different colours, or have cross bars, or are falling apart. And often we think our windows are squeaky clean, only to find that our neighbours have completely different windows based on their own frames, and “truths.”
If you find that you are getting a negative result in your life, or are carrying around some baggage that’s weighing you down, I encourage you to check your context around it.
Are you an entrepreneur? Check your context around money and success.
Struggle in relationships? Check your context around commitment.
Feeling stuck in your job? Check your context around teamwork or leadership.
Want to make a difference in oppression, racism, sexism or any other ism? Check your context around your privilege.
As we uncover the systemic racism and oppression that hold us in ineffective patterns and communication, we are being called to examine our own context windows (and often those of our parents) and equally importantly- to learn more about those of the people around us.
The key to dropping baggage that’s not ours to carry, is to always start with checking your context. This is the most important work we can do to make change our results and our world.
Where in your life are you feeling stuck, stagnant, or heavy? What unnecessary or ineffective baggage are you carrying? What beliefs, opinions, attitudes or truths are no longer serving you?
Teri is a Certified Executive Coach through Royal Roads University, and a graduate of the Purpose Project™. She lives in Victoria BC with her husband Jeff, a revolving door of teenagers, her awesome golden mountain dog Indy, and a one-eyed cat named Tallie.
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