Inner Baggage Allowance

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The Value of Inner Baggage
How to Transform Baggage into Assets
The Size of Inner Baggage
The Hidden Treasure


“Every disability conceals a vocation, if only we can find it, which will turn the necessity to glorious gain.”C. S. Lewis

Imagine yourself travelling to an exotic destination with two large suitcases. One case is filled with gorgeous clothes you’ve bought recently for this occasion, the other one contains a range of expensive equipment and useful items related to your hobby. You’re going on holiday and this is your special time. This is the quality time you want to dedicate to the things you really love doing.

On arrival at the airport with your two suitcases plus cabin luggage you see signs saying ‘Let us take all your luggage off your hands forever. Pay only 100 Gold coins!’ You don’t get the hundred gold coins for giving away your treasured luggage, you’d have to pay them.

Why would you give away your precious possessions  and even pay for the privilege?! This luggage contains many of the things that make your trip a comfortable, enjoyable and memorable experience. Without it you might feel quite lost.

We feel very attached to our luggage when we’re far away from home. It provides a sense of identity, security, comfort and enjoyment. If it gets lost in transit we might go to great lengths trying to retrieve it.

Our relationship to our internal baggage is quite different by comparison. We take every opportunity to try to lose it ‘in transit’. We might try to ignore it and hope it gets lost all by itself. We might try dumping our inner baggage onto others. We even pay money to people offering to help us get rid of it. If we could just travel to a distant location and lose it in transit, we might feel very tempted to do so.

There are many tricks and techniques on offer promising to relieve you from your inner baggage with minimal effort. While this may sound appealing at first sight, it is not necessarily desirable at all.


The Value of Inner Baggage

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”Mary Oliver

Inner baggage is one of the most undervalued human resources. The fact that it is surprisingly persistent and attached to us gives an indication that there might be more to our inner baggage than meets the eye. But before we examine its hidden value let’s define what this immaterial stuff is that we drag around on our journey through life.

Anything that has an impact on your experience of life can qualify as inner baggage. Anything that feels heavy, weighs  you down, stands in your way, or slows down your progress. Any unresolved problem or difficult circumstances that interfere with the fulfilment of your dreams are directly or indirectly related to inner baggage. Problems, adversity, difficulties, obstacles, and personal challenges are often linked to inner baggage.

The weight of the baggage depends on our attitude to the problem not the size of the adversity itself. As soon as we’re able to perceive any amount of hidden value in a difficult situation the weight of it subsides considerably. What’s more, the perceived ‘baggage’ spontaneously turns into a valuable resource.

There are many examples of people who have turned personal challenges into great gifts. Here are some of them:
Dan Caro, drummer, inspirationalist, author of The Gift of Fire
Frederick M. Alexander, actor, author, founder of the Alexander Technique
Helen Keller, author, humanitarian, founder of Helen Keller International
Jon Chandonnet, author of Shadow Summit
Katherine Preston, researcher, author of Out With It
Maya Angelou, poet, author, actress, warrior for equality, tolerance and peace.

These people have learned how to transform adversity into assets. They have accepted the challenges of their ‘baggage’, found the hidden treasure in it, and unravelled precious gifts to benefit themselves and many others. Above all else they have proven that personal problems are unique gifts in disguise.


How to Transform Baggage into Assets

“Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.”William Shakespeare

To answer this question fully may take a lifetime. However, there are certain common traits we can observe in those who have gone before.

Claim it: The first common trait of baggage-into-gifts-transformers is that they claim their baggage. They don’t try to get rid of it. They don’t feel sorry for themselves. They don’t blame anyone for their misfortune, and they don’t try to find quick fixes to make their lives easier. They accept their lot in life with gratitude and humility.

Be surprised: The second common trait of baggage-into-gift-transformers is that they receive their gifts as a surprise. They don’t try to claim their gifts. (Note: they claim their baggage, the gift comes as a surprise). They don’t feel entitled to their gift after ‘having suffered so much’. They don’t try to twist the arm of the universe to come up with the goods. They genuinely welcome their surprise gift without expectations, and they share their gift with those who resonate with it.

Other important traits that baggage-into-gift-transformers seem to have naturally are patience, commitment, discipline and perseverance, as well as a strong urge to discover truth and an intense motivation for life itself. All of these qualities are available in every human to a certain degree, and they can be activated in relation to baggage-into-gift-transformation.


The Size of Inner Baggage

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”Maya Angelou

The human mind works in funny ways. One moment we would do anything to get rid of our inner baggage, the next we notice that having some baggage might be to our advantage, and we feel left out. We may develop ‘small baggage shame’ and wish for a little more drama in life – as long as it doesn’t hurt too much! This is complete nonsense, of course. Nobody really wants more baggage and adversity than necessary. And besides, you may already have a lot more than you think.

The size of personal baggage is not necessarily related to the volume of the adversity but to our willingness and capacity to handle a current situation. Most of the time we are only able to see the tip of an iceberg. When we refuse to claim our baggage it is not unusual for problems and difficulties to grow in proportion to our reluctance to face our stuff. This seems to be some kind of universal law. In other words, if you really want more baggage, you know what to do…


The Hidden Treasure

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

While the prospect of receiving a unique gift may be an incentive for claiming your personal baggage, there are no guarantees with regards to the timing and nature of the gift itself. The key to transforming your personal baggage into your rightful unique gifts is to begin to claim those pieces that you may have been trying to get rid of.

Accept your adversity, defeats, suffering, struggle, difficulties and losses as the raw material that is yours to work with. Gather the pieces of your baggage. Unpack all the cases you are travelling with and make an inventory to get a good overview.  Since the weight of your baggage is determined by your attitude towards any problem or difficulty in your life, claiming what is yours provides instant relief. Of course this is easier said than done.

Claiming your personal adversity – meaning you’ve got to accept the nasty stuff fully and unconditionally as yours – is counterintuitive. Part of you wants to turn away from it and find an easier route. However, if you approach the adversity as a personal challenge, an inevitable hurdle to take in your stride in order to reach a higher level of fulfilment in life, it may become a little more attractive.

From this new vantage point you can even go one step further and ask yourself, ‘what might be the gift in this?’ – You won’t necessarily get an answer to this question straightaway, but the question itself opens your mind to the possibility of receiving the gift. If asked with genuine curiosity and an open heart, this question can literally unlock the chest that keeps surprising treasures safe until you’re ready for them.


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