Putting The Baggage Down

When listening to me I’d like you to think about what you’d like to let go of and towards the end of this 15 minutes what we’re going to do is we’re going to let go of it, so I hope you find that idea interesting for now.

University presents perhaps the greatest opportunity for us to continue our development as human beings, the obstacles to that development are the consequences of what happened to us during the first three stages of that development, that’s our baggage, if you like.

Survival is the first couple of years whereas little babies all you really needed was, we needed to be fed, we needed to be loved, and we needed to feel safe. Conformity is where we learn to fit in with the family so as we fit in with our family we feel more secure in our family’s acceptance of us. Then comes our teenage years, differentiation is typically where we gain our feeling of security by standing out within our own crowd, so we want the best trainers, the latest sports gear, we want to stand out as ourselves outside of that Cocoon of the family but within our group.

Individuation is the first stage where we’re able to appreciate the needs of others. If you think about disconnecting at the moment of birth the ego is the mask we wear while we seek to reconnect with the soul and that’s what starts to happen at individuation. Even though psychologically healthy human beings should be individuating from about University age, the vast majority never do and that’s because some of their basic needs from these first three stages remain unmet, and of course, our unmet needs are our baggage.

One of my big deals is you hear me talk about so-called Mental Health, if you think about the word mental it implies that something is wrong with our heads, and really, there isn’t anything wrong with our heads in the vast majority of cases and if we think about the word Health, well if your health isn’t right you might want to go to the doctor and get some medicine and that will make you better, but again in the vast majority of cases there’s actually nothing wrong with someone’s health. So let’s look at why that is, it’s said that approximately 80 percent of people’s mental health problems are down to anxiety and depression, anxieties in the family of emotions we call fear and depression is the result of sadness experienced over time, so with just two emotions we have about eighty percent of all mental health problems. Coming to university we might be anxious because we don’t know what to expect or we might be homesick, we might be sad having left behind the environment that we know and when we’re not feeling too good we might go to see the doctor.

Now doctors are professionally trained to find out what is wrong with you, note the words carefully, what is wrong with you. If you’ve read Oprah’s book it’s called “What’s Happened To You”, it’s a different emphasis there and the doctor is trying to diagnose your symptoms, symptoms of disease identify the problem and prescribe a solution. We’ve all heard about the use of antidepressants if you’re depressed and some kind of calming medication if you’re anxious and what you’ll notice about the problems and the labels and the treatments is there isn’t a cure, there is I cope with the use of my medication, and I’d say to you that’s not really a coping, it’s not a solution.

There’s various coping mechanisms, we’ll start with the formal ones, but what coping mechanisms do is they lower the water level, so if you imagine you’re drowning with your problem and the lower the water level you might think wow, oh, I’m better and you fail to realise that you’re still in the swamp. The other problem is that you have to do your coping mechanism every day whilst the water level rises again so people become dependent, the other problem is because coping isn’t too great quite a few people self-medicate to anaesthetise their pain. Common anaesthetics alcohol, drugs, see people saying oh, I’m an alcoholic or I’m a drug addict and unfortunately it’s really unhelpful to label these problems as addictions, there’s only one thing an alcoholic will tell you when you meet them and that is the number of days since they had their last drink, so they’re not cured, they’re coping the best way they can with their problems without the anaesthetic they used in the past, but if you ever speak to the people boy, their problems are still there. So let’s look at what’s going on.

When we identify with a problem we literally make that problem part of our identity, we bring the problem inside of ourselves, it’s no longer the rucksack on our back, it’s now part of us and many people define themselves by their problem and of course we’ve now just made that problem much harder to release. You might hear people say I’m an alcoholic, I have an addictive personality, I’ve got ME, I’m living with ADHD or I’m living with PTSD, all of these things the person is defining their problem as part of their identity. Small children in particular identify with their problems, if you tell a child that a behaviour is bad, the child interprets that as I am bad and to deal with this the child may make some decisions.

Psychotherapists report that traumatised children will often create alter egos to cope with having been abused, whether that’s physical, psychological or sexual, and for many years people have altered their appearance with surgical and non-surgical treatments thinking they will feel better afterwards. If that young child does not receive love from mom or dad in the way that meets their needs they may make decisions about their love orientation that lasts the rest of their lives, but which never solves the original problem. In extreme circumstances the child may decide that their gender is to blame, only boys get bullied, I’m safer being a girl, that’s the son of a client at the moment and that boy does not know of another client who’s a girl who’s bullied by three brothers and who thinks that actually girls get bullied, she would be better being a boy, and later on the teenager or young adult has no conscious recollection of this decision, instead thinking I’ve always been this way and then wondering why they have mental health problems, so this begs a question, how can events in our life affect our identity, why does this happen.

The answer lies in the fact that we have three brains. If we accept for the moment that our head is one brain in this model, we have different functions in those brains too and we have many expressions that point to the truth of this, have you ever had a gut feeling, have you ever known in your heart that something was true, have you found an idea hard to swallow, have you ever found something hard to stomach, yeah, have you ever felt all screwed up. A lot of this points to our enteric or gut brain and believe it or not the gut brain is responsible for our identity, so the more fearful we are the more likely we might want to change our identity to escape the problem, so that begs the question well why are some people so fearful.

It’s well known that there’s four basic reactions to threat so some people are more susceptible to fear than others, it’s not yet proven whether we’re born this way or we can be affected after birth, certainly I’ve seen it affected after birth when parental imprints are added to the mix, it is quite possible that the same event produces startling different reactions in people. You only have to think of a common or garden spider, for some people they might see the spider walking across the floor and they would ignore it completely, another person would run screaming from the room, but the event is exactly the same, the reaction is startlingly different, so what’s going on.

So the question is, if I’m wrestling with a label or an alteration or a reaction to threat how can I tell what’s really me and what is as Yeung called it, the alienated expression of an unmet need. Well I think it’s really simple if you are at peace with who you are and how you feel, that’s great, that’s you. If it’s not, it’s your baggage. If you have good days and bad days, up and down, then that’s not you that’s speaking, that’s your baggage, and you’ll only find your true self when you drop the baggage, so let’s look at how to do that.

Notice the diagram from before, where we went to see the doctor, now we’re starting from the symptoms and going backwards, notice the different spelling of the word dis-ease. Maybe it would be better to say instead of disease, ill at ease, another expression that we use. So here we start with the symptoms and it was Dr John Sano who wrote a book about the fact that tension was behind pain symptoms and tension does a lot of damage in the body, so where does the tension come from, well that can be come about from what we believe, and what we believe comes from our emotion, and our emotion comes from the event. so very often when something happens to us our unconscious perceives it as dangerous, represses the emotion, so that we can cope and thinking that we’ll deal with it later, and the problem is most of us never do. So the thing to remember is you can’t change the event, that’s history, but what we can do is release the emotion and when you release the emotion the belief changes, the tension disappears and the symptoms disappear too, and that’s why we say when you let go of emotion everything changes.

So I want you to think about these five negative emotions, pick the one that you would most like to release from your life, most of you will remember your biggest event for that emotion but if you can remember your first event that would be even better for you. When you close your eyes trust your unconscious mind to take you where you need to go, so if you are ready, close your eyes and bring yourself whatever picture represents that significant emotional event, remember to stay above the event and looking down on the event and if the emotion feels too intense keep your distance from the event, just come close enough so that it is within your conscious awareness and if you’re not sure that you’ve got something you’d like to let go of just close your eyes anyway and let your unconscious mind give you what it needs to right now, because you’re going to learn how to release that emotion.

So you’re directly up above the event, looking down on the event, ask your unconscious mind what it needs to learn from the event, the learning of which will allow you to let go of the emotions easily and effortlessly. Your unconscious mind can preserve the learning so that if you need them in the future they’ll be there, and notice now that that old emotion isn’t helping you, it’s getting in your way, and it’s time to let it go right now. It may have had power over you in the past but now you are at a different time and it’s time for you to have the power, just to be able to let it go right now. Whatever the mountain may have been you can see it as a molehill now with the passage of time, it’s not anything to be concerned about anymore it’s time to release it now and to move on. Did that old emotion keep you playing small in the past. Notice now you can step into the present, leaving smallness behind you embrace your big future, become aware too that it is only this old past event that has been making you feel bad and as you release it right now, so you start to feel lighter and better and while you integrate the learnings allow yourself to notice the weight lifting from your shoulders as you release the old emotions, feel your tummy too relaxing as that old fear disappears, breathe gently into your tummy as you relax more and more with the release of those old emotions, release the tension from your body wherever you have been holding it. Recognise too that no one and no thing has the right to hold you back or stop you from being happy. If you’ve lost someone dear to you remember that happiness is all that they would want for you, take this positive feeling into your life here at University and pledge to yourself to make the most of it right now, and as you come back to yourself back into the room and into your own time when you are ready just open your eyes.

So that’s about a minute of releasing emotions, some of you may have been able to feel something in that minute, some of you may not, but it really is that simple and what we keep doing is we keep repeating the learnings until the swamp is completely drained, and people feel a bit washed out but then they realise that the tension and the emotion has completely disappeared, no more coping is required. So this is a repeatable process, you can do it with yourself, I do it myself sometimes when I’m just lying in my bed, you can do it with your friends, with your family, you can do it with teams, do it with groups at work or at university, but remember it is not what is wrong with you, it is what has happened to you that you need to release, and when you release emotion you’re releasing the past. Now you’re at University to embrace the present and create the foundation for the rest of your life, to fully belong here, learn to connect with others, to include others and to support others and that is by far the best way to help yourself.

Thank you very much.

For more information on Putting The Baggage Down contact Breakthrough Leadership.