Emotional baggage. We all have it. And we’ve been carrying it around for w-a-y too long; for many of us since childhood. Maybe someone told you that you weren’t good enough or that the Cs you worked hard to get didn’t matter because it wasn’t an A or that you didn’t look good enough, you’re too fat, too skinny… you get what I’m saying.
Did you know that we form our values by the age of 7? Can you imagine the harm that could be done if at a very early age you consistently heard, “You’re stupid. You’ll never amount to anything.” As children we believe what adults say. Its helps shape what we think and feel about ourselves, good or bad.
Unfortunately as adults we often carry around emotional baggage that is almost as old as we are. And we find ourselves in situations that reinforce these beliefs. For instance, if I believe that I stink at math. I’ve never been good at it, no matter how hard I tried in school I never got anything higher than a C. I suck at it. Now as an adult, I can’t balance my checkbook, I hate counting anything, I don’t like cooking either because if I have to triple a recipe I mess it all up.
Here’s another example: As an adult Lisa isn’t comfortable with strangers. She avoids eye contact, dresses in clothes that are too baggy for her slim frame, she keeps her hair pulled back in a pony tail because it’s easier to manage. She slouches when she walks preferring to look at the ground while walking (to avoid tripping, of course!). What we don’t know about Lisa is that she was criticized for being too skinny by her mother and was told that she was ugly by her older sisters. Lisa’s sisters loved to tease her, the youngest in the family who happened to be attractive compared to her sisters. They told her how dumb she was for asking silly questions, how she couldn’t match her clothes if she only had a few to choose from in her closet. After time, Lisa believed what she was hearing and now she believes she doesn’t matter, she’s too skinny and unattractive. And now as an adult she makes sure everyone knows this. She has had two boyfriends both of whom eventually began to criticize her for who she is and how she carries herself. She never felt good enough.
See what I mean? At some point when you see things like this cycling in life it may be a good idea to stop and take a look at what’s really going on. Check in and ask, “Has something similar to this happened before? How often has this happened?” And here’s the big question: “What do I believe about myself that brings this experience to me over and over again?”
Asking these questions takes courage and uncovering the answer isn’t always easy but it is well worth it if it means a new way of living is on the other side. Prayer, meditation and leaning into God helps. Ask Him to clearly bring to your mind the experiences that helped you form your core belief. Ask Him for guidance on how to best deal with it. Ask Him to lead you to people to support you. And know that He has taken care of it for you, you just need to keep walking and doing.
Once you identify the core belief you’ll notice when it comes up again and you will then have a CHOICE about how you want to deal with it. Once you identify it you will be conscious about what’s going on and you will no longer be a victim to it.
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. Psalm 28:7 NIV