What Baggage are you Carrying into 2023?

What Baggage are you Carrying into 2023? 1080 608 Jason Lauritsen

Like so many others, I decided to take some time off between Christmas and New Years. 

My goal was to largely put work aside to rest up, spend time with my family, and reconnect with some friends. 

The first few days went pretty well due to all of the great distractions that Christmas provides. Cooking, cleaning, shopping with the kids, and all the rest. But once the holiday passed, I had a problem. 

I kept waking up early (real early) and couldn’t go back to sleep. My mind would start up on work. And, in particular, a couple of specific issues.  

The first night, I thought it was just a fluke. But on the third morning in a row of being awake at 4 a.m., I finally grabbed a cup of coffee and got to work. 

The things on my mind weren’t huge issues, just loose ends–things I hadn’t resolved and thus I couldn’t let go of. 

After a couple of hours, I’d done enough work to put these issues to rest in my mind. And the next morning I didn’t wake up so early. 

I call issues like this “psychic baggage.” Things that we hold in our mind because we know that they are unresolved. 

Carrying around psychic baggage has a real cost. Depending on the issue, it can drain your energy, interfere with your sleep, or harm your relationships. 

We all carry some of this baggage, some more than others. And we all have the ability to set at least some of that baggage down, if we choose to do so. 

What is Psychic Baggage?

It’s easy to overlook how much baggage we are carrying. 

In my case, I didn’t even realize these issues were weighing on me until I started paying a penalty in lost sleep. 

Psychic baggage comes in many shapes and sizes. 

Sometimes, it’s as simple as things we have chosen to carry around in our head instead of writing them down. How many times have you thought something like this? “Oh, I need to remember to follow up with Jenny about that project we discussed.” 

Instead of making a simple calendar reminder, we just “try” to remember. That’s baggage we have to carry.

It might be an important task that you just haven’t done yet. “I need to remember to call the plumber about that leak I noticed under the water heater.” Until you take action, it’s psychic baggage to carry. 

These are all relatively easy baggage to put down. The bigger, heavier psychic baggage that we carry around with us has to do with relationships. 

Conversations that need to happen. Checking in with someone you are worried about. Apologies you need to make. People you need to forgive. 

This type of psychic baggage can be a bit more challenging and complicated to put down. But, it’s the heaviest and most harmful baggage to carry around with you. And the benefits of freeing yourself of this baggage are immense.

Putting down your Psychic Baggage

The beginning of a new year is a great time to reflect on how you might be able to put down some of your psychic baggage. Every time you succeed, you create more space to focus on what really matters to you. 

Identifying and setting down psychic baggage is an act of self-care. It’s an investment in your well-being. 

Here are a few prompts for how to get started.  

If you are worrying about it, confront it.

Identifying your psychic baggage is an exercise in mindfulness. Pay attention to where your mind goes when you are distracted or, in my case, waking up at 3:30 a.m. The baggage is often sitting in plain sight. 

What are you worrying about? What keeps coming up over and over? WHO keeps coming up, over and over? 

This is your mind doing the work of carrying the baggage. And it will keep happening until you notice it and take some action. 

Forgive others and yourself.

Most of us carry around a frightening amount of psychic baggage regarding other people who we feel have wronged us or whom we feel we have wronged. 

When we carry this baggage, it affects how we show up in our relationships with others. Holding onto resentments only harms you and serves as a barrier to other meaningful relationships. 

The key is forgiveness. We often make the mistake of thinking that forgiveness is something we give to others. It’s not. Forgive is something we give ourselves. It’s an act of putting down the heavy psychic baggage of resentment that you are choosing to carry. 

Forgive others. Forgive yourself for mistakes of the past. Put down that baggage. 

If you need to make some apologies, do that. Like forgiveness, an apology can have a positive impact on another person, but often the biggest impact is on you.  An owed apology is heavy baggage to carry. And issuing that apology allows you to put it down.   

Have the conversation that most scares you.

Perhaps the heaviest of all psychic baggage is the important conversation we are afraid to have.

This might be addressing a serious performance issue with someone who reports to you at work. Particularly when it’s something that may not have an easy solution. 

It could be talking with a friend who you worried about because of their recent life choices. 

Or, it could be talking with your parents about end of life issues. 

Or, having a conversation with your significant other about some issues in your relationship. 

All of this is heavy baggage to carry. And despite how scary the conversation feels as you consider them, what lies on the other side of those conversations always warrants the courage it takes to step into them. 

The unfortunate reality I’ve learned about this type of psychic baggage is that the longer you carry it, the heavier and more costly it becomes. 

Lighten your load

One way to make 2023 a great year is to choose not to carry around as much psychic baggage. You will feel lighter and more free when you do. 

Give yourself this gift. 

Over the next week, pay attention to what things come to mind when you are distracted, feel anxious, or can’t sleep. When you notice a particular issue, theme, or individual who keeps coming up, make a note of it somewhere (literally write it down). 

Your list might end up having one big thing or a bunch of little things. As I said earlier, baggage comes in many shapes and sizes.  

As you add things to your list, carve out some quiet reflection time to look at the list and ask yourself this question. 

What step do I need to take to put down this baggage? 

Do this for each one. Then, decide where and how to start. Pick an easy one first. You’ll feel the impact right away. 

Wishing you a wonderful (and lighter) 2023 full of joy and well-being!


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Jason Lauritsen