Lose weight – get rid of extra baggage

  • Published
  • By Chaplain (Capt.) Kraig Smith
  • Tinker Chapel
"The unexamined life is not worth living" -- Socrates

When I joined the Air Force, I was issued the big, green A-bags. Amazing! I can stuff my whole house in there, almost. I had so much fun with the "freedom" that came from stuffing more and more stuff in that bag. I'd poke it, find an "empty" spot and stuff more stuff into it! Then, I had to carry it. Perhaps, I should not have gotten so carried away stuffing stuff into the bag!

For this deployment, I have hit Nirvana -- soft bags, with lots of room and wheels! Big wheels, too, not just those little silver, easy-to-break wheels. That's the ticket, for sure. However, as easy as it is to stuff these monster bags full to the brim, I still have a limit to the weight. Airlines only allow so many pounds in the bag. I must confess, though, that as much as I enjoy the potential of taking everything I own, I've found that I generally regret carrying too much baggage.

Whenever I counsel people, I am astonished at the amount of baggage they continue to carry with no idea they are carrying it. This baggage covers the gamut of human experiences -- rape, grief, loss, abuse, anger, frustration -- the list goes on and on. People then make decisions based upon that baggage and don't understand why they made that particular decision or why it's not working out for them. If this might be you, then the next question is, "How do I stop?"

Socrates' advice at the top gives us a starting point -- the examined life. Examining your own life allows you to see the baggage, empty out that baggage and begin to make better decisions.

It's helpful to think of yourself as a system, with at least four defined areas -- physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Each area interacts with the other areas and weakness and baggage in one will affect the other. For instance, I hate to run. When my feet start hitting the pavement, my mind starts thinking things like, "I'm going to die. I hate running. I'm too old for this. I can't do this for much longer." That mental baggage begins to assert itself on the physical area and I'm soon lying on the side of the track, panting and wheezing like a wounded water buffalo! It's not a pretty sight, unless you like that sort of thing.

Begin asking yourself questions in each area. Because the "spiritual" arena is my expertise, I'll focus there. My definition of "spirituality" is as follows: Spirituality = one's inner belief system; what one believes about the meaning and purpose of life; how one experiences hope, love, inner peace, comfort and support; it's about becoming.

With that in mind, here are some questions you might begin asking yourself.

1. What kind of person am I, and is that the kind of person I want to be?

2. What do I believe is the meaning and purpose of life?

3. Do I experience hope, love, inner peace, comfort and support? If so, how? If not, why not?

4. What are my strengths?

5. What are my weaknesses?

6. Do I hold any anger or unforgiveness toward another person or group of people?

As you are able to answer those questions, you will be able to see the baggage you are carrying around and lose it!

When I was 21, I was dating a young lady from Michigan. She was beautiful, smart, witty, talented, Godly, funny and everything I had ever wanted in a girlfriend. However, I wasn't able to care for her deeply. I felt disconnected, aloof and very isolated. As I thought through those feelings, I realized, over a period of time, that I was actually feeling disconnected from just about everybody -- family, friends, God, etc. Why? I came to realize, after some self-reflection and talking it through with other people, that I had not fully finished grieving the death of my father two years prior. As I began to see that "baggage" in my life, and to unpack it, my ability to connect with others around me returned, and I married that "young lady from Michigan."

Baggage -- we tend to pack a lot of "things" into our emotional baggage, and then somehow forget we are carrying all of that around. Do yourself a favor -- get rid of it. You'll feel better; you'll make better decisions; you'll have more clarity. Traveling light can be a very good thing!