Shame as defined by Brené Brown is “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.”
Shame intrudes and holds on to you like a MOFO. It is the biggest suitcase you tote through the airport because you have convinced yourself you need this container with all its contents to make your vacation worth it. Your holiday needs to be the best ever and what will make it the best is to look amazing, be prepared, have so many options and never have a bad hair day! And so you swear, sweat and toil all over the place hauling your bag of tricks. You get lost trying to find the corridor that is wide enough accommodate the huge suitcase you can only drag because it’s too heavy to carry. You groan and complain as you search for the one elevator because your luggage doesn’t fit on the escalator. You heave it on to the scanner tweaking your back, then open it up and shrink back while it’s searched. Then you zip it back up and lug it to the next security area praying they don’t look inside. You pay the extra bag and extra weight fees, or even worse, you start to plan how you can fly yourself all over the damn place to get the free bags bonus.
Not to mention the size of the car you need to get the bag to the airport, or the amount of closet space to store it, or the time you spend weighing it to make sure it is just acceptable.
How about when you can’t make the weight requirements and you have to sort and decide what stays and what goes? Now you have to try and cram it all in one bag that might fit in the overhead compartment because you don’t want to pay the fee. The bag never fits. You cringe while everyone watches you kill yourself to get this bag in the compartment and you end up in a stressed out narrative of I hate traveling because you refuse to acknowledge the source of your misery.
You refuse to see that these exhausting choices you are making are derivatives of the first choice: I need to have this bag with all these things in it. I must carry this bag around.
This bag that is attached to me, that I am terrified to lose, the one with the big-as-can-be name tag or amazing bright neon ribbon I hunted for days to find that is wrapped around my bag like a gift, so the world knows it’s mine.
All of this to make the trip worthwhile. To justify the journey. To make you feel safe and prepared.
This is another way to understand shame and all the unbelievable amounts of time and energy we spend to accommodate our shame bag.
And you can guess what I am going to say.
You don’t need the bag.
You don’t even need a smaller bag.
You could walk, fly and travel all over the damn place just as you are.
And guess what choices you can have if you are not toting your bag around? You can start looking around you while you walk through the airport smiling (and maybe help others carrying bags) and acknowledging other human beings (gasp!), sit in the lounge and meet a cool new friend who shares their fave spots in the place you are going, get comfy on the plane and introduce yourself to your seat mate. How about learning the names of your in-flight crew? The money you now aren’t spending on the bag, its contents and price to tote it around can now be spent on making the journey more fun and enjoyable. Get a neck massage, buy a new book, sip a yummy coffee, treat your new lounge friend to a glass of bubbly. All these new experiences and new connections to make now that you aren’t caretaking your bag.
And that doesn’t even address how you can experience the new places you get to. You now aren’t worried about where you put your bag and the thoughts that spin 24/7: Did you lose it? Did you leave a pocket unzipped? Did it make the connection? Will someone break into it and take all its contents? What if you can’t fit all the new stuff I want to have in it?
All of this incessant worry disappears when you don’t have the bag.
You get to be completely present and available to see what happens right now in the moment and then the next, and the next. Doesn’t it sound amazing?
No fucking bag.
Yes, please. More of that. More of me being here. More of you being here. More of us being here.
And you know what? Pretty soon you forget you even had a bag, the shoulder pain you used to have is no longer there; you now get to use your resourcefulness, imagination and creativity with your free hands and rested mind. You see people, opportunities and invitations that you would have missed before.
You are thrilled you aren’t wasting time trying to figure out what else you can stuff into your bag.
Destinations are now exciting to travel to. The journey becomes a lot of fun and has a sense of ease.
The bag is no longer taking up space. Inside or out.
So, how do you go bag free?
Feel it. That weight. Get to know this heavy burden. Ask yourself why you have the bag in the first place. Unpack it. Look at the contents. What is easy to take out? What is hard to remove? Do you need it? If you put it down can you just be you without it? Who are you without your bag? How do you act? How do you speak? How do you show up in the world when you are no longer lugging your bag around or rifling through its contents?
Get to know the version of yourself that lives without a bag. The self that trusts and loves life. The self that wants to spend energy exploring not explaining. The self that shows up free to be who you truly are.
Feel what this version of you is like. Feel into the vulnerability of this bag-free life. The freedom of nothing hindering you or demanding your attention. To walk upright with nothing weighing you down so you can look out and see what is waiting for you.
Feel it. This is your natural self.
I help people trust themselves to put the bag down. To free themselves from the shame that leaves them hating the journey.
If you think you’d like to travel lighter, get in touch.