Jeff Brown on others’ baggage

March 30, 2014

NOSTALGIA © 1998 PhotoSpin

These look pretty, don’t they?

But what if they weigh a ton? Without the ability to roll, they’d be a bitch to carry. What if they’re not yours to carry?And what all those stickers represent unresolved issues stuffed inside of them?

How did you end up carrying this baggage if it isn’t yours?

Ah. The very wise Jeff Brown tells us:

Those who don’t want to deal with their issues have a tendency to pass them onto someone else. Then they can pretend they don’t have them anymore. Unfortunately, some of us become carriers of the virus- carrying another’s unresolved toxicity up the hill, legs buckling, short of breath, close to collapse. It’s too much. It’s hard enough to get through life without adding someone else’s baggage to our load. It is essential that we do a conscious baggage check now and then- being painstakingly honest with ourselves about the ways that we have accumulated other people’s stuff: What form is it in? How heavy is it? How does it block our expansion?

Well, ok, so I’ve done this: taken on someone else’s issues. That’s what you’re supposed to do when you love someone, right? Help them carry the load? Even carry it FOR them?

Not always.  The truth is that people have to work out their stuff on their own. Because it’s THEIR stuff. It’s not yours.  They bring to it factors you can’t possibly understand. And the other truth is that we really can’t help someone else with their toxicity. We can only help ourselves with our own.

And for some of us? Carrying another’s burden IS our toxicity: co-dependence.  That sometimes (but not always) unconscious attempt to wrest the entire issue from its owner and handle it ourselves. Have you done that? How did it work for you?

I know. It didn’t work so well for me, either.  Talk about blocking my expansion…. and in retrospect, I asked myself, “How could I have been so dumb?”  Yeah. The answer is, “easy.”

So here’s what Jeff Brown goes on to add:

No one, absolutely no one, has the right to pass their baggage to another without their permission. Check their baggage at the nearest dump- it’s only yours if you choose to carry it. Better to travel life’s highways light.

Preach it, brother!

(Buy any of his books, you won’t be disappointed. The latest is Love It Forward.)

27 comments on “Jeff Brown on others’ baggage
  1. Pat says:

    Well said, Carol. I think as women we too often get caught up in carrying someone else’s load because it is our nature to just keep giving.

  2. Needed this after a bomb dropped on me yesterday. It’s not really my bomb, just getting pelted with shrapnel. xo

  3. I loved this, Carol, as it is very timely for me.

    I did nothing wrong in a friendship, and have been at the end of being accused of doing something wrong. Now I”m being almost ignored and generally put out to pasture. I doubt I’ll ever know why, but I go back to the book “The Four Agreements” which tells us not to always take things personally. The problem lies within that person and has nothing to do with you.

    It’s hurts more than I can say to be treated this way. But I’m working on not taking it personally.

    I loved this post. Loved it.

    • admin says:

      I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard stories like this and I’ve also had similar situations in my life. I am happy if this post helped you, hard lessons for me, too, Cathy. I so get it.

  4. Yep, baggage! Thanks for the introduction to Jeff Brown, had to go search him as the name was unfamiliar to me!

  5. Jay Lickus says:

    Excuse me for paraphrasing the great Oscar Wilde from the Picture of Dorian Gray:

    “Your days are too brief to take the burden of another’s errors on your shoulders. Each man must live his own life and pay his own price for living it.”

  6. Karen @BakingInATornado says:

    I agree that we shouldn’t be burdened with others’ baggage. I also agree that once we see that it’s being shoved our way it’s easier to shed because we realize how unfair it is that it’s being put on us. But it’s also true that there are certain people in our lives,with whom we’re so strongly connected that even though they may not hand us their baggage, we’re compelled to try to take it because it’s just so painful to see them struggle with it alone.

    • admin says:

      Yes, it’s often hard to see that they must walk through the pain and have their own struggles to learn the life lesson and when we interfere, we are actually harming them. Very hard to see. Been there.

  7. Love this article!! I had to learn to let go of my son’s baggage. Very, very difficult to do. But I realized that I can’t control his decisions, so why am I living with them?

    It was a relief. A huge relief to let go and allow him to carry it himself.

  8. Mindy Mitchell says:

    Incredibly timely as I just ordered yet another copy (I keep giving them away) of “Codependent No More”…the all time credo on all things baggage, both mine and others. Layers of life. Trying to do it better each time. Thank you for the intro to this author.

  9. Carey Giudici says:

    I’ve found that the less judgmental I am, the easier it becomes to avoid picking up excess baggage. It might feel good for a moment to judge people and situations, but in the end we develop a need to justify our right to judge others. Eventually (if not constantly) we then need to prove our superiority by taking on others’ emotional burdens. Cut off this problem at the root by refusing to judge, and everything in life becomes easier …

  10. Haralee says:

    Sometimes I end up being a sounding board for friends and it is about baggage. I swear some really thrive to complicate their lives. I will have to look up the author, not familiar, thanks.

  11. Jennifer Steck says:

    Been there, done that, Carol. I’m in the process of transferring baggage back to one of my family members. I’m feeling lighter already. 🙂

  12. Elena Dillon says:

    So true and a lesson it took me into my thirties to learn. Sometimes I still find myself signing on for someone elses problems but I catch myself much quicker now. Why did it take me so long to figure it out? Ugh. Thanks for the reminder!

  13. Laurel Regan says:

    It can be so hard to resist the urge to try to “fix” things for someone else… but it’s so much better and more effective to offer love and support while they do it themselves. Thank you for this thought-provoking post.

  14. Diane says:

    Wise, wise man!

  15. So very true! I’ve been guilty of this because I often see myself as superwoman running around trying to take care of everyone else.

    But as you say, ” The truth is that people have to work out their stuff on their own. Because it’s THEIR stuff. It’s not yours. They bring to it factors you can’t possibly understand. And the other truth is that we really can’t help someone else with their toxicity. We can only help ourselves with our own. ”

    Thank you for this VERY good reminder! ~Kathy

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