After my divorce I decided I’d try out the Tinder dating thing. To be honest, the whole idea sounded terrible to me, but since I was pretty certain at the time that I’d be single forever, there wasn’t much to lose.
Not to say that dating apps aren’t well loved and even successful match-making tools for many people, but I’m an introvert and digital dating just isn’t my cup of tea.
But I figured why not, let’s try it.
So I downloaded the app, tinkered around with my profile to get it just right, and got to swiping.
My adventures in what felt like shopping a human meat market lasted about 3 days, but in that time I was endlessly entertained (and often discouraged) but the nifty profile lines these guys were coming up with.
My favorite one that really sealed the deal? “Bla bla bla, something or other something, I Have No Baggage.”
I’m Sorry, You have no baggage?
This screamed “I’m shut down” to me on so many levels, I energetically ran the other way.
Among many other funny, hilarious, and sometimes disturbing opening lines, this one stood out for me for a reason.
Because to me, saying “I don’t have baggage” is sort of like saying “I haven’t spent much time exploring my own mind”.
The truth is we all have baggage. Every single one of us. But if we’re self-aware and ready to do the work, our baggage can actually be our greatest blessing.
Having Baggage Means You’re Alive, It Doesn’t Mean You’re Broken.
First let’s just consider what “having baggage” really looks like.
Having baggage looks like having a tough childhood
Having baggage looks like having been bullied in school
Having baggage looks like having been cheated on
Having baggage looks like having been through a divorce
Having baggage just means at one point or another you were hurt and you’ve got something to work on.
I think part of the reason why our culture rejects people who have baggage so much is because we tend to want to keep people who act as mirrors for us at arms length.
It’s easier to simply say the other person is “damaged goods” than it is to do the hard work and heal ourselves.
But when you meet someone who’s got baggage and has done their healing work, you’ve encountered a rare and beautiful person.
It’s often the most painful experiences that make us who we are
A person who’s used their hardest moments as insights into how they can become stronger, and more self aware is someone you can trust – they see the world through a different lens because of what they’ve been through.
No doubt about it, we’ve all either been in a relationship with someone (or we’ve been that someone ourselves) who had a whole lot of unhealed wounding (aka – “baggage”) and it wasn’t a pretty experience.
Being in relationship with someone who hasn’t done their own work yet can be exhausting, confronting, but also quite powerful.
We Attract What We’re Ready For
Why powerful? And what do I mean when I say we attract what we’re ready for? Is this some kind of backhanded way of saying “you’re not good enough for a happy relationship?
Heck no! But hear me out on this one…
In a round about way, attracting someone with unhealed baggage is a sign that you may be ready to look at your own inner wounding and get to know yourself better.
Forget about what they’re doing (or not doing) just for a brief moment and ask yourself…
What do I see in this person that also exists in me?
How am I like them?
What behaviors of mine are they mirroring back to me?
What part of my mind are they showing me here?
You May End the Relationship, But The Work Doesn’t Stop There
If you do find yourself in a relationship that simply doesn’t fit the bill, consider whether you’re choosing consciously, or running away.
Along the way, we eventually begin to recognize that all relationships are work and we give up on swapping out one warm body for another because we realize that our partners are our mirrors. They show us parts of ourselves that need attention and love.
They show us our “shadow” or our darkness. The parts of ourselves we try to ignore until they burst at the seams.
So whether or not you remain in the relationship, remember the lesson.
It’s Not Them, It’s You.
That’s right. You can turn the tables around in almost any circumstance and find a way to grow from your experiences with others.
This doesn’t excuse abuse, or make someone’s bad behavior right.
But it does give you power to transform your inner world by letting them show you something deeper about yourself.
You can focus on what the other person is doing and remain a victim, or you can explore your own mind and emotional body and level up.
When you have a good relationship with yourself, your relationships with others get better too.
So the next time you meet someone, consider learning more about what type of personal exploration they’ve done.
Ask them about their past, find out if they’ve done any healing work around the ways in which they may have been hurt.
Find out what their most painful experiences have been, ask them what they’ve learned from those experiences.
Take a genuine interest in the other person and become fascinated by them rather than repelled.
And while boundaries around poor behavior are absolutely necessary and non-negotiable, sometimes if you take just one step back and drop out of your head into your heart, you’ll realize that you’re a lot like them.
From a woman with baggage
(Who’s doing her healing work.)