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What's in your Wagon?

Updated on March 14, 2017

We each go through life towing what I think of as our little red wagons. These symbolic wagons carry all of our life’s baggage – hurts, insecurities and our perceived failures. We load it all in the wagon of our psyche and drag it with us. Over time it becomes very heavy and weighs us down. It can become off kilter and cause us to stumble. Sometimes, some of us just sit down, along life’s path, and give up. To find peace and happiness we must find a way to let go of the handle and walk away from it - but how do we do that?

We learn to cope with difficulties and challenges when we are children, developing a defense response. It is a coping mechanism that helps us to deflect our pain. Over time this becomes an automatic reflex and each hurt or insult, real or perceived, triggers that response and takes us back to all of the hurts that came before. Our distresses are enhanced because we are processing them from our “go to” response mode.

When we have conflict with people in our lives –and there will be conflict, it’s a natural part of life – we are battling their response reflex and all of their past pain. Anger is based on our personal opinion and the judgements of ourselves and of others. When we can learn to let go of those opinions and judgements we can be more objective. Once awareness is reached that others have also been wronged and suffered their own pains and trials in this life, judgements can be replaced with compassion and grace can be more easily extended and in doing so, we find that we can also be more gentle and forgiving of ourselves.

We cannot be responsible or control the attitudes and behavior of others. We can only do that for ourselves. Our issues stem from unresolved fears, pains and insecurities because we never learned how to face and deal with them constructively. They are still in our wagons. Rather than feel and recognize the emotion for what it is, it tends to get magnified and brings with it all of the past emotions we still harbor and nurture – and what do we gain from this? It is a selfish reaction – for in those moments, we truly are making it all about ourselves.

Life will present us with turmoil. It is inevitable and we will naturally experience emotions and reactions to it. That is perfectly normal and as it should be. The trick is to channel that emotion into constructive energy that can be utilized in a positive way to find resolution. We can choose to lash out and add to the negativity or we can step back, speak and acknowledge the issue and our feelings about it and address it from a productive place.

It takes practice to detach with objectivity and evaluate a situation – to catch ourselves before we go into our “default mode” but we can retrain ourselves to react differently. Live with empathy, appreciating that we are all doing the best we can and learning as we go along and park your ego and your wagon at the curb.

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