Many of us have experienced people who appear to have a chip on their shoulder that negatively influences their behavior. The negativity is reflected in an individual's personality. More often than not, the "chip" is a reflection of a painful past experience. What many people do not realize is that negative past experiences sometimes turn into personal baggage that creates barriers to career success. Example of negative past experiences may include traumatic issues such as an unplanned pregnancy or a criminal offense. Other times, the negative experience involves poor life choices or a failure at something that had great meaning.
It is vital for all of us to recognize the impact our past has on our future. Practice these steps toward a more productive future:
Confront your past: Whatever skeleton is in your past, admit that the negative event occurred. Do not try to hide or deny that it happened. You don't need to share the event with everyone, however it may help to confidentially share the experience with a trusted friend, family member, or professional. Acknowledge of the negative event is the first step toward healing.
Practice forgiveness: Past negative experiences hurt. A process in healing is to forgive whoever hurt you. Forgiveness does not justify that what occurred was acceptable, but reconciles in your heart that you are dealing with the experience and are beginning to heal. The act of forgiveness may involve a conversation with someone, or it may simply involve deciding to no longer carry this heavy burden.
Move forward: Let go of hurt, guilt, and embarrassment. Don't keep dwelling on the past and using it as an excuse or barrier toward achieving your goals. If you are caught in this step, physically write the experience down on a piece of paper and the words "I forgive _____" (enter the person's name). Then take the paper and destroy it. This simple physical act puts you in control and allows you to visualize the negative experience being diminished. As you become more confident in yourself, your negative experience becomes enveloped with the rest of your past and frees you to create a more positive future.
Dealing with emotional baggage is not something that happens overnight, and it is often a painful process. As such, some individuals may need professional assistance to help them through the process. Keep in mind that there is absolutely no shame in seeking help. In fact, there is great freedom when you are finally able to climb to the top of the mountain with a lighter load, unencumbered by the heavy baggage you have been carrying.