Unpack Those Bags!

Forgiveness-is-theI don’t believe there’s any way of moving through this life without some pain, heartache, disappointment, loss, confusion, fear, and loneliness. I’ve never had the experience of getting to know anyone closely without discovering a deep well of pain within them. We all have our stories, our losses, and those places where we mourn for ourselves.The difference between happy people and unhappy people lies in their resiliency, the amount of support they find for themselves, their ability to integrate and make peace with what’s happened, and the way they respond to what they’re given. Sometimes you try to find support for yourself, and nothing seems to work. Depression is real, it’s not a choice, it’s a fight for your life. So is addiction. And sometimes people lose the battle.

There are also situations where it is a choice. You can carry your pain on your back and into every experience you have. You can keep your pain alive by feeding it and compounding it with the confusion that results from choices fueled by old wounds. The longer you allow yourself to deny, avoid, feed, or numb out from your pain, the longer your heart will wither and your soul will be crushed. Your heart is made for love. Your soul wants to dance, to expand well beyond the borders of your body. But if you’re dousing yourself with bitterness, resentment, fear, shame, guilt, doubt, insecurity and some crazy notion that you aren’t lovable, there’s just no way you’re going to be able to shine. To throw off the blinders. To realize what you know, to acknowledge what you are.

At a certain point, you’re going to have to sit down and unpack those bags if you want to find some inner peace. If you want to unhook your journey from past experiences and find the freedom and the expansion that comes from forgiveness, compassion and taking responsibility for your own happiness. You’re going to have to examine everything you’ve been carting around and find that raw place inside you that is connected to that baggage and give it your kind attention. You’re going to have to wrap your arms around your own pain and say, “I know you. I feel you. I’m right here.” And you’re going to have to let it out. To grieve until the heat of the wound is washed away by your tears. That’s the only way to stop the bleeding and start the healing. You have to honor and acknowledge that pain before you can let it go. Or it can let you go.

People who are hurting will hurt others. That’s how it works. Please get that because it’s important to grasp. If someone hurts you, betrays you, treats you with disrespect or cruelty, it’s because that is what is inside them. That’s where they are on their journey; that’s how they’re dealing with their own pain. I’m not saying that’s okay, I’m just saying you don’t have to take it on. You don’t have to accept and own it as something you caused or deserve. You don’t have to receive it as a response to you, a rejection of you. It has little to do with you, except inasmuch as you choose to participate. And if you’re in pain, you’re going to spread it. You probably won’t mean to do that, but it will happen. I have all the love and time and patience in the world for people who are struggling, who are trying in earnest to face their stuff and deal with it, because it’s difficult, painful, lonely work. I’ve been there, I know. And it’s so uncomfortable. But people who are sleepwalking through life, who refuse to own their actions, who want to point fingers or explain or justify bad behavior, who want a pass on the hard work (and we’ve all been these people at one time or another, yours truly included)…I want to get up in their mix and say, “WAKE THE EFF UP!!!” With love, of course.

Because life is going to be pretty miserable lugging heavy bags of pain around everywhere. And being too afraid or too lazy to get to work is a shabby reason to have a sad life where you end up hurting yourself and other people the whole time. What an act of total unconsciousness and ingratitude. To exist in a world where you could be living. Giving. Growing. Loving. Life is going to bring all kinds of stuff our way. Some of it is going to crush us. Some of us will go through things the mind and heart will struggle to understand and accept. And some of it is going to be amazing, heart-expanding, mind-blowingly awesome. Respond with courage. Be vulnerable. Receive it all, the storms that knock everything down, and the gorgeous sun on your face. Say, “Yes, I am Here. I am awake”. That’s all you can do. If you do the work to find your inner yes, you will be at peace even when life keeps sending you no’s. Because no one can take that kind of love away from you once you’ve found it. Please put your bags down. Don’t waste another day, another minute. Your heart, your soul, and your very life are too precious for that. Sending you so much love, Ally Hamilton

One thought on “Unpack Those Bags!”

  1. Dear Ally, I used to take your classes in Santa Monica back in 2005-6, and I was so happy to just find your website!! Your point of view resonates with me as much as it did 6 years ago, thank you for sharing it with the world. I have a question — with the holidays coming up, and the dark and cold creeping in (I moved back to the east coast), I am feeling a strong urge to go somewhere sunny and practice yoga. Are you leading any retreats, or can you recommend any teachers who are?

    Thank you so much for putting these wonderful messages out there.

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