We Got Baggage

(originally written in 2017)

Feelings, nothing more than feelings…”-Feelings, Morris Albert (among others)

The other day, or last week, or 2 weeks ago (I can’t remember) I shot a video where I discussed a trip that I had just completed to the grocery store. I had decided that day to people watch and attempt to read their vibrations as I was making my way through the store. The reason I did this was due to my observation that any time I went into anyplace involving people in a close proximity that I would come out an anxiety-riddled mess, followed by sheer mental and emotional exhaustion. I am certainly not afraid of people by any means, but I certainly was feeling moods, usually negative, that did not in any way correspond with what had occurred to that point of my day. For example, I could go into Walmart and walk out pissed off for the rest of the day and have no concrete reason for it. So instead of just hiding inside of my internal bubble, that day I decided to stay in the moment, let my empath flag fly, and just really use my sense to gauge what was happening while I was there.

One constant theme became clearly apparent. It appeared as EVERYONE was in some kind of hard place. Vibes of misery, sadness, frustration, pain ran rampant throughout. It just felt so heavy from all of the excess baggage. I realized that I was picking up on the vibes of the other people inside and internalizing them. I was feeling the anger of the shopper in the frozen food aisle, the depression of the checkout clerk. On and on and on. This was helpful personally in learning that I was sucking up everyone else’s garbage faster than a Hoover. But I also felt like I needed to start paying more attention for other reasons.

As I continued to march through life, I would repeat this same exercise over and over when I thought to as part of the whole mindfulness thing that I keep working on and failing miserably at (That is a conversation for another day). Observations of humanity were made here and there. I continued to notice the same thing over and over, place to place. Over different locations, different cities and towns, different environments. It was quite rare that I would encounter anyone with any true peaceful vibrations. Just more pan and upset from the masses.

I have gotten better at separating others’ emotions from mine. That has been a positive of course. However, what I saw everywhere really bothered me. It really got me to think about humanity in general, how we operate, interact, function. And Captain Obvious produced the following:

We humans carry a hell of a lot of crap with us.

Probably because we never learned how to unload it properly.

And it is not very well accepted when we try.

Which really sucks.

But here’s the problem. One of two things has to happen. Either it comes out somewhere or it just bounces around inside and causes damage.

Let’s start with the latter.

Think about it, all of the ways that stress affects us. Let’s start in the head. Shit just keeps bouncing around in there and our minds have to learn to compensate. Our egos take over and you start to get worked up over and over and you just get stressed out about everything. Ideas generate in your head involving the worst case scenario in every situation. Fears about things that scientifically cannot exist become all too real. Eventually you shut down and gradually learn to avoid life. Hello anxiety.

Meanwhile, you beat yourself up inside about any and everything. You berate yourself for your thoughts, then gradually you start to kick yourself over your place in life. Your career, finances, social life, education, possessions. The list goes on. You deem yourself to be lacking in everything and not good enough for the world. You feel alone, and then begin to shut yourself in from the world because you’re not worth being around others. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as you become alone, either physically or emotionally tied to someone who is the same way and cannot see past themselves either. Hey there depression.

Then you seek out vices that convince you that the pain is lessened. Even for a little while. Then the vices start to take over as you get hooked on that small piece of perceived relief. Hi addiction.

These addictions join with the stress to keep pounding away and gradually destroying your physical body. Cigarettes? Hello lung and heart issues among other things. Stuffing your face with delicious tasting evil from the drive thru? Up goes the weight, and the cholesterol, and the blood pressure. Not to mention the stomach, intestines, etc. Alcohol? There goes the liver. Drugs? Your body turns into an out of control house party.

Your body slowly becomes a time bomb. Tick….tick….tick….

And that is just what can happen on the inside. Like I said before, the shit also has to come out somewhere too. And if your mind is all FUBAR with this stuff? It sure as hell isn’t going to see the outside world for what it is, and you react to your faulty perceptions and not what is actually happening.

You don’t take others’ responses as what they are, reflections of their own inner worlds and joys and struggles. You assume imminent attack and your defense shields stay up. Almost permanent fight or flight. Others are put off by the naturally following bad vibes that you are sending out. And people don’t want to deal with that, or they take it personally and at the minimum their own bad vibrations come flying back at you. If not further, deeper conflict.

Your find yourself just nitpicking at others and their own issues. Quite possibly, you might find yourself vibrating in the same place with others where you all start talking shit about another’s faults under the guise of being offended or otherwise wronged by these faults and actions. And of course, it does come back at you too, it has to. Then you see yourself as the victim and your defenses fortify. The circle of bullshit just keeps going around and around and around.

What you don’t get is that the vast majority of the bad shit flying around has absolutely nothing to do with you. And even if it is? It’s about someone’s own perception of you. Sometimes, shit just is.

And we don’t really know any better as human beings. So much of it is ingrained in our psyches that we are not allowed to be honest about these things. To talk about our feelings and hurts for what they truly are. And if someone actually does? We have absolutely no idea what the hell we are going to do with it.

We never learned.

Right from the start, as little ones, our parents wouldn’t accept our feelings. It’s not their fault, they were mentioned the same way, like those before them were. We are either yelled at, or given a distraction, or something else just to get us to “Just. Shut. Up.” From our earliest memories we are given the information that our feelings were to not be expressed.

As we formed, we were always taught to comply and conform and to never express any form of dissent or in any way “test the waters.” Stand in line. Sit in your seats. Follow the directions given. Be quiet. Anyone that would or could not listen to instructions was sent to the principal’s office to be in “big trouble,” or at the very least forced to stay inside for recess. There were always consequences for sticking out of the norm. Again, this was not the fault of the educators in our lives. This was they were taught and what they knew.

Feelings were suppressed for the most part. Those that couldn’t were seen as the “crybabies” and often ostracized. Others managed to find releases in I guess healthier ways like sports and other activities. Yet others found not-so-good means to release, such as bullying. (This is why, as much as I feel so strongly about protecting those being bullied, I feel just as strongly about working to find out why those that are bullies act the way they do. There is ALWAYS a reason)

We talk about the old adage that “boys don’t cry” and that is what is ingrained in men from the time they are little boys. It is seen as weak and unacceptable socially. When life throws them awful things they feel as though they need to repress their feelings about it. Because no one wants to hear it. Their friends or peers don’t. It is ingrained in society as being unattractive to be in touch with one’s feelings. We learn to bottle it up. The cycles mentioned earlier manifest themselves, and the results are not good overall.

Society says that women have more freedom in expressing their feelings outwardly. That may be true to a slighter degree, but from experience that is also mostly bullshit. Nobody wants a “drama queen” in their lives. They learn to repress their awful shit too. When they do cry, it is often alone as most of us have no idea how to manage it.

Why are we unable to handle it? Why is it so hard to learn this? Why is it unacceptable to the world to express what is being felt. When those occasions come when feelings are expressed to us, why do we insist on taking it personally? Why is our first instinct always to run away from them?

Shit, look at our world and all the piss and venom that exudes everywhere. Watch the news. Read Facebook or website comments, or look at Twitter responses (actually, don’t). Or Reddit threads. Or sit at a bar or even at work and listen to people talk about politics. Or celebrities. Or….fill in your own blank. That nastiness and venom that comes spewing out has to come from somewhere. We just don’t decide one day, “you know what, I would like to be an asshole, it sounds fun!”

It’s not going to go away in just one day. It is going to take a hell of a lot of work. A lot of people having to let go of an awful lot of weight and changing everything they know. Rewiring their mindsets that have been seared into them practically from birth. It’s hard enough to get ten people to show up to a Sunday cookout, so this is going to be one long, hard project.

It will be worthwhile however, and what a different, amazing place this world would be if we could. Agree?

Finding places to get your own feelings out of your system. Talk to someone. If one person doesn’t listen, find another. And another. And another until someone does. Seek out a good therapist if you need to, they have to listen, they get paid for that shit. A good one is going to let you work to find it, talk it out, and guide you a little bit until you can release. They won’t try to tell you how you feel or force you in a direction (and if they do, find another one). Learn to meditate on it and release your thoughts that way. It is not easy to do, and I suck at it myself. But that ten percent of the time that things work right? It is a great release. I promise.

Then, when you get your shit cleared out, create yourself as a safe space for others to express their own feelings to you. Learn to do so without judgment and without internalizing them. Even if they are expressing how much they think you suck. Remember that, and this is the REALLY hard part, even if they are talking about you, it is only their perception of you, which has really nothing to do with you. Let them air out everything, do not respond, let what is said just pass through and out. Just like in “Frozen,” “Let it go, let it go.”

I really, really want to learn to be able to do this. I want to have my crap released and gone so I can move on with my life and continue to develop. I imagine most want the same whether they are ready to admit that or not.

I also want to be able to be and create that safe space for others. I know I am not completely there yet, or even really close but I really want to try. Let people scoff at that Rich guy and his “silly feelings.” One day they may come around. Or not. But that is not in my control. Not one bit. The only one I can control is myself and I am willing now to take those steps.

I won’t be perfect.

I will fuck up.

I will bitch and moan about someone who is getting under my skin.

I’ll forget myself at times.

But I’ll catch my mistakes.

I’ll learn from them.

I’ll keep getting better.

I’ll forgive myself.

I’ll keep plugging away at it.




Writer. Guide. Mentor. Visionary. Voice. Presence. Geeks out over MCU, Star Wars, baseball, and randomness. Question everything except your worth.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Why I Kept Living. — WSPD 2016

Sinead O’Connor’s 17-Year-Old Son Died After Going Missing From The Hospital

Pandemic Fatigue: Now It’s Time to Complain!

Grief in the Age of Covid

From Panic to Panic Disorder

Dealing with Death, Loss & Grief — At a Distance

The Aftermath Of Trauma

After having a conversation and giving some advice on social anxiety recenty, I thought I would…

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Rich Levesque

Rich Levesque

Writer. Guide. Mentor. Visionary. Voice. Presence. Geeks out over MCU, Star Wars, baseball, and randomness. Question everything except your worth.

More from Medium

Rollercoaster, Emotional.

Setting and Keeping Boundaries on a National Level

Line drawings of a person disrupted in Picasso style fighting with a solid, black box, then a stick person with living boundaries facing the things of life; the sun, house with crops, children, a city and beach in the distance

Relationship First Aid, Part 2: Mending What You Broke Starts Within

Guilt comes in peace (holding an olive branch in one hand and showing a peace sign with the other)

The Dreamy Astrology of Spring