Before you get into a new relationship, it’s a good idea to take stock of where you’re at in life. About to move to a new state for school or a job? Probably not the best idea to ask out the cute barista at Starbucks then.
Do you know what your baggage is? Is there something holding you back aside from nerves? Understanding the things going on that might affect a new relationship is pretty important. This baggage might come in the form of feelings for an ex or family problems that make it hard to spend time with anyone else. Whatever they are, identifying them now will help make you more self-aware down the road and take some stress out of future relationships.
Where is your heart?
The most important thing to think about when identifying potential baggage is where your heart lays. Are you emotionally ready to start dating someone, or do you need some time to figure out your emotions?
There are a lot of things that can occupy your heart and mind. A lot of people think immediately think about past relationships when they hear the word baggage. Exes can definitely do a number on your heart and mind, but they aren’t the only things that can make life more challenging. Problems with your home life, both past, and present or maybe your emotions are just all over the place for unknown reasons.
Whatever the reason, before you get into a serious relationship, you should understand what you’re ready for and know what your baggage is. If your heart is tangled up in something or someone else, you probably shouldn’t be getting into a relationship until it’s free.
Where is your time?
Another big factor in identifying your baggage is understanding what kind of time you may need to commit to sorting out your life. Do you need to deal with family issues like taking care of a grandparent? Maybe you experienced something traumatic and are seeing a therapist multiple times a week, or maybe you experienced something traumatic and should be seeing a therapist multiple times a week.
There are a lot of examples of time-consuming commitments that make relationships hard or unrealistic. Struggling in school or having to work long hours while trying to follow your dreams can also be a form of baggage.
Understanding where you are spending a lot of time or ought to be spending a lot of time can help you identify baggage more easily than you might think.
Where do you want to be?
Thinking about where you are in life and where you want to go can help identify your baggage. This is kind of similar to goal setting and applies pretty broadly. Maybe you want to work out more and want to be more physically fit or change your career path and work towards being happier in life.
Asking yourself where you want to be in life, where you want your health to be, or where you want your mental health to be can get the ball rolling in actually setting and achieving those goals.
This isn’t to say you need to have everything perfect and get rid of all self-doubts before getting into a relationship. No one would ever start dating if they had to be 100% self-confident all the time. Thinking seriously about how and where you want things in your life is a good idea though, it can help you understand what’s actually holding you back from a relationship and what might just be an excuse because you’re afraid.
Even if you don’t have serious baggage to deal with, it’s important to give yourself some time to think things over and understand where you want to be.
Think outside the box
Sometimes baggage isn’t always what we think it is and is harder to identify than we might think. Dr. Audrey Sherman wrote an article for Psychology Today where she briefly pointed out a few common sources of baggage. It can stem from childhood, family, and even from things like following your dreams.
If you know what your baggage is, you can more easily overcome it and live a happier and less anxious life. (Check out Dr. Sherman’s article, it’s an interesting read that might hit a little closer to home than you’d like, but it’s insightful nonetheless).
With a little soul searching, it might not be as hard as you think to identify your baggage. Just thinking about the things that hold you back from a new commitment is usually enough to figure out the first issues to work on.
Not everything will be intuitive, and processing your baggage is a whole other discussion, but even if it feels like there’s a lot you have to work through, remember that identifying the issues is the first step to solving them. Taking that first step will help you take the next and then the next, and before you know it, you’ll be a fully functioning adult ready to put yourself out there.