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Personal Baggage Removal

Have you ever run quickly and efficiently through an airport while carrying a lot of bags?

DIDN’T THINK SO.

BAGGAGE CHALLENGES SPECIFIC TO HIGH ACHIEVERS

1. Acknowledging that baggage has power makes high achievers feel weak.

2. Even after the baggage is acknowledged, high achievers have difficulty changing their approach to it. While they are intelligent and versatile in handling other problems, emotional baggage draws out a stubborn commitment to doing the same thing and expecting different results.

3. High achievers who are used to dealing with life by intellectualizing emotion will be uncomfortable with the strong emotions of baggage and may fear that it will overwhelm them.

A STORY OF BAGGAGE REMOVAL

Ray found himself "blowing-up" at some of his employees. His frustration was legitimate, but he often felt bad about how he had handled the situation. His wife had told him how hurt she was following some of his outbursts at home. Ray cared about his employees and loved his wife. He usually defended himself when someone pointed out his anger, but he felt like a failure inside.
Ray's high achieving personality resulted in him having high expectations of himself. He viewed his anger problems as a failure and didn't want to talk about them because it just made him feel bad. Ray's perspective on life was "the past is the past; you can't change it. Just move forward."
The first step was to validate Ray's strengths and address his anger outbursts as a problem to be solved rather than as a character defect. When people view weaknesses as character defects, they tend to be ashamed of themselves. This shame gets in the way of progress because the emotion prevents the strategic thought process that is necessary to move forward. Secondly, we looked at a variety of situations in which the anger had occurred, so that I could figure out the pattern of triggers. Thirdly, I obtained more information on Ray's background in order to figure out where the triggers originated. While I didn't need Ray to re-hash his entire childhood in detail, we did need to figure out what baggage he was dragging along without even realizing it. Once the triggers were identified, we focused on preventing the triggers. Simultaneously, we built a repertoire of stress reduction strategies so that Ray would have more control when the triggers occurred. This cognitive-behavioral approach got us about 80% of the way to his goals. Ray is an extremely motivated person and was willing to do whatever was necessary to win. Thus, we brought EMDR on board to help him offload the rest of the baggage.

COMMON MISTAKES:

1.  The number one mistake is the assumption that we can just “wipe our slate clean” and move forward. High achievers are great at many things. Frankly, your strengths allow you to be successful, even with a lot of baggage. The baggage may not limit success, but it can lower your personal happiness and reduce your ability to run cleanly and efficiently toward goals.

2.  People tend to shove aside the pain and shame of personal failures. In doing this, they thwart effective problem-solving. Try your best to step back from the emotion for a moment in order to assess the patterns of both your difficulties and your successes. When you pay attention only to the negative, you literally lose half of the information. The best results are when one is able to build a strategy based on successes (“What went right so that I can replicated it?”) and failures (“What didn’t work? Let me tweak it, test it, assess it again”).

The most courageous people I meet are those who are willing to walk through pain to get to peace.

–Dr. Tricia

1. You did not create all of your baggage.  Maybe you made some mistakes that added to it, but it is unlikely that it is 100% your fault.

2. The pain of acknowledging baggage will not last forever. Nor will it make you crazy. I have had people say “if I open up this suitcase, I’m afraid that I will be overwhelmed and never recover.” I have never had a person mentally collapse from opening the suitcase. We figure out how to manage the emotion.

3. Freedom feels awesome.

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