What's in your Emotional Backpack?

There is something magical about September. The fall is a time to hunker down, learn, and take on new challenges. All at once, it feels like a time of new beginnings and a time to honor old traditions. Despite the fact that I haven't been in school for quite sometime, I still feel tempted to sharpen pencils, buy new books, and study. This fall, I've had the opportunity to teach emerging therapists at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA. Over the past few weeks, I've been reminded time and time again that we, "teach what we most need to learn."  

One topic that I like to teach my students early on is to access and explore what's in their "emotional backpack." 

Regardless of whether or not we are in school, each of us carry around an emotional backpack. When we wake up in the morning our backpack is with us. When we go to work or school our backpack is with us. Throughout our lives we carry around a backpack of experiences, memories, thoughts, dreams, fears, desires, and relationships. 

Over the years this backpack might feel like it has "rocks" in it. Our lives begin to feel heavy. The rocks that fill our backpacks are neither good nor bad. However, they make up much of who we are and they inform how we interact with the people and world around us. 

This week, one of my "rocks" hit me square in the head while I was stopping for my morning Starbucks in Malibu.

As I opened the door to the store, the barista called out "Hi, Kelley. How's it going?" I froze realizing that I had no idea what his name was. I confessed this fact to him and asked him how he knew my name.

He replied, "Kelley, you have been coming here for four years....of course I know your name." In that moment, I realized how easy it is to lack presence in daily life. 

Despite being incredibly embarrassed, this moment reminded me of the result of caring around my own backpack full of rocks. The rocks in my backpack, have caused me to value quickness and efficiency. They inform my desire for movement and forward momentum. And while this has served me well in my life, it is also the thing that preventing me from looking up, landing, and being present with others around me. 


Our rocks are a part of us. They are the memories, experiences, moments, and challenges  that help create the building blocks of who we are. However, sometimes it is important to take our rocks out of our backpacks and decide if we really have a use for them anymore.