Why do we have emotional baggage and where does it come from?
Emotional baggage refers to your negative, unprocessed, unresolved emotional turmoil from past experiences. The good news is that you’re not alone, we all travel through life with baggage- our painful, negative experiences played a part in shaping the person we are today. The Bad news these feelings, if left untreated continue to shape who you are, how you think, the choices you make and the actions you take.
The Problem with Carrying a Heavy Load
While past experiences (and the emotions that came with them) come with a lesson that may help us make better choices and better navigate future experiences. It still depends on how we interpret and perceive the experience. How we think about our past affects the way we act moving forward.
In a qualitative study from Norwegian Healthy Life Centre, participants found that emotional baggage can be a real barrier to making healthy lifestyle changes (like exercising more, eating healthier, or quitting smoking). “Participants described being burdened by an emotional baggage with problems from childhood and/or with family, work and social life issues,”
According to the report “Life baggage can interfere with professional ambition or goals, healthy relationships, personal contentment, and the enjoyment of life. Until you bring to your awareness why your life is not going the way you want; you can feel like a victim, someone who is being tossed around by life’s circumstances.”
Obvious Signs of Baggage?
If you recognize some of these emotions or behaviors in yourself, the next step is determining the underlying cause. Emotional baggage is as unique to each person as the suitcase they packed it in.
- Unexpressed feelings of hurt towards loved ones; partner, spouse, friends, or colleagues.
- Anger and Hate toward others- Cannot let go of the hurtful things done to us
- Unresolved anger about situations where we didn’t speak up or felt powerless, such as a personal or professional relationship
- Regret for not taking an opportunity, making a mistake, or for losing a relationship
- Grief about the loss of someone close whether it is a parent, partner, lover, friend, and even a pet
- Negative Self Blame- “How did I end up like this?” “It’s not my fault,” “My life isn’t fair”.
- Hidden baggage the type you may not even be aware of is equally dangerous because it can sneak up on you- notice the patterns
There are different kinds of emotional baggage you may be carrying around from various past experiences. Although there’s value in remembering what happened and keep the lessons learned, dragging it around with you doesn’t serve much purpose. It’s time to lighten your emotional load.
What is Weighing You Down?
“Guilt is a moral emotion that occurs when a person believes or realizes—accurately or not—that they have compromised their own standards of conduct or have violated universal moral standards and bear significant responsibility for that violation” – Wikipedia.
Feeling guilt after a misdeed is normal and can often be remedied by apologizing and taking steps to make up for whatever pain or offense caused.
To get rid of guilt, it’s best to confront the root of it. It may be necessary to reflect on the reasons for one’s feelings of guilt. Don’t judge yourself, Rather, focus on forgiving yourself and others, when you do this unselfish act you are giving yourself the space to move forward and grow. Lastly, learn from the experience.
Regret is the emotion of wishing one had made a different decision in the past because the consequences of the decision were unfavorable- wikipedia
Regrets are the kind you hang onto for years, it visits from time to time to keep some part of you attached to the past. In fact, if we leave it to fester, regrets can control your mood to ill effect and make you miserable.
To get rid of regret, you need to shift your thinking. Accept what was, don’t punish yourself- the damage has been done. Refuse to wallow in unfortunate events. Stop living in the past and start living in the present. Think about the future. The more you drag the past the longer the years you will live with regret.
Fear is an emotion induced by perceived danger or threat, which causes physiological changes and ultimately behavioral changes. It is experienced in your mind but triggers a strong physical reaction in your body.
The only way to deal with fear is to face it. Avoiding our fears only prevents us from moving forward—it makes us anxious and unproductive. Be compassionate with yourself take it one step at a time and do only what feels safe to you!
The important thing is you take the time to understand your fears, the root cause, and decide their validity. If needed, surround yourself with a support system to be with you as you face these scary experiences.
That inner voice inside our head is actually a really powerful voice if used positively. These inner critics are disguised in two voices- there’s the positive critic and the negative critic.
Your positive inner critic may say “hurray! you’re doing amazing (for a job well done). This kind of support propels you to do more and achieve more. And then there’s the negative inner critic who judges you for your appearance, your weight, your attitude, etc. – this promotes shame, self-doubt, and loss of confidence.
Be mindful of this voice inside your head. Set boundaries so you don’t judge yourself, acknowledge and use them to correct not degrade. Our thoughts and emotions are just energy passing through so don’t let it dictate your life.
5. Expectations & Comparisons
Letting go of expectations and comparisons is essential if you want to carry around less weight. Expectations (both of ourselves and of others) often lead to a lot of stress and Comparing yourself to others makes you less creative, and more competitive which diminishes your uniqueness.
PIN AS YOU PLEASE
Are you still willing to carry that weight?
As we go through the course of life, we pick out a bunch of junk here and there. The next thing you know you have reached your luggage limit and it’s already affecting the person you are becoming.
Time to de clutter
Take the time to sort out through that pile of life junk and de-clutter. Make your baggage lighter and easier to bear.
There’s a luggage limit for every passenger on a flight. The same rule applies to our lives. The lighter our luggage the easier the journey. Put closure on certain issues and do not allow them to become excess baggage- Excess baggage is expensive- it’s time to unload.
Remind yourself how incredible your life is. How you’re still standing, smiling, thriving. We need to remind ourselves that what we take with us moving forward is so much greater than what we left behind.
If you find yourself in this predicament do consider decluttering, share your story in the comment. I would love to hear from you. Also, if you are planning to take on this journey read this post HOW TO WIN THE WAR AGAINST YOUR MIND: THOUGHTS CREATE YOUR REALITY