Emotional baggage had been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. Growing up, I experienced emotional trauma that left me feeling drained and stuck in the past. I was constantly reminded of the pain from these experiences, which weighed me down in every aspect of my life.
I recognized I needed to do something to confront this emotional baggage head-on, so I set out to invest in myself. I began to take the time to understand why these negative emotions had such a strong hold on me and actively worked towards processing them.
I developed techniques such as mindful meditation and journaling that allowed me to better deal with my emotional baggage instead of avoiding it. I also learned to practice emotional self-care by engaging in activities that made me feel good.
This emotional journey was not easy, but it was incredibly rewarding. By investing in myself and taking the time to process my emotional baggage, I have become more confident and independent. My emotional wellbeing has improved drastically and there is a newfound joy in my life.
I’m still learning to manage emotional baggage every day, but I’m proud of the progress I’ve made. Everyone carries emotional baggage and it’s never too late to invest in yourself by confronting and processing these experiences. Take the time you need to find your emotional peace.
With that being said, I’m going to discuss how emotional baggage can hurt you and the steps needed to process it. I’m excited to help others invest in themselves on their emotional journey.
What is Emotional Baggage?
According to a study published in the journal BMC Family Medicine, emotional baggage is a barrier to making positive lifestyle changes.
Baggage is defined as negative, unprocessed emotions from past experiences. Because life is full of challenges, everyone has emotional experiences in their past. Positive past experiences can help a person by being a source of strength, happiness, and hope.
But past negative experiences, when left unprocessed, can cause you to become emotionally unavailable and prevent you from enjoying life. Invest in yourself by knowing what baggage you carry, recognizing the signs, and getting rid of baggage.
Types of Baggage
Not everyone has the same life experiences. People may also process experiences in different ways. While various experiences can contribute to the different types of baggage, the underlying problems are the same. Types of baggage include:
- Negative Self-Talk
You may feel guilty about how you treated someone in the past. You may also regret your actions toward another person or your own decision not to pursue a particular path. A study published in Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience concluded that fear disrupts a person’s ability to cope with life challenges. Fear is often the result of guilt or regret because a person may fear making the same mistake.
Negative self-talk is a part of low self-esteem. If you did not have positive support in your past or experienced verbal or emotional abuse, you might have internalized what was said about you by others. Negative self-talk keeps you from trusting and believing in yourself so you can manage life’s challenges.
Signs of Emotional Baggage
When you haven’t processed negative past emotions, the baggage you carry can affect your attitude, mindset, and actions. A psychological study published in the International Journal of Business Excellence showed that unprocessed negative emotions significantly affect overall well-being. Sign of baggage include:
- Lack of Intimacy
- Commitment Issues
Emotional intimacy is not the same as physical intimacy. Emotional intimacy takes place when you open yourself up mentally and emotionally to another person. This could be a friend, family member, or colleague.
Being unable to connect emotionally with people is a sign of baggage. Commitment issues can result from a lack of intimacy. Refusing to build and maintain long-term relationships often occurs when there is a lack of intimacy.
Paranoia and projection include being afraid your relationships won’t last and assuming other people have your same insecurities. Paranoia and projection can cause you to pull away from others and create commitment issues.
Comparison occurs when you look for the traits of past negative situations or relationships in the situation or relationship you have now. Looking for past negative traits can ruin your current well-being.
How To Get Rid of Your Emotional Baggage
Psychologists agree that people need the tools, time, and support to process negative past emotions. Working with a counselor or therapist can help you process your baggage and move forward. Other ways to get rid of your baggage include:
- Be Kind to Yourself
- Acknowledge Baggage
- Address Baggage
- Be Mindful
First, remember to be kind to yourself. Your experiences and reactions may be different from other people’s. Don’t compare yourself to others who you feel manage their emotions better. Acknowledge the types of baggage you have and what signs you see of carrying baggage in your life. Be honest with yourself in a kind way.
To get rid of baggage, you do need to address it. What can you do to replace your baggage with positive feelings and actions? Working with a therapist might help. You can also talk to a trusted friend or family member. Use affirmation, or positive statements about yourself, to overcome negative self-talk.
Being mindful and present in the moment can help get rid of most baggage. Stop living in the past and letting it define your now. Ask questions, be honest, and work toward building positive relationships and experiences to replace the past’s negative ones. Be grateful for where and who you are now, and keep investing in yourself and your happiness.