Thought Catalog
April 7, 2017

A Step-By-Step Guide To Shedding Your Emotional Baggage And Living Your Best Life

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What is the issue?
@Aldona_P

What is it with us and that enormous emotional baggage that we tend to carry around? For a second, imagine yourself standing in the heavy pouring rain with an empty bucket. The longer you stand there holding the bucket, the heavier it gets. It gets heavier rather quickly, doesn’t it? How long can we hold it for? There comes a moment when we need to release it before it gets too much…

Sometimes we think that what happens to us and what goes to our emotional baggage is what defines us.

We have our bag of sorrows about the past and this striving desire to go back in time and change a few things for the better. Why? Because reality looks nothing like we have imagined. We have this image in our mind of the way things should be and it’s daunting us down. Some of us have trouble accepting what happened in the past and how things turned out because of that. And our emotional baggage grows with new sorrows.

So what hides in our emotional baggage? Isn’t it all about fear?
Isn’t about the fear of getting hurt again? Or making the same mistakes and going through disappointments and betrayals?
 And we then find ourselves trapped in that damaging and “protective” mechanism that keeps us away from living our lives free from used patterns.

How Much of Emotional Baggage Do We Carry Around?

We all have emotional baggage. Some of us have 3 suitcases of heavy things, some of us have just a tiny bag… Everyone has them. Sometimes we feel as if we were carrying a lifetime’s heaviness of sorrows, pain, and anger.

Painful emotions tend to shape us and the way we see others. Those memories and emotions influence what we seek and draw to our life and the way we interact with people. Painful memories from the past create a blueprint for the subconscious mind, which prevents us from fully taking part in new situations and relationships. Meaning that we might treat people we’ve just met as the “guilty” ones whom we feel anger towards because of the past. Or we recreate look-alike experiences to relieve and work out the past. 

Memories are just thoughts that have a tendency to rise like dough when it gets hot, but they aren’t real. It just happened and your past has no effect on you in the NOW. We can release ourselves from the tight grip of worrying by focusing on being present.

We don’t have to be tortured by guilt and things that happened in the past. We couldn’t comprehend back then how to handle things better. We tried our best at that time because no one can act beyond their level of consciousness. There is nothing worse than being tremendously upset with ourselves all the time.

We can’t change the past. There is no future in the past anyway. What we can do is to define our sorrows, release the pain and clear space for better things that life has in store for us.

Spotting Emotional Baggage

1. Endless Comparing Cycle – How often do you compare yourself and your life with others? Do you worry that you are not good enough?

2. Utter Deficiency  – It’s sharply experienced when we pay too much attention to our faults, shortcomings, and weaknesses feeling inadequate compared to the others. It turns into a habit and even obsession. We tend to go on a quest and dig up something new that we think is “wrong” about us. I certainly know the feeling…

3. Swinging Swords of Bad Moods – it happens when we feel contempt towards new situations, uncertainty about the future, people, and negative outlook on life as a whole.

4. Relocating Emotions and Feelings – Have you ever flipped out at someone because of something when you felt annoyed about something completely different? If we feel angry or annoyed with something or someone, we tend to transfer those emotions to someone else.

5. Terrified of Being Alone –  when we are uncomfortable in the company of ourselves, we jump into relationships we don’t care about, we work till we burn out completely, we even exercise extensively, we do-do-do… whatever it takes to distract ourselves from our thoughts. We run the race against ourselves and feel busted when we learn that there is no escape from our thoughts. And we need to learn to deal with them and that emotional baggage that we carry.

How to Deal With Emotional Baggage Effectively

1. Identify The Triggers & Acknowledge Your Emotions

Now. Imagine a crochet hook. Think about the hooks that yank unpleasant emotions. Make a list of all the things you could think of that weight you down. Think about your limiting beliefs and what caused them. Look for the similarities and the patterns. Then pay attention to your emotions.

The more we pay attention to the way we react to things and why the more we control our reaction and what triggers it. Identify the reality which is a direct reflection of your thoughts. And then, think about your new behavior that would enable you to live more freely from the sorrows of the past.

Emotional baggage is often framed as a “story” we tell ourselves. The more you challenge those stories, the faster you accept that you don’t have to carry that heaviness. The more you understand that you can leave that unnecessary heaviness out there on the carousel of the baggage claim and away from you and your life.

2. Do You Have a Desire to Heal and Be Free?

Our conscious desire to heal and be free from emotional baggage is crucial. We cannot heal unless we know what healing should feel like.

Ask yourself this: What will it feel like when I let go of the heaviness and leave my emotional baggage behind? How would I act and think since I don’t have to carry it with me anymore? How would my relationships with people look like?

Take your time to think and reflect on those questions.

Have your desire to heal and to be free at all times in your mind.

3. Forgiveness is Vital

Make it your goal to release yourself from all the weight of the emotional baggage. If you refuse to let go then all you do is sniff rotten milk you should have thrown away ages ago… 

Tap into your awareness and stay vigilant of your thinking process. Be aware of what exactly goes into your bucket and make sure you release it on time.

Bless your past, wish it well, forgive and let go…

When you forgive, you in no way change the past,
but you sure do change the future. – Bernard Meltzer

4. What Did You Take From The Experience?

Let’s take a look at our past experiences. What did you take from them? What lessons did they bring you?

It’s up to us how we choose to see the world: through the glasses of fear and contempt towards the future… or we can choose to embrace it with all the hope and forgiveness of the past.

The process of letting go and healing takes time. Change doesn’t happen overnight, and it takes a lot of courage and dedication to face the fears and sorrows. But it’s worth it. The moment we start shaping our decisions – our destiny changes.

Emotional baggage is all about fear. But remember that on the other side of fear your freedom is patiently waiting for you to come and claim it. TC mark

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