You’ve probably heard the term “emotional baggage.”
It’s sometimes used to describe the phenomenon of carrying past trauma or so-called negative experiences through life, relationships, or a career.
You may see this reflected in someone’s posture as if they’re carrying around an unbearable weight. It may even prevent them from moving forward in life.
Everyone carries unprocessed emotions from experiences to some degree. However, emotions that aren’t dealt with don’t just go away.
Emotional baggage refers to negative emotions we might be going through due to past experiences but we must overcome them to grow and attain mental peace.
Emotional baggage can cause stress, depression, and anger outbursts. In some advanced cases, it may also lead to suicidal thoughts. Emotional baggage weighs us down and lets past experiences undermine the prospects of a better future.
Emotional baggage is nothing but insecurities mixed with inhibitions due to events that took place in one’s life. Triggers range from an abusive or neglected childhood to stressful personal relationships with friends, family, or romantic partners. These factors cause a trust deficit, both with respect to others and ourselves. Here are five types of emotional baggage and what you can do to get rid of them so that they never hold you back again.
5 Emotional Baggages you should get rid of.
1. The Unlucky.
The unlucky will be able to tell you how they’ve never achieved a promotion, never won a competition, or been chosen first. Okay, so during basketball practice in your teens, you may have been chosen last, but that doesn’t mean you are going to keep that level of luck for the rest of your life.
With that in mind, holding on to outdated beliefs about your luck makes you the victim of your life. And if you are the victim, there’s nothing you can do about it.
This doesn’t just work on luck. If you work in the public sector or fit any popular media story (having a long-term illness, stressed, overworked, parent, teen, etc.), then, you are likely to be bombarded about how poorly paid you are and how the government, public, and media don’t appreciate you.
When working with these demographics, I often find that this is detrimental baggage that stops people from finding better ways of working so that they reduce stress and enjoy work more, often working fewer hours.
So, if you want to hold onto that baggage, what will you be accepting? As a parent or teen, you can feel like you are constantly being put upon—if you were to flip that, could you see that you are also trusted and relied upon? That you are loved and valued?
For any of these, look for the feelings you get as a result—do you feel guilty? Frustrated? Regretful? Unappreciated?
2. The Unloved.
Everyone has been ditched. If you feel like you aren’t good enough or can’t get things in life, are you holding on to beliefs about who people think you are? What do people think you are like? That feeling that you aren’t good enough and unloved can be detrimental to every part of your life, even preventing you from finding love.
Of all the fears I see impact happiness and success, the fear of what people will think of us can hang out in so many fears. You can stop this from happening by defining how you see the world.
Remember that what goes on in your head is personal to you. No one can own it or be involved in it without your permission. Start here and then, look around you to discover how this manifests in your life.
3. The Inner Hater.
There are no limits to what the inner hater can do to you. They’ve been in your mind, actions, and results for so long that they probably feel like a part of you. If you find you judge yourself harshly compared to everyone else, look for the hater. They will be able to list every occasion that you made a mistake, didn’t act quick enough, let someone down, or failed.
Every human fails, makes mistakes, gets it wrong and lets, someone down. It’s important to remember that this doesn’t need to define your future. If you find that you are poor at hearing compliments or accepting you are doing brilliantly, test whether your emotional baggage inner hater is silenced
The quickest way to do this is to write a large list (two sides) of why you are awesome. It may seem indulgent and pointless; however, we often find that emotional baggage is held on to when the facts are dismissed for the accepted beliefs.
So, if you want to ditch the emotional baggage and get what you want in life, then write that list. And make sure you pin it up somewhere, so you are reminded of just how awesome you really are.
4. The Overbearing Parent/Teacher.
“You will never amount to anything” or “Why won’t you apply yourself” is what they tell you. (See below for the opposite that can be just as disastrous for you to hang on to.)
Having negative people around that berate you can impact you for a long time. They may have meant well. They may have hoped their harsh powerful words would inspire you, not appreciating how they cut you down and made you feel like a failure. But that doesn’t give those words power—you are doing that.
What do you believe to be true about your capabilities that need to be challenged? People still love personality tests that help them prove why they are good at things or bad at others, even though it’s been proven to be scientifically inaccurate. People will still hold on to pseudoscience unless it supports what they want to believe.]
You may have been a messy teenager or a lazy intern, but that doesn’t define who you are in the future. You get to do that. The opposite end of this scale is the people from your past who told you that you can do anything. How many have sat through a shocking rendition of a piece of music only to see the parent proudly waving and cheering with a phone in hand saying, “in 20 years, my little Sam will be the best musician in the world!”?
If you aren’t getting the results you want in life, then it could be that you’re holding on to emotional baggage that says you rock at something when clearly, you need a reframe on that thought to be able to upskill and retrain. It takes guts to look at what you believe and ask, “Is this really true?”
You need to know that you are doing a good job, so if you are or not, getting the right feedback can enable or inhibit growth. According to a study, “78% of Gen Xers believe performance reviews are formalities that do not offer constructive opportunities for growth.” So, be mindful that you are seeking out quality feedback and not feedback that just reinforces what you already believe.
5. The Scared Child.
The scared child tells you absolutes, like “I can’t do this”. They base every opportunity or obstacle on the theory that they’ve already failed because evidence from the past proves this, and they don’t think to override this.
A scared child is not always scared, nor does this emotional baggage showcase itself so obviously. A lot of the time, the scared child hides behind confidence and actions that mask the real issue(s). The challenge is that the scared child holds on to outdated beliefs about what is possible.
If you realize that you have a frightened version of yourself hanging out inside, think back to a time you felt truly loved. It didn’t matter what happened just that you remember how that person was there for you.
Imagine that you are four years old and really want to learn to ride a bike. Some of us are lucky enough to jump on, wobble a little, and fly off, never to look back at riding a bike as an obstacle. On the other hand, others will wobble and fall, and wobble and fall.
How does the wobbler get up and keep going? With love, the right people, and the right words.
As that voice says “you can’t do this,” along comes someone that loves you who says “you’ve got this.” Even if you haven’t, they give you the self-belief to say “come on, let’s try again.” Look for those that nurture, love, and support you.
A word of caution—don’t wait for the outside world to help you overcome your scared inner child. It’s highly unlikely that no one got you washed and dressed today, interpreted what you said to get you breakfast, or brushing your teeth and hair for you. You have plenty of evidence that says you are not the child of your past because you’ve already achieved so much. Look for that evidence!