I think it’s extremely important to learn how to deal with emotional baggage so it doesn’t define you or affect the decisions you’ll make in your future. I couldn’t agree more with what Ha Jin said: “Sometimes the past should be abandoned, yes. Life is a journey and you can’t carry everything with you. Only the usable baggage.” The term emotional baggage actually refers to all our emotional memories (especially the painful ones) that shape our entire belief system, that influence the way we see ourselves and the way we conduct ourselves in relationships. A lot of studies have shown that our past experiences have a huge influence on the types of people we are attracted to, and also on how we think and act in our present relationships. In order to not let those painful memories influence your present and affect your well-being, here are a few very useful tips on how to deal with emotional baggage, so it doesn’t define you:
1. Identify Your Issues
One of the first things you should do if you want to learn how to deal with emotional baggage is to identify your issues, since you can’t deal with something if you don’t know what that thing is. Just think about your childhood and your other significant relationships throughout your entire life and try to figure out if certain things hurt you, traumatized you or left you with different wounds and scars.
2. Identify Your Triggers
The next step you should take is to identify your triggers and here I’m talking about different things that remind you of your past, that bring back old memories, old feelings or even old reactions. Let’s say that one of your ex partners has cheated on you and you haven’t managed to get through that situation, then a trigger could be the fact that your current partner is talking on the phone with one of their work-colleagues or that they are simply talking to some other woman at a party. Immediately, you might think that they are cheating on you and you would act like you’re upset even though your partner did nothing wrong.
3. Acknowledge Your Emotions
Once you identify the triggers, try to acknowledge your emotions and don’t allow them to overwhelm you. Don’t blame yourself for feeling this way! You need time to heal. The important thing is that you are working on this aspect of your life and that you are not going to let your emotional baggage define you. Try to find closure by sharing your feelings with someone close that you trust. Just acknowledge all those painful memories but don’t wallow in them.
4. Find at Least One Positive in Each Painful Experience
Each painful situation that you’ve been through must have had at least one positive, so start looking for that silver lining in your cloud, since you are no longer a victim. You can take action to change your behavior and the way you are thinking, so try to find the good in every situation that you’ve been through. For example, if your partner has cheated on you, now you know how to choose your partners more wisely and you probably cherish other qualities in a person than you did before.
5. Be Patient
You need to have patience, since those wounds from your past need time to heal and change doesn’t happen overnight. It’s time to build new habits that will replace those old dysfunctional ones and that will help you reach your goals and fulfill all your dreams. This takes time, so don’t despair if you don’t see any results the next day. Be patient and take the time to clear your mind, so you’ll be able to overcome all those obstacles from your past.
6. Visualize Yourself Happy
One of the most important things you could do in order to get past all those painful memories and experiences from your past is to visualize yourself happy. Try to imagine how that would feel and release that old baggage! By doing this, you will feel liberated, you will be able to think more clearly and you will be able to enjoy the things you already have that much more.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help!
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you feel overwhelmed or if you don’t know how to handle all those painful emotions and experiences from your past. You could go see a therapist who will help you deal with those issues and who will help you see the light at the end of the tunnel. You could also talk to one of your close ones who will offer you the support and understanding you need to get past those difficult times.
It’s not so easy dealing with all kinds of issues from your past, especially if they still interfere with the way you think or with the way you act in the present. Yet, with a bit of hard work and with a lot of patience, I’m sure you’ll manage to handle your emotional baggage. Do you know any other tips on how to deal with emotional baggage so that you won’t allow it to define you? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section!