Most of us have been there at some point. Standing at the airline ticketing desk and crossing our fingers for a hopeful outcome as we place our bags on the scale.
But alas, our luggage has exceeded the allowance we’re able to check for free and we’re slapped with a hefty overage fee.
Our frustration, however, overshadows the reason for this limitation – to keep the weight of the aircraft less than a certain amount. If the plane is overloaded, it may not make it off the ground.
And even if it does take off, it will likely have trouble maintaining level flight. If we equate these concepts with relationships, romantic or otherwise, and simply use the term “excess emotional baggage,” we can often draw the same conclusion. If both parties are entering into a relationship with overloaded with baggage from the past, it is bound to have problems.
And if it manages to get off the ground safely, it still may have trouble maintaining level flight.
What is Emotional Baggage?
Emotional baggage can be many things, including:
- The misinformation we received about coping with grief and loss
- The poor habits we developed in past relationships
- The accumulation of well-intended communications gone wrong
Emotional baggage feels like emotionally stepping back in time. Rather than reacting to a situation like a mature adult, we may react like a younger version of ourselves. And much like lugging a massive suitcase through a busy airport, carrying excess emotional baggage can be exhausting or even crippling, and demands a high price. Physical side effects (high blood pressure, headaches, insomnia, depression, etc.) aside, excess emotional baggage is detrimental to our behavior and attitudes and can harm our relationships.
Unpacking Your Baggage
Digging up the past isn’t easy, but it is a critical step in moving forward.
Here are a few tips to help you lose that emotional baggage.
- The first step to unpacking that excess baggage is to identify it. First, try and jot down some of the problems and conflicts that have surfaced in your life. How much of your time and energy is spent in dealing with these issues? How has your emotional, physical, and spiritual health been affected by the weight of these issues?
- Next, stop blaming others for your problems. You have to take responsibility for your life, your actions, and your emotions. The blame game won’t change anything. And this includes blaming yourself! Break the blame chain and you’re bound to escape this vicious cycle.
- Finally, extend forgiveness to yourself and others so you can truly let go of the hurt that you have experienced. It won’t be easy and a person may not be deserving or even ask for your grace, but it is crucial to paving a positive path forward.
Unlike luggage, we don’t have the option to pack up our emotions and ship them off to a faraway destination. We do, however, have the option to take charge of them and choose how they will affect us from this point forward. Choosing to drop our baggage can lead to a much stronger, more balanced life.