When you just cannot move forward in life, it could be that your unresolved emotional issues are weighing you down. So many of us carry emotional baggage from somewhere. It shows in the way we speak, our actions, and even our expressions.

We can try to push and cram all our emotional belongings into a suitcase in our minds, but sooner or later, that suitcase is going to burst open, spilling all our emotional garbage everywhere. This won’t be a pretty site either.

What is emotional baggage?

Simply put, it is trauma, heartache, loss, love, lost friendships, and all other sorts of things. They are things that our minds refuse to release. For some reason, we keep ruminating and mulling over these issues, never finding closure or healing.

The baggage we carry with our emotions can spill out so far that it can affect others around us too, adding to their own problems. It’s just a complete mess and something that’s best eliminated or controlled.

Indicators that you’re stuck with emotional baggage

1. Repeating unhealthy relationships

Whether it’s the fact that you’ve been divorced several times, or you’re having problems connecting with the right people. If you’re repeating bad marriages or relationships, then maybe you’re carrying your baggage from one relationship to the other.

Now, this doesn’t mean the other party doesn’t have the baggage of their own. Sometimes it can be two people hashing through unhealthy pasts. However, it’s a big indicator that your emotional baggage is not letting you move on if you’re continually dating or associating with the same types of people.

2. You’re not living your potential

When you carry baggage from place to place, you will become weighed down, tired and even hopeless. Emotions passed from one experience to the other can kill passions that you used to have inside.

For example, if you love to garden, cook, play the piano, or other fulfilling things, your emotional baggage will leave you with no interest in these things anymore. If you don’t feel like doing the things you used to love, then that’s a sign you’re carrying the past into the present, and you’re also stuck in that pattern, maybe even stuck with someone that doesn’t make you happy.

3. Mental illness can be a sign

Not all mental disorders are genetic. Some of them come from years of being stuck in an unhealthy place. Maybe you’ve been in a marriage for 20 years, enduring unhappiness for the sake of your children. Oh, how this is such a wrong thing to do. Actions like this can develop depression, anxiety, and other acquired problems.

With 20 unhappy years under your belt, you have several backpacks full of stuff you need to unpack. And for goodness sake, never stay for the kids. If a relationship is ruining your mental health, get out.

4. You haven’t faced the past

Sometimes really bad things happen in the past to people. Sometimes adults are survivors of childhood abuse or neglect. Sometimes adults are survivors of war, automobile accidents, or other trauma.

I’ve noticed that the first thing people want to do is forget about what happened, and this is the opposite of what they should be doing. Emotional baggage grows and grows the more trauma you ignore and the longer you keep it buried. If you’re not facing the past, you are dragging huge trunks of emotional belongings.

5. Your past is spilling into your future

You can have an otherwise healthy relationship, but it can be quickly tainted by things from the past. While there are red flags telling you that something is wrong, there are also coincidences that make you over-react and drag out old emotional scars. Then you apply these scars to your present situation.

If you’re taking a perfectly healthy union and basing it on all your damaged or broken unions of the past, then you are carrying baggage filled with old emotional content. If you happen to have a good partner, this is not fair to them.

6. Your sleeping habits are atrocious

Are you having trouble sleeping? If so, maybe you’re having nightmares every night. And if you are, then maybe it’s because of unresolved conflicts and trauma.

I have many traumatic situations from my past that invade my dreams most every night. Sometimes I feel okay in the morning, but sometimes I feel as though I’ve been run over by a truck. Until I get all this stuff cleaned out, my nights will continue to be inconsistent. This could be what’s happening to you too.

7. Emotional outbursts

For the most part, staying calm is pretty easy, but if you are carrying emotional baggage, eventually, there will be an outburst of some kind. It’s like cramming things in that suitcase we were talking about and not expecting it to pop open eventually.

If you have unresolved issues, hence the baggage, sooner or later, there will be an outburst of some kind. You would start yelling at someone after holding in your feelings for too long, or you could even get into a fight. If you’ve had any outbursts lately, then check to see if you have a bit of baggage left unchecked.

How can we move on?

Everyone comes with baggage. Find someone who loves you enough to help you unpack.

Everyone comes with baggage. Find someone who loves you enough to help you unpack.

-Unknown

The whole point of all this is to understand how to move past our emotional baggage. We have to unpack each item and take a close look at it. Do you have some childhood abuse folded up in there, maybe a whole stack of it? Then unfold it, look at it, and talk to someone about what happened. Yes, get help, and soon.

Do you have unhealthy past relationships rolled into the corner of the suitcase trying to hide and be forgotten? Well, grab those and learn what went wrong. Say there were two bad relationships, look at one, and objectively remember where the fights, disagreements, and divisions started.

Learn how not to repeat the same patterns. Most of the time, where relationships are concerned, it’s wise to stay alone for a few years between. Unfortunately, I know way too many people who hop from one relationship to the next, looking for better. Most of the time, they get the same or worse because they haven’t unpacked their baggage yet.

If emotional baggage concerns family relations, you have to continue staying in touch with your family despite what may have happened in the past. That is unless your family is the source of some kind of abuse, in which that baggage now has to be forgiven. If it’s just about old disagreements, you have to face each other and find a compromise.

There are many ways to unpack those suitcases and backpacks, but if you don’t you will carry them with you forever. And, no matter how old you are, you don’t want to have these things still sitting by your bedside at the end of your life. No regrets remember.

I hope you unpack your baggage soon. I am working on mine.

Sherrie Hurd, A.A.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Nilesh Gaikwad

    Hi Sherrie,

    Sometimes emotional baggage can cost a lot of mental energy. It is better to accept that bad things happen and instead of wallowing in the past bad experience we need to let it go and move on. And I think that is the essential thing everybody should do who is having emotional baggage. Am I right?

    1. Sherrie Hurd
      Sherrie Hurd

      I do believe that emotional baggage is bad. Carrying your issues from one relationship to the next hurts you and your partner. BUT, sometimes, the next partner does the same things as the one before. This is where it gets complicated. If the new partner is indeed doing the same thing, you can expect they will blame your emotional baggage for your complaints about them. It can be called deflecting in a way. It takes a great amount of discernment to tell the difference between whether you are damaging your relationship by basing it on the past, or if you are experiencing the same abuse as you did in the past.

      I just thought I would let you know that. Everyone needs to know these things because people who use your pain from the past to hurt you again should be weeded out, confronted, and if they cannot stop, should be left with their own toxicity. If not their bad behavior, such as lying, will rub off on you. So make sure it truly is emotional baggage you’re dealing with.

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