According to the literature on the subject, emotional baggage is a catch-all term for the psychological scars that we carry around with us from the past. The term most often refers to the emotional scars that we inherit from parents and other older family members, although emotional baggage can also include the more subtle scars of friends, peers, and teachers.

Emotional baggage can take many forms, from a tendency toward anxiety or anger to a tendency toward depression or self-sabotage. It may manifest as a fear of intimacy, or an inability to trust others. It can also take the form of addictions to drugs, alcohol, or food, or to people, activities, or behaviours.

When we talk about baggage, we are referring to the emotional baggage we carry around with us. In essence, emotional baggage is the pain, grief, anger, resentment, fear, hurt, and other painful feelings that we have buried inside us. It is these feelings that we attach to certain people or situations. We then carry these feelings around with us and allow them to negatively affect us and our relationships.

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When you’re struggling with a mental health problem, it can be hard to recognize whether you’re just feeling down, or if your moods are the result of something deeper. After all, many people have bad days along with good ones. But if you’re still struggling with deep-seated emotional issues, such as anxiety or depression, those negative feelings may be due to what psychologists call your emotional baggage.

Here are the top signs that you are carrying emotional baggage which is affecting your relationship and life:

Avoiding Responsibility

You avoid responsibility as much as possible because of past Experiences. You have the feeling that you are not good enough or capable enough to take responsibility. You somehow feel that responsibilities are tieing you, pulling you back from whatever or whoever you want to be.

Feeling used

You feel everyone is using you, Every person that you come across in your life seems to use you for their own gain. It does not matter if the person is doing something for you, you believe that in the future or in later times, a person will take advantage of you.

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Being unable to do everyday things

You get lost in your past emotions and emotional burdens which creates hurdles in dealing with your daily work. Your lifestyle gets affected because you are lost somewhere. Mentally you are not present in your life, you are somewhere in your past experiences.

Feeling lonely

You feel lonely all the time. Whether you are with your romantic partners or family, you are always alone and have the loner feeling all the way. You feel that no one understands you. No one knows what you have been through, and how difficult it has been for you.

Wallowing in regrets

Whataboutery in your head seems to be your best friend and regretting your past decisions seems to be the problem here. You have a habit of blaming yourself for everything bad that has ever happened to you. You think that it was you who let these things happen to yourself and you could have done things differently.

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Dwell on the past

You stay in your past and do not move on. Those memories are so precious to you that you keep them in your mantle to see them every time. You feel the need to go back and stay with your past instead of looking ahead and reliving your life. You are so scared of past experiences that you are scared of the future.

Mood swings

Your mood changes. You can’t decide or stay on one thing. The smallest things make you happy one moment and in another, the same thing brings tears to your eyes. Your mood changes with passing moments and you do not have any control over it.

Feeling of Unworthiness

You self-loath. You feel that you deserve the pain. You are not worthy of love and happiness. You feel or in fact start to believe that you are not meant for love. You believe that staying in the pain is your life and you do not deserve the good things or deserve to be happy again.

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Over Analyzing everything

You start to overthink and overanalyze every small thing, which does not even require attention. You feel that if you analyze things then maybe you can avoid your mistakes from the past to happen again. But in doing so, you overanalyze everything and make it complicated.

Difficulty trusting

You are not able to trust your partner or your family and friends. Trusting people is a very difficult challenge for you because of the unprocessed emotions of the previous experiences. You feel that people will take advantage of you and they will never be true to you and hence, you should not share your feelings, emotions, or any desire with anyone. 

These are the top signs if you are having excess baggage of previous life experiences which is affecting your everyday life and a happy relationship. I do understand those unresolved emotions, previous life experiences, experiences of previous relationships are like bad habits which are not at all easy to overcome, but you can’t be living in the past forever and making your present life difficult.

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After you’ve figured out that the problem, The next step is to figure out how to go about dealing with the emotional baggage that you have accumulated. For many people, this requires them to look inwards and to figure out what it is that they are going to have to do in order to be able to get past the emotional baggage that they have.

Now that we are aware of the signs, let’s read how to let it go

Realize that letting go is good for you

Maybe the past was good, or golden maybe, but the fact remains that it’s a PAST and you need to let it go. It can’t be good for anyone. Staying in your past, you are affecting the bright and beautiful future ahead of you. Look forward and let go of the pain. You keep the experience, the memory, and love from the past, but don’t stay in there. Life moves on and so, do you? Tell your memory that I can love you and still let you go.

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Find a way to forgive

There will always be people who have wronged you, ruined something for you. You have to find a way to forgive them and deal with your grudge. You need to understand Why holding grudge is bad for you? There are severe mental health issues related to it. Previous experiences are simply not worth risking your current lifestyle.

Surround yourself with a support group

You should keep yourself surrounded with people with positive energy, people who support you in your journey, not the ones, who are critical even when you breathe. If you are not able to find any such friends, it’s high time you need to think about  making some new friends

Develop a plan to let go of the baggage

You need to plan step by step on how you can overcome this burden of past toxic experiences which keeps holding you from moving ahead. No one expects you to move on in one day. That’s impossible. But slowly and steadily you have to keep the baggage away.

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Avoid keeping new emotional baggage

Learn from past experiences and don’t add any new baggage. Your mind and heart are your home. Keeping new baggage will make it look messy and dirty. Always remember, the more the baggage is the more time it requires to clean and time is precious.

Visualize letting it go

Take a moment out from your busy day and take a cup of coffee, sit in your favourite place and imagine how beautiful everything is. How many amazing things are surrounding you. How amazing will it be to let it go… How will it feel to be free again, to open yourself to something new again…

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Talk to someone about it.

You will have a person who is a best friend/family/relative or someone who is very close to you. If you don’t have anyone that close, I would suggest you speak to a specialist who can help you to get rid of the emotional baggage you have been carrying around. You deserve better than the baggage. Read more about Preventative Measures to help avoid a Mental Health Issue here from Christiana’s Blog here.

Love yourself and life will love you back.

This post is co-authored by Riya.