Emotional baggage often refers to the negative emotions and unresolved past experiences that can affect our present and future. It is often the way we talk about the residue we're left with after dealing with life's hard stuff.
We are told that carrying emotional baggage can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and other negative emotions. It can also lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as self-sabotage, avoidance, or addiction. It can also affect one's ability to form healthy relationships and achieve one's goals.
But because I'm prone to being contrary, I don't think having emotional baggage is the problem; framing it as such is.
By calling it “emotional baggage”, we immediately label the emotions as heavy, inconvenient, cumbersome, and something to be manoeuvred around. The overarching feeling here is that we should enjoy carrying them around and slam them down the second they get too heavy.
And I wonder how useful it is for us to be collectively framing our emotions in this way. It certainly encourages us to try and get away from any potential lessons as soon as possible.
The analogy of unpacking is a cute but naive thought. I think the whole metaphor is steeped in framing our emotions or something to escape, which makes me wonder what else could be possible. I prefer to think of my emotions as clothes that I could try on if I want to. How does this one feel or fit? Does it feel tight or restrictive, or comfortable or familiar? Does this one make me feel invincible or invisible? And most importantly, how do I want to feel?
This allows me to remember that how I feel is a choice, and I get to decide how I feel by choosing how I think about things.
When I drive my days actively by choosing what I want to put on, I also get to decide who I want to be that day, and I get to explore with curiosity rather than an inconvenience. And when I do this, having natural human responses suddenly feels a lot less like an inconvenience.
Want to learn how to apply these lessons to those tricky relationships in your life, without feeling like you constantly need to pack up and go? My Stress-Free Relationships course begins this weekend.