It’s time to leave your emotional baggage at the door, but first, we have to address some cold, hard facts: healthy coping mechanisms are the tool to success.
As human beings, we’ve all experienced some event that has stuck with us. And the older we get, or more traumatic the experience is, or inefficient our coping mechanisms are, they all seem to stick together until it accumulates to what is called “emotional baggage” in today’s society.
Emotional baggage is the cause of many failed relationships or can lead to incredibly toxic and unfortunately abusive and controlling relationships—platonic or romantic. So, how do we get rid of our emotional baggage? What causes it, and what can we do to prevent it from happening again, a method to stop it from accumulating so impossibly heavy and imposing again?
Continue reading for further information on where emotional baggage stems from, how to prevent it from affecting relationships, and how it can result in a healthier and happier you!
What Is Emotional Baggage?
The reference to carrying some “emotional baggage” refers to a collection of issues that stem from not promoting, not being taught, or not learning proper coping mechanisms in past relationships.
Where Does Emotional Baggage Begin?
Emotional baggage often stems from insecurities that have resulted from past experiences, learned coping mechanisms from a dysfunctional family dynamic, trauma, abuse, neglect, or past relationships. It can be caused by more than just romantic relationships, but familial and platonic.
When a person has not learned adequate or healthy coping skills, this will result in emotional baggage. From a lack of self-trust, an impossible need for perfection and control, self-destructive patterns to having zero to fluid boundary lines, having inefficient coping skills results in many negative impacts, including anxiety and depression, and failed relationships.
The Different Types Of “Baggage” & How To Leave Them At The Door
We all know work can be tiring and stressful, and depending on the work environment, work can bolster unnecessary drama in one’s workweek. And, often, this “workday baggage” can be hard to drop off at the door at home or around friends, family, or a romantic partner.
Holding onto this workday baggage can negatively influence your home and your relationships. Home is a sanctuary, not a garbage can meant to fill with emotional baggage that never gets taken out.
Home Time Is Not Work Time
Setting a healthy boundary between work and home is essential. It removes the possibility of not only affecting one’s home life but also acknowledging the need for rest and recovery away from the stress. Exhaustion comes from working long hours or in stressful environments.
Let the work day’s worries stay at work, and when at home, focus on the present and the people surrounding you to provide quality engagement, care, and respect for yourself and others.
The more involved a person is in the dating scene, the more baggage one can accumulate. That romantic emotional baggage can cause distrust, tension, and unrealistic expectations in relationships, which results in a failed or destroyed unsuccessful relationship.
They Can’t Fix It For You.
Before starting a new relationship with someone, heal and check the emotional baggage leftover from the previous relationship. It is not, under any circumstances, the other person’s (in the new relationship) responsibility to pick up and carry the emotional baggage you’ve brought to the relationship. That only overwhelms the other person with unrealistic expectations and the heavy burden of carrying that weight of your insecurities and emotional baggage. Hence, those relationships, more times than not, end up failing.
Commit To The Process
Like any healing process, healing from emotional baggage takes time, dedication, and consistency. Working to find a path that leads to successful closure with one’s emotional baggage can be trial and error, but the process is worth it in terms of successfully removing the weight that has been loading onto your shoulders for so long.
Big Notifiers That You Have Emotional Baggage
A common issue in many relationships, platonic or romantic, is emotional baggage. Some essential notifiers of having emotional baggage are as follows.
Coping mechanisms are learned through a set group dynamic growing up—family. And as we all know, every family has its emotional baggage, generational curses, toxic cycles, and inept coping mechanisms. Unfortunately, this is where we often learn coping mechanisms. However, other dynamics, such as peers from school and social media, are other settings where people will find themselves learning negative or positive coping mechanisms.
A chaotic or stressful family environment can result in a person learning the wrong, as in “unhealthy” methods to coping and communicating, leading to self-destructive patterns in succeeding relationships until properly approached and unlearned.
Emotional Management Incompetence
Being aware and having the ability to regulate one’s emotions is essential in promoting emotional management. When there is a lack of, this emotional management incompetence can lead to heavy emotional baggage and has been shown in two separate studies to affect a person’s wellbeing.
For a person with emotional management incompetence, some signifiers would stand out as having relationship conflict (platonic, familial, or romantic), physical outbursts, emotional detachment, emotional outbursts, and other notifiers. Emotional management incompetence, like emotional detachment, can be caused by neglect, trauma, and abuse and should be addressed by the individual or professional.
How can someone not trust themself? This cause of emotional baggage is more common than one might think.
One might dwell on the past to avoid making past mistakes ever again. Although this can be healthy and productive in protecting oneself from making serious mistakes, it can also be unhealthy. By compulsively and proactively ruminating over the past, this can cause trust issues with oneself and others, resulting in anxiety and depression.
Likewise, constantly ruminating about the future and whether you make the right choice can result in anxiety and self-distrust. The frustrating cycle of worrying causes negative inflections, while planning and problem-solving will result in more proactive and efficient handlings over issues and problems. Your need for control, by constantly ruminating about the past, present, and future, only leads to a lack of control Life cannot be controlled. When an unhealthy need to control every aspect of one’s life and circumstances is engaged, it only results in a chronic state of worrying, anxiety, depression, and failed or unhealthy relationships.
The Perfectionists’ Standards
It is another component of desiring “control.” Perfectionism is the black or white mentality, with no grey insight or the rulebook. Failure is more commonplace than success when holding oneself to this impossible, high-end standard of perfectionism. It leads to self-distrust, for how could one reach these nauseously high standards when others cannot reach them?
The answer is–they can’t.
The Ultimate Procrastinator
Procrastination is ultimately breaking a promise to get something done to avoid the possibility of failure and anxiety when ultimately, you must do this work or project either way. Instead, you have to do it in a shorter span of work time. Each instance of procrastination, and failure to follow through, proves that you cannot trust yourself since you do not follow through with promises and commitments.
When the task of managing emotions, a lot of the times hard ones, comes knocking on your metaphorical front door, do you forget that responsibility and seek reassurance or comfort from others? A family member? Spouse? Friend?
In those instances, you are signaling to your brain that you are unable to manage and handle the responsibility of processing and withstanding emotions that may be overwhelming, intense, or painful. Strive to process feelings before instantly calling up a parent or friend to build relational trust in oneself. It is important to note that leaning on others is not bad or inefficient. Still, that constant need for reassurance from others without properly processing emotions with oneself before seeking others leads to self-distrust.
Having zero or unhealthy boundaries proves that you have no respect for your own or others’ limits, values, needs, and wants. Boundaries are essential in any relationship, but specifically with romantic relationships, unhealthy boundaries can often lead to abusive or incredibly toxic relationships or increases the chance of this occurring.
The Line Of One’s Boundaries
Your boundaries are your values, beliefs, and perspectives and can influence your environment, culture, social group, or personal experiences. Setting personal boundaries must specifically be designed and decided by you.
For those with zero boundaries, relationships with others will be unhealthy and dramatic. A lack of boundaries sets up a blaring arrow to attract individuals who desire to control, manipulate, overpower, dominate, and abuse a person, which is why not having boundaries will more often than not lead to an abusive relationship.
Zero boundaries create codependent relationships with others, romantic and otherwise. A lack of boundaries or playing the field in “give and take” is commonplace in relationships.
Loss Of Self
The constant dependence on others makes decisions that lead to a loss of “self” or self-confidence. Decision-making is suddenly impossible to do without the dependence of others to take up the task. Personal desires and thoughts have become inept or irregular as your grasp and control lay into another’s hands.
Proving, once more, how essential it is to set one’s boundaries in stone, writing, or firmly addressed when another oversteps.
Healthy Coping Mechanisms To Practice
Emotional ups and downs are common in life. Still, when the lack of emotional regulation is commonplace rather than infrequent, there can be notable issues, hence striving to develop hoping emotional balance or awareness.
The Difference Between Emotional Regulation & Suppression
It is “regulation,” not “repression,” for a definitive reason. Positive and negative emotions can be intense if not regulated. It refers to “regulation” specifically, not running at an all-time high of one or more emotions, as this can be overwhelming.
Trying to “repress” or “suppress” emotions is not a healthy coping mechanism of emotional regulation. This method will contribute to mental and physical health problems, such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia, to name a few.
Experience The Emotions
Experience the emotions as you express them, but regulate them, so they’re not blowing the gasket and overwhelming yourself and others around you (in bursts or constant streams). When working to find the healthy balance of emotional regulation, work towards a happy middle range. Suppressing or repressing one’s emotions, so you don’t feel your emotions or irregulating emotions so that they’re significantly overwhelming is precisely the reason to strive towards healthy emotional regulation for better, healthier, and happier coping mechanisms.
Highs and lows of the emotional range human beings experience can be dreadfully and drastically different for each individual. Some can handle high-stress environments, while others would rather curl into a ball and cry than take on the idea of a high-stress environment. Either way, each person feels something valid for that person and their individual experience.
A situation or experience may not be a “big deal” to others, but it is to you. Don’t let others’ reactions invalidate your experience and take on intense emotions. In one study, learning to accept negative and positive emotions as they come and go has been observed and shown to improve psychological health. Another study believes that individuals who look to feelings as “guiders” or help rather than a hindrance have better emotional wellbeing and reasoning skills.
During an intense flare or flash of emotion, a method to use when trying to regulate emotions comes down to a simple yet effective act—-taking a deep breath. Remember, the goal isn’t to “suppress” an emotion, but taking a deep breath for a count of three, holding for a count of three, and exhaling for a count of three, can be effective in taking a step away from intense emotions and rationalize a healthy reaction or response.
Setting Healthy Boundaries
Notice how it says “healthy” boundaries, not just “boundaries.” There are those with zero boundaries, and then there are those that set boundaries so rigid that no one can get close to them. Having healthy boundaries–think similarly to the healthy balance of emotional regulation (so don’t suppress or repress, but withstand a balance)–is essential in sifting through emotional baggage such as trauma, bad coping mechanisms, or past abuse.
To impose healthy boundaries, clearly set your expectations and boundaries by communicating them or immediately being notified when someone has crossed or attempted to cross one of your boundaries.
The Consequences Of Zero Boundaries
Without set boundaries, you are essentially allowing others to do what they will with you—because you have set no limit, value, or consequence to other’s actions by overstepping your designed and designated boundary line.
Those With Healthy Boundaries Can
A person with healthy boundaries will be able to receive respect from others for their boundaries and respect others. A healthy boundary makes it more digestible to accept rejection, or the word “no,” from others while also valuing one’s values and opinions.
Being able to understand and efficiently communicate one’s needs and wants is more accessible when promoting healthy boundaries and coping mechanisms. It can be super-efficient in “checking your emotional baggage at the door,” as it sets the standard of what to expect in a relationship in terms of communication and intimacy, among other things.
Seek Professional Guidance
This statement should always be said– ” seeking professional help does not make you weak.” It means that you’re striving to work through emotions, situations, or topics you need an outside perspective on, not just anyone. A therapist has gone through years of schooling to be able to professionally and safely counsel others. There’s a reason they have to go through schooling to be qualified enough to have their job. Psychology is a fascinating, reflective, and creative topic that handles the workings of the human (in this case) mind.
Schedule an appointment to receive support from a professional therapist to obtain guidance from anything, ranging from overwhelming regulations, mental health, trauma, etc. They are there to compassionately offer support for any concern you wish to address, including “emotional baggage.”
From setting healthy boundaries to giving up the toxic cycle of control and worrying about gaining trust in oneself again, after reading this article and applying it efficiently and consistently, take your emotional baggage with the trash on the next up-and-coming trash day!