When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need. – Tao Te Ching
Letting go. It’s a hot topic among therapists, clients, friends, and family. Often times whether it’s on a subconscious or conscious level, there are emotions that we need to let go of in order to move forward and achieve the happiness that we all deserve.
Emotional baggage is a term used to describe the negative emotions that are carried around with us on a daily basis. Negative emotions are often gathered through the years and stuffed into our “mental suitcase” that we carry.
You can always tell a difference between a person that has a heavy “suitcase” with them versus someone who’s suitcase is light. I can always tell in the eyes and the face. When your emotional baggage is heavy, there is no longer a light in your eyes. Perhaps you’ve struggled with an addiction or mental health condition and it has taken over.
When a person becomes so accustomed to carrying around excess negativity, it becomes who you are. Negative emotions have an interesting way of wearing a person down and eventually taking over if you are not careful. People begin to identify with the negative emotions of anger, sadness, and or anxiety and it becomes the very thing that you put out into the world.
I think back to a time when I was working at an inpatient acute stabilization hospital and a very angry woman came in. I’ll admit that her rage was so thick that even I had to check myself on my own fears of her. I can remember sitting with this woman, in an effort to just let her know that I was supportive and would not run away from her anger and consequently, feeling exhausted afterwards. Anger has a way of sucking the energy out of the room and out of the person who is experiencing it.
So there I sat. And listened with unconditional positive regard to the anger coming from this woman. She had had quite the injustices occur in her life—various events that were completely out of her control. Yet she had persevered and was still here today. I pointed this out just as we were ending our meeting for the day.
The next day, I noticed she seemed calmer. It was almost like the air had gone out of her sails and she was in a different place mentally. She began to talk and amazingly became tearful when she was able to recognize the strong impact of her anger on everyone around her. She made a statement that she had always been an angry person and recognized now that she used anger to keep people away despite feeling desperately lonely and unsupported. The aha! moment had occurred.
To let go is to release the images and emotions, the grudges and fears, the clingings and disappointments of the past that bind our spirit. – Jack Kornfield
When we hide behind our negative emotions, there is a reason for doing so. Whether it is keeping other people at arm’s length, trying to appear larger than life, or to elicit sympathy from others—there is always a reason why we behave the way that we do.
The power is when you recognize how and why you use negative emotions and decide to make steps to change.
Courage is the power to let go of the familiar. – Raymond Lindquist
Letting go can be scary. However, in order for changes to occur, there has to be a shift in identity and the way that you may be currently living your life. Take inventory of how you interact with others and how you feel about yourself.
If you could describe who you are with 5 words, what would they be?
What do you need to change about yourself in order to be happy and fulfilled?
You’ve got to make a conscious choice every day to shed the old – whatever “the old” means for you. – Sarah Ban Breathnach
Use affirmations to get on track with who you are and what emotions you want to put out to the world. Choose happiness because you are deserving of it. Everyone makes mistakes at one point or another but this does not mean that you have to internalize those negative emotions and allow them to take control.
Live, learn, and move forward. The only person you can control is yourself. Try letting go of that excess emotional baggage that may be weighing you down. I give you permission 😉
Wishing you happiness and a “light suitcase” today and everyday,