“Emotional baggage” is a term used to describe unresolved, lingering emotional issues or experiences from the past that continue to affect a person’s present thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Unpacking and processing baggage alone is a lot to ask of yourself! Luckily, help is here. Talking to a therapist can help you think about how you handle affection, conflict, money, vulnerability, and so much more. If you’re in a relationship, couples counseling is a safe space to establish healthier patterns and unpack your baggage with a neutral mediator present. Let’s talk more about exactly what emotional baggage is, where it comes from, and what happens if you don’t deal with it.
What is Emotional Baggage?
As we explained in more detail in this blog, emotional baggage has a lot of names. You might call it past traumas, secrets, the things you feel ashamed of, or pain you’re carrying over from past relationships. Your baggage can come from childhood experiences, romantic relationships, or any trauma you have experienced. Our baggage weighs us down and may even prevent us from having healthy relationships; you may be afraid to have secure attachments or become too co-dependent.
Emotional baggage,” as described above, is a term used to describe unresolved, lingering emotional issues or experiences from the past that continue to affect a person’s present thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This emotional baggage can manifest in various ways, such as trust issues, fears, insecurities, or difficulties in forming or maintaining relationships. Carrying this emotional baggage can significantly impact a person’s mental and emotional well-being, affecting their ability to navigate present situations and relationships. It often requires recognition, understanding, and sometimes professional support or self-reflection to work through and move past these lingering emotional burdens.
Baggage impacts the way you think or interact with others. And it’s important to remember that trauma can stem from lots of places – not just the most obvious ones. Baggage includes obvious violations like abuse or physical injury, but you could also have some emotional trauma from things like losing a job, going through a breakup, or even losing a group of friends. Regardless of where it came from, trauma will show up in both obvious or subtle ways. You bet your bottom dollar that it’ll crop up in the future if you have not processed it (and it can even show up if you have!).
What Damage Does Emotional Baggage Do?
There are a lot of ways that trauma creeps into our lives. And while you can sometimes provide yourself with the comfort and validation you need to get through it, unpacked baggage can also affect your life in the following ways (which is why counseling is so important!):
- You May Experience Unexpected Triggers
You might experience sudden fear, anger, or other emotions “out of nowhere.” In reality, these are probably triggered by a past event in your life. For instance, if your parent left your life at an early age, you may be triggered into feelings of abandonment when your partner threatens to break up with you. Without unpacking your baggage and learning new and healthy ways forward, triggers are almost unavoidable.
- Relationships Can Be Affected
You don’t exist in a bubble, so your unprocessed trauma will affect your loved ones. If you’re in a relationship, you may have issues with healthy attachment, trust, how to fight fair, and other major behaviors that will change the dynamic of your relationship. Couples counseling in San Diego will help you and your partner process each of your baggage together so you can develop a secure attachment and start communicating and trusting.
- Unhealthy Patterns Will Emerge
Imagine if you had a broken ankle. You would start to limp and favor one leg as a coping mechanism. Once your leg heals, it no longer serves you to limp – but what if you kept doing it just out of habit? When you go through a trauma, your brain may fall back on old survival habits. While these no longer serve you and your needs, you continue to utilize them out of habit. It takes unpacking your baggage in therapy to learn new coping mechanisms that are healthier and safer for your life now. You may not even realize how many unhealthy patterns you have until you really start to process past pain.
How Can Counseling Help with Emotional Baggage?
Counseling helps unpack baggage for a few reasons. First, a therapist is a neutral party who can help you identify patterns without any judgement. If you’re going to couples counseling, your therapist is there to keep communication effective and compassionate. Second, therapy can help you change patterns over time. It’s not a quick fix, it’s a long-term strategy for unpacking your trauma and changing your behavior. Third, emotional baggage can make it hard to make smart and healthy lifestyle choices. This includes everything from eating and exercising to stopping smoking. Therapy helps you work through all of that at a pace that works for you.
What are you carrying around? If your trauma is weighing you down, therapy can help. Both individual and couples counseling are a no-shame way to deal with your trauma in an understanding environment. Counseling helps you deconstruct old habits and develop better patterns for the future. At Estes Therapy, we help our clients tackle all sort of trauma. Our therapy services are currently being offered online in order to keep everyone safe and healthy. This means you can attend your therapy session from the comfort of your own home! Give us a call today to see if we can be of service!