Ways to get rid of the emotional baggage

Maybe you carry your baggage in your home.

Maybe it’s built up in the back of your closet clothes you’re waiting to wear, clutter you haven’t had the heart to discard, worn shoes, outdated bags all needing to go, yet hidden from sight.

Maybe your baggage is woven throughout your social media feeds the old lovers you don’t need to keep up with but haven’t had the guts to unfollow, the industry bullies you keep tabs on so you’re not the brunt of a joke, the news sources that don’t so much information you as make you feel incrementally more hopeless.

Maybe it’s what’s still in your head and heart the thoughts you had about the person you used to be, the screeching reminders of your past misdeeds, the belief that you will never be defined by more than your mistakes.

No matter where it exists, you probably know if you have emotional baggage. You know because you are easily triggered. You know because the same series of thoughts crop up just a little too often. You know because you sense it: Something from the past is holding you back.

In life, we are taught to hold on. We are taught that perseverance is the ultimate feat of character and will. We are taught to never, under any circumstances, fold on our dreams, our ambitions, our hopes for our lives.

While this sentiment is undoubtedly helpful, it’s also not the full picture. Sometimes, letting go is the bravest, and most important, the thing you can do.

You will be called to regularly let go throughout the course of your life. You will have to let go of your past identities, the ones that have been molded by your surroundings, your environment, all the pieces of who you became that are not pieces of who you really are.

You will have to let go of your old belongings, the ones that were owned by those old identities, that defined them, expressed them and created them.

You will have to let go of old relationships, people who understood and connected with the person you used to be.

The releasing and regrowth process is inevitable. We can try to continue holding on, but eventually, we have to learn to release.

We become most lost and most uncomfortable when we try to piece together old parts of who we no longer are when we wake up in the morning and are greeted by relics of our past.

The truth is that emotional baggage is in our bodies, but it’s also scattered throughout our lives. And though we cannot always force a feeling out of us, we can begin to release through changing our surroundings.

We can thank and let go of old clothes, old memories, old belongings. We can start to craft a new life around the person we want to be, slowly letting go of the person we were. Then, one day, we’ll find that the emotions we thought were tethering us have started to neutralize. Not because we forced them away, but because we’ve become so invested in rebuilding and creating the new life that we simply don’t hold space for them anymore.

Letting go is not what we throw into the fires of our regret, it’s what we slowly crowd out each time we choose a new and better future. We don’t let go of love when someone leaves; we let go when we learn to love again. We don’t let go of our past identities when we start disliking them; we let go when we wake up and find ourselves surrounded by a new environment, one that matches the person we are becoming.

We don’t let go of our fears once we realize we have them; we let go when we act in spite of them when we show up knees shaking, and unsure but willing to try anyway.

Letting go is a part of the process of being human. We know what to do, we just need to find the courage to do it.

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