I am sitting with a long time friend and what should be a lighthearted trip down memory lane turns out to be incredibly painful bridge to a dark and haunting place. Forgiveness is word expressed, but not felt. Healed wounds are the masks for the raw and aching truth. The next day, everything is as it was before. Smiles and laughter, but beneath it is all of that emotional baggage – still left unpacked.
Painful memories appear and seem to flee in the same shadowy way. They sneak into conversations that they don’t belong. They hide and await another opportunity to manifest into our lives. When they do show up in our lives, many of us simply put them away and then let them go, as though they never appeared in the first place. I think we have all been in that position at some point in our life. If you haven’t been there, count your blessings. And if you relate to this, then count your blessings too. This may sound like an odd comment, but hang on, I will explain.
I don’t think I know of a person on this entire planet who hasn’t felt pain. It seems fair to say that just as love, hurt is a universal human experience. The all too typical response is passive – let time resolve it. We wrongly assume that at some point it will just go away, but the problem is that it doesn’t. If you have been betrayed, it will change the way you trust. If you have done something wrong, guilt will follow. If you have been wronged, the way you allow people in your life will be different. If love has stung you, the way you approach love will change. Our past and all of the emotions attached to our experiences, linger until we deal with them. But how? We are not taught in schools, and most parents don’t show us how to deal with our shit (perhaps because they too don’t know how to). Instead, we are left to our own devices and likely deal with challenges by simply carrying on with life, or bitching to our friends about it. I promise that if you passively deal with bad experiences, your emotional baggage will continue to be left unpacked as you move forward. Not only that, it will negatively impact the way you experience life.
I am going to propose an alternative. It most certainly is not the only way, but it is the only method that has worked for me.
In the simplest terms – Find the lesson and find a way to be grateful for that experience.
How to Deal with Emotional Baggage:
None of us are a clean slate, but we can clean our slate. Try and make a list of everything that you can think of that bothers you about your past. Ask yourself, who do you have a grudge with? What memories evoke pain? What part of your past brings you to tears? Has love hurt you? What is unresolved about your childhood? After you have made the list, write a description of the experience. Allow all of the pain to flow through you as you write. Then write what the experience has taught you. How are you a better person for having lived that? Do this for each experience and notice the shift.
***If this process feels too daunting, stay tuned because I will be releasing an emotional detox program with support from me this month.
How to Actively Deal with Bad Experiences:
After you have cleared the emotional clutter, try and approach each new challenge in the same way. You may not have to actually go through the process of writing, but mentally ask yourself what you can learn from the experience. When we learn, we evolve and even our most challenging experience can make sense in a positive way.
Rob and I underwent this process years ago. Is life perfect? No, of course not. But we choose to learn and continually grow into our best selves. We have let go of our baggage and definitely feel happier for the process.
This week I challenge you to take the time to unpack. Trust me, your life will feel lighter for it!