What Is Emotional Baggage: No, I’m Not On My Period!
Can you even begin to count how many times a man has reduced your fully rational emotions to you being on your period? Men, and sometimes even women, have this tendency of making you feel as if you’re not entitled to your emotions, or that any deviations from being ‘ok’ is close to criminal. How then can we significantly improve our emotional and mental health when we are constantly being denied our human right to expression? How can we begin to dissect and root out our toxic thought patterns, if at every turn our emotions are being invalidated?
These things may seem small and insignificant, maybe even funny at first, until you hear it so often that subconsciously you start to reduce your emotions to the ebb and flow of your monthly cycle. This mentality by extension doesn’t allow for you to be in tune with your completely normal, human emotions and the effects of this can be long lasting. Packing our emotions into bags because some guy accused us of being “too emotional” can have long lasting effects on our thought patterns and impact how we process our emotions. We may end up packing our bags so much to the point where we get numb to the pain. Don’t let society’s incapability of checking their baggage, cause yours to be overweight.
Two Unchecked Bags (Of Emotional Baggage)
In this era where everyone is promoting mental health and emotional wellness, while advocating heavily for self-care, you’d think that it would be easier to express yourself openly. You would also think that more platforms or accommodations would be made available to do just this. Instead of feeling as if you’re capable of reasonably expressing yourself, you’re scared white of your emotions and think them to be a burden on others. With this mentality being perpetuated along every stage of your life, being asked every time you get even the slightest bit emotional, whether you’re on your period might’ve led to having emotional baggage (backpack).
Emotional baggage essentially consists of all the unresolved emotions and confrontations that you have been carrying around with you. This backpack is filled by the habit of constantly packing your feelings and emotions into compartments, leaving them unresolved while making excuses and compromises for people who don’t help to unburden you. This habit then results in deficits in your ability to thoroughly express yourself. This emotional baggage follows us through each stage of our lives and may present themselves in different ways.
As we all might’ve experienced at one point or another, once we are emotionally exhausted we sometimes begin to experience physical symptoms. I, for one, get sick for at least two weeks whenever I become severely stressed or stop dealing with my emotions in a proactive way. Holding in emotions eventually causes stress on the body and presents itself in different forms, whether as headaches or intestinal problems.
Two Checked Bags (Of Emotional Baggage)
Your emotional health is dependent on you. Just as how you carefully select the items you carry in your physical bag, that is how you should manage the emotions you carry around with you. Contrary to what certain mediums in our global society may portray, having an emotional deficit isn’t cool and it’s definitely not healthy. However, I do understand that dealing with your emotions is easier said than done, especially when you’re used to compartmentalizing all your life.
My therapist once said to me “eventually that [bag] that you tuck everything into will one day get full and explode, and what then will you do?” Though it might offer you temporary relief, what’re you going to do when that bag fills and your emotions are spilling everywhere? Finding a way to thoroughly express yourself isn’t something that is easily achieved, much less finding someone who you can trust to unload your baggage to. Personally, I believe that the trick to engaging in healthy expressions of emotions starts with you being comfortable with whatever emotions you are feeling.
Whatever it is that you’re experiencing, you need to understand the triggers of these emotions. Knowing where they’re coming from allows you to distance yourself, whether physically or mentally, from the environment, eventually leading to an improved relationship with emotional expression. However, there might be times when you are the cause of your own emotional turmoil and there really is no getting away from yourself. In these particular instances what needs to be done is great introspection. Allowing yourself to backtrack through the string of emotions to identify the root of the matter, may play a significant role in unpacking the baggage.
Just as when you’ve arrived home after a long trip and must unpack your bags, separating your items into dirty and clean piles, you must also unload your emotional baggage with a similar approach. Your separation of events into dirty and clean helps you to keep track of those emotions that facilitate growth (i.e. clean), and those that are a burden (i.e. dirty). After years of carrying around our baggage, we’ve loaded it with our experiences of both major and minor events. We become so accustomed to the load that we don’t realize just how heavy it is until we’ve set it down. However, don’t be one of those persons who put their traveling bags into a corner and wait months to unload. Check your mental baggage. Unload and restock with clean and healthy essentials as necessary.
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