How To Deal With 7 Types Of Emotional Baggage

Have you ever felt like you’re stuck in a situation that’s beyond your control? Do you feel like you’re repeating yourself? Do you ever find yourself in talks, relationships, or employment that aren’t quite what you expected, and you say to yourself, “Wait, haven’t I been here before?”

If you have, you may be dealing with emotional baggage that refuses to let go of its hold on you and your future. 
Here are seven different sorts of emotional baggage and how to get rid of them so they don’t hold you back in the future.

1. The Scared Child

The terrified child says things like, “I can’t do this.” They approach any chance or challenge with the assumption that they’ve already failed, based on historical data, and they don’t consider how to overcome this. 

A fearful youngster isn’t always scared, and this emotional baggage isn’t always visible. The fearful youngster frequently hides behind confidence and acts that conceal the true problem (s). The problem is that the terrified child still believes in antiquated notions of what is achievable. 

Think back to a period when you felt truly loved if you find you have a scared version of yourself inside. It didn’t matter what happened; all that mattered was that you remembered how that person helped you.

Assume you’re four years old and have a strong desire to learn to ride a bike. Some of us are fortunate enough to hop on, wobble a little, and fly away, never looking at riding a bike as a challenge again. Others, on the other hand, will wobble and fall over and over again.

How does the wobbler stand up and continue walking? With the right people, the proper words, and a lot of love.

As that voice tells you, “you can’t do this,” someone who loves you tells you, “you’ve got this.” They give you the confidence to say, “Come on, let’s try again,” even if you haven’t. Look for people who will care for, love, and support you.

A word of caution: don’t rely on the outside world to assist you in overcoming your fearful inner kid. It’s quite doubtful that no one washed and clothed you today, or that no one translated what you said to get you breakfast, or that no one brushed your teeth and hair for you.

Because you’ve already accomplished so much, you have plenty of proof that you are not the kid of your past. Look for that proof!

Related: Stress Management Techniques for a Stress-Free Life

2. The Overbearing Parent/Teacher

They tell you things like “You’ll never amount to anything” or “Why won’t you put in the effort?” (See below for the polar opposite, which can be just as dangerous to hold on to.)

Negative people who berate you can have a long-term effect on you. They may have had good intentions. They may have assumed that by speaking harshly and forcefully, they would motivate you, not realizing how they had broken you down and made you feel like a failure. However, you are the one who is giving those statements strength.

What do you think is true about your abilities that need to be tested? I’ve had people tell me that they’re bad at math, or that they’re not creative, or that they have a left-handed brain.

Even though personality tests have been demonstrated to be scientifically wrong, people still enjoy them because they help them prove why they are brilliant at certain areas and awful at others. People will continue to believe in pseudoscience if it supports their beliefs. [1]

You may have been a sloppy adolescent or a slacker intern in the past, but it does not define who you will become in the future. That is something you will be able to do.

People from your past who told you that you could do anything are on the other end of the spectrum. How many times have you gone through a harrowing recital of a piece of music only to see your parent proudly waving and clapping with a phone in hand, proclaiming, “In 20 years, my little Sam will be the best musician in the world!”

If you’re not receiving the outcomes you desire in life, it’s possible that you’re carrying baggage that claims you’re great at something but, in reality, you need to reframe that thinking in order to upskill and retrain. It requires courage to examine your beliefs and ask yourself, “Is this truly true?”

You need to know if you’re doing a good job, and getting the correct feedback might help or hinder your progress. “78 percent of Gen Xers say performance reviews are formalities that do not give positive possibilities for improvement,” according to research.

So, make sure you’re looking for quality feedback rather than feedback that simply confirms what you already believe. [2]

Related: How to Cope with Pandemic Depression and Stay Healthy

3. The Long-Gone Bully

Many people have been bullied at school or at work, and it can be difficult not to carry that emotional baggage with them. It’s less about what they say to you and more about what you wish you’d said to them with the long-gone bully.

Unfortunately, between 2007 and 2019, the number of people who were cyberbullied increased by 37%, and with anxiety, despair, and mental health difficulties on the rise all around the world, the bully isn’t something we can just grow out of.[3]

It may not be in your distant past if you carry baggage from things you wish you’d said. It could be something banal or insensitive that someone recently said to you that you wish you had.

This is something I see a lot in workplace coaching. People hang on to old, outdated frustrations from times when someone has disappointed them and they wish they could tell them how they really feel.

The important point is that past bullies can have an impact on your future relationships and outcomes, especially if you assume that the person speaking to you today is speaking to you in the same way, with the same meaning, and want the same result as the bully from five, ten, or twenty years ago.

It may not be in your distant past if you carry baggage from things you wish you’d said. It could be something banal or insensitive that someone recently said to you that you wish you had.

Check to see whether you’re adding your own tone or meaning to words, conversations, emails, or situations before you say anything.

These are what I refer to as “hot buttons.” Words that have significance for you but may have no meaning for the individual with whom you are conversing.

It’s sometimes enough to scribble down your sentiments and what you want to say, then burn or delete it (so it doesn’t get sent on a bad day!).

Is this individual truly trying to bully you? Or are you interjecting an out-of-date interpretation into the discussion?

I dealt with a group of people that had secret squabbles that some referred to as bullying. When we broached the topic in a safe, non-judgmental setting,

The fact that there was no bullying was a pleasant surprise! The problem was that one individual saw another’s actions differently and had preconceived notions about what this signified. It had an effect on a group of 240 people! 

Having uncomfortable talks can be frightening, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. If you’re having trouble, try learning how to have uncomfortable talks and get the results you want.

Remember that just because you obtain what you want doesn’t imply the other party won’t get what they want as well. 

4. The Inner Hater

The inner hater has no bounds in terms of what it can do to you. They’ve been in your thoughts, behaviors, and outcomes for so long that they’ve become a part of you. Look for the hater if you find yourself judging yourself severely in comparison to others.

They’ll be able to recall every time you made a mistake, didn’t act quickly enough, disappointed someone, or failed.

Every human being fails, makes mistakes, gets things wrong, and disappoints someone. It’s crucial to realize that this doesn’t have to be the end of your story. If you’re having trouble hearing praises or recognizing that you’re doing a great job, see if your inner hater is silent.

The simplest approach to do this is to use the book’s “Why I’m Awesome” strategy and compose a long list (two sides) of reasons why you are awesome.

Although it may appear indulgent and meaningless, we frequently discover that emotional baggage is hung on to when facts are ignored in favor of accepted beliefs.

So, if you want to get rid of your emotional baggage and achieve your goals in life, make a list. And make sure you display it somewhere so you’re reminded of how amazing you are. 

Related: Foods To Eat And Avoid In A Depression Diet

5. The Angry Monster

Anger can be a piece of emotional baggage that is hard to get rid of. Anger can come from:

  • what people did
  • what you did
  • what you didn’t do
  • what they didn’t do
  • what the world looks like
  • even for your inability to queue without getting so mad that it ruins your day

Look for the sources of your rage in your life. It might not show up as rage. Past anger may not make you flush and look like steam is flowing out of your nose, but it can still harm you. It takes a lot of effort and energy to hold on to hatred.

It doesn’t have to be something that makes you angry. A client despised administration, and it had destroyed their week. It was a dreaded requirement. They were one of those people who disliked being confined to a desk.

They despised education and the constraints that came with early adulthood, but they adored the career they had built. It respected who people are, their vitality, and their zest for life—admin, on the other hand, went against all of that.

It was difficult to hold on to my rage. They would put off answering emails, making phone calls, and paying bills until remorse crept upon them. Aiding them in seeing the harm they were causing helped them to change. 

Anger might prevent you from coping with your past and moving on in a more positive direction. Allowing the past to intrude into our current life can be harmful. This fast action may be enough to jolt you into thinking, reacting, and acting in a more positive manner. [4

Related: Ways to Motivate Your Child to Learn And Grow Positively

6. The Unloved

Every single person has been dumped. Are you holding on to beliefs about who people think you are if you feel that you’re not good enough or can’t get forward in life? What do other people think of you? The sense of not being good enough and unloved can affect every aspect of your life, including your ability to find love.

I guided someone through the process of locating a spouse, which they completed in six months. They realized they were clinging to archaic notions of what was possible and what people would think of them.

The worry of what others will think of us is one of the most common anxieties I observe affecting happiness and success. You can avoid this by doing the following:

Keep in mind that whatever is going on in your thinking is private to you. Without your approval, no one may own it or be involved with it. Begin here and then take a look around to see how this emerges in your life. 

We noticed that my client’s wardrobe didn’t even have a place for another person’s coat and shoes, let alone their stuff. They were able to shift to being open to a new and better way of going forward by becoming conscious of how they were living, which removed the feeling of being unwanted.

7. The Unlucky

The unfortunate will be able to tell you about how they’ve never been promoted, won a competition, or been chosen first. Okay, so you may have been chosen last during basketball practice in your teens, but that doesn’t imply you’ll have that kind of luck for the rest of your life.

Keeping obsolete assumptions about your luck in mind, you become a victim of your own life. And there’s nothing you can do if you’re the one who’s been victimized.

This isn’t purely a matter of chance. If you work in the public sector or fall into any of the common media stories (long-term illness, stress, overworked, parent, teen, etc. ), you will almost certainly be swamped with complaints about how badly compensated you are.

When I work with folks in these groups, I often find that they have negative baggage that prevents them from discovering better ways to work that minimize stress and allow them to work fewer hours.

So, if you want to keep your baggage, what are you willing to accept? You may feel as if you are constantly being put upon as a parent or a teen; yet, if you were to flip that, could you see that you are also trusted and depended upon? Are you aware that you are adored and valued?

Look for the feelings you have as a result of any of these—do you feel guilty? Frustrated? Regretful? Unappreciated?

Final Thoughts

Learn more about what’s affecting you and begin asking yourself these questions:

What changes in my life, ideas, and happiness do I want to see?

Change requires a positive focus, which is much easier to attain when you understand what your emotional baggage is doing to you.

“The less he understands something, the more strongly he believes in it,” Wilhelm Reich famously observed. Let me know how you deal with emotional baggage and the influence it has on your life. 


  1. Britannica: Are There Really Right-Brained and Left-Brained People?

2. LinkedIn: Data is Power. In HR too.


4. Mandie Holgate: Hanging on to Sh*t

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