When you focus on the past, you are having emotional baggage. Everyone has stuff come up about their past. But it’s when you focus on it and let it fester that it can cause problems in your present life.
Bad past experiences can hold you back
It can also hold you back from enjoying your future life. Emotional baggage can stem from events that happened to you – such as from being in an abusive relationship, from physical or emotional traumas such as a car wreck, or from carrying a burden you shouldn’t be carrying – like guilt.
When you hold onto the burdens of your past, it affects how you live your life now. It’ll also affects how you’ll live in the future. It can become your identity because you get stuck in a certain pattern that a past event has created.
Whatever it is that you’ve experienced then, colors how you behave with others, how you handle your day-to-day life, how you process thoughts and what your beliefs are today.
They hurt you emotionally
People carry the burden of the past because they’ve never healed the emotional blow that stemmed from the situation.
The hurt they felt back then is still there just under the surface. It might be something that’s steeped in anger or anxiety. Or it could be that you’re stuck in feelings of grief or sadness.
When you’re carrying a burden like this, it you may feel like you never left that time in your life. Your emotions will feel as raw now when you think about it as they did back then.
They hurt you physically
Not only can it weigh on your emotions when you focus on the past, but it can also hurt you physically. You can develop things like insomnia, chronic stress, stomachaches, elevated blood pressure and more.
In order to leave the past where it belongs, you have to heal. That means you must unload that baggage so you can move on. You should keep in mind that you can’t heal from what you don’t name.
Identify the things about the past that’s bothering you
So when it comes to the past, you look at it and uncover the pain that’s keeping you tethered to that event, person or whatever it is. Write out the things that bother you now about the past and why they bother you.
Release the past
It can be helpful to take this list and speak out loud. Or write a letter, that you’ll eventually destroy, to the past situation or to the person who wounded you. As you read out the words, picture them releasing into the air, taking the connected emotion with it until it dissipates.
Do not assign blame
Accept whatever you went through without assigning blame to yourself or someone else. This is a step toward letting it go. It doesn’t mean that someone else isn’t to blame. It doesn’t mean that it didn’t bother you emotionally.
It simply means that you’re recognizing that the past has had enough of your life already. And you’re through with that. Once you identify what happened and what kind of emotional reaction it caused you, you find peace by loving yourself through it.
Be compassionate toward yourself. Forgive the pain of the past. Forgive your mistakes. Unpack the burden of your past by practicing self-help techniques if needed to help heal from past triggers.