Emotional baggage affects relationships

03 Dec, 2022 - 00:12 0 Views
Emotional baggage affects relationships

The Herald

Laina Makuzha Love by Design

Are you carrying baggage, weighing down your relationship?

It’s holiday season, and a time for families, friends even strangers to get together, share kindness and just spread some love. Yet for some, with all that love going round- it’s also a season where loneliness rears its ugly head to attack the vulnerable. There are those who will huddle in some corner of life, shut everyone out and wallow in resentment, unforgiveness, hate or malice –  thereby allowing the past to snuff out their chance at happiness, then there are those who choose to let bygones be bygones and move on with life, embrace new opportunities – even daring to love as though they’ve never been hurt and socialising in spite of any challenges.

We’ve heard it often said in relationships, that hurt people hurt people. I’d go so far as saying hurting people can develop deep resentment for love, and self sabotage, not necessarily by design. Which is why knowing what’s ‘eating’ you and dealing with it may just take you a step closer to healthier happier relationships with the people you love.

“Some people are just difficult to love . . . ”, how many times have you heard this? I know I have.

But what is it that makes someone easy or difficult to love? 

While there are many factors that can make one lovable or unlovable, emotional baggage is right there amongst the most prevalent factors. What is emotional baggage and how can you avoid letting it steal your joy?  Experts best define emotional baggage as “a collective term for any unresolved emotional turmoil caused by childhood trauma, abuse, or any negative experience from the past.”

Emotional baggage can manifest in different forms in different people. It can come as bitterness, indifference to love, avoiding romantic relationships, jealousy or resentment  towards those in love and more.

I have heard some single folks talking about being ‘nauseated’ by those in love, and some that resent these beautiful holidays and any tribute or celebration of love including weddings. Don’t get me wrong- if you were hurt in your past or hurting right now over something, it is not something anyone can tell you how to deal with, nor can anyone know exactly what you are going through or how deeply you’re hurting. But one thing I know for sure is one can allow themselves to learn how to let go of the past in order to someday open one’s heart to love. It is possible. Carrying emotional baggage in a negative sense only weighs down on the one carrying it. Sure, we all have some sort of past hurts, disappointment and unpleasant experiences even traumas, loss and such. But there is a kind of holding on to emotional baggage that gets in the way of new pleasant experiences in life and especially in opening one’s heart to love.

Poet and writer Genefe Navilon puts it this way: 

“We all carry emotional baggage. Of course, this can manifest differently for each of us. Some of us carry 5 suitcases of pain and bitterness while some of us just have one tiny bag.”

In her view, emotional baggage is not necessarily a “bad thing” as sometimes it can help us make better choices in life from the lessons learnt. 

“Being alive means having the capacity to carry past experiences and learning from them, which is a healthy and necessary behavioural pattern. But there’s a point when this baggage becomes too much, that it can have a devastating impact on our relationships. 

One of them is the inability to become emotionally available. Carrying too much emotional baggage can literally stop us from being open to new experiences, intimacy, and growth.”

If there’s baggage stopping you from enjoying your relationship, or your marriage or just family in general, it is important to recognise what the baggage is and consciously making the effort to let it go, especially if you can see for yourself that you are hurting yourself more by carrying it, or hurting your loved ones, possibly by shutting them out, or by never appreciating the love they give you. 

Emotional baggage can have that impact on relationships. Some people when hurting, become so resentful of love that they can’t see anything good done for them, and they may fail to appreciate any love that’s around them. And it can frustrate the other party in that relationship, the one giving the love.  It can cause endless unhealthy conflict and stressful arguments. Ýou can actually check yourself to see if you are not frustrating your partner due to holding on the emotional baggage.

“The issue we all have then, is that we don’t know how to unload this emotional backpack, and instead let it seep its way into every corner of our lives. Carrying a heavy emotional backpack has some clear negative consequences” says Navilon.

Study has also shown that having emotional baggage can stop individuals from creating a positive lifestyle change. According to the study, “behavioural change can be hard to perform as psychological distress from life baggage can influence the ability to change.”

Of all the things that affect our romantic relationships, I reckon emotional baggage leaves a huge dent. 

Think about it, nothing else brings out our worst demons in relationships or marriage than by being vulnerable in love. Some are unwittingly sabotaging their love life. Even some of the gender based violence has been centred around baggage that has not been dealt with

How we choose to handle the baggage makes a world of difference –  to let it define us or to let it go and move right ahead, embracing life, love and happiness, however we define it.

In my research and efforts to help myself and others create and sustain happier relationships, I have   gained much insight and always ready to share, including how to recognise or acknowledge, how to process, accept, and let go of emotional baggage stemming from various situations such as difficult business or work partnerships, failed long-term relationship, maybe strained friendships or even family dysfunction for those in need of it. I’d love to share a few of those, including how you can identify some of the traits that show you that you have it, and how you can free yourself from the shackles of emotional baggage. In the meantime, in the spirit of the season, find ways to show some kindness and spreading love within your neighbourhood, amongst friends, extended family or various virtual communities you are in. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” Colosians 3 V23-34

Let’s keep the conversation on better relationships going. Send your thoughts and insights to : Whatsapp +263719102572. Email: [email protected]

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