How to Ditch Emotional Baggage Once and For All

If you know, or suspect, that emotional baggage is weighing you down and keeping you from living fully, but somehow that suitcase full of nasty stuff keeps surfacing in your life, let’s look at some guidelines about how to release it.

Now ask yourself, where did this big old bag of junk come from?

This is not an easy question to answer. We tend to avoid looking at the source of our pain—experiences, beliefs, attitudes, and fears that keep us hurting. But it is important to do so. Trust me and let’s continue.

Confronting the source is where change begins. Altering your beliefs is how change continues. So take some time (and this could be ten minutes now, or the next four weeks, or an hour after work in the bubble bath) to look at past relationships.

• What did they have in common?

• Did you repeat certain patterns, and wonder why?

• Do you tend to choose the same kind of partner over and over, despite your determination to “never again?”


Joe, at 42, had been in three serious relationships, one of them a marriage that lasted 12 years. After the first hurtful partnership, he swore he would never make the same mistakes again. He’d find someone who would never put him down. He would stick up for himself. Yet each of his successive partners was emotionally abusive and he spent all his energies trying to appease her, rather than stick up for himself. When he came to me, we worked on figuring out what his core beliefs were. Joe bravely came to realize that he did not value himself. He had a rough childhood during which battling parents had no time for him except to tell him he was in their way. He always felt “in the way” and never learned how to possess his own space with confidence. He realized—and it was a shock to him—that he did not believe he was worth loving.


Bam. He figured out the source of all those subsequent years of baggage. More importantly, he understood what meaning he attached to those experiences. He believed that they confirmed his negative view of himself. The relationships convinced him he wasn’t worthy. He really believed it.

Ask yourself, what meaning have you given to your experiences? To the stuff, you have in that icky suitcase? Is it true?

If what you believe is not actually true (and I bet a million homemade oatmeal cookies it isn’t) get a pen and paper and LITERALLY rewrite it into something that is true, and that is much better for you (like replacing liver and onions with oatmeal cookies). Joe wrote down these words: “I am worthy. I am loveable.” By reframing his beliefs—which included saying those words to himself every day, many times a day—Joe was changing his beliefs.

Here are some more ideas about how to reframe your beliefs so that your emotions and thoughts change to create different actions. Your actions, of course, are what affect outcomes.

Focus on the good. Reflect on past relationships with an eye to seeing the good. There is something good to be found. What is it? What were your strengths within that partnership? For Joe, he realized he was loving, kind, and supportive as a partner. What did you contribute to your former relationships? Let that stuff inform your belief system, instead of all the bad memories.

Check your self-talk. We all have an inner gremlin who loves nothing more than to label us, criticize us, and put us down. Shut that guy up—the one who says “I’m an idiot” “God I’m ugly today” or “I’ll die alone.” Instead, find the inner truth, and if you can’t find one, create one. This truth reminds you every day, every minute even, that there is hope, you are worthy, and life is good. Forgive. Yourself and those who have wronged you. If that is hard to do with your heart, going through the motions can help regardless. Try this: write a letter to that person saying the words, “I FORGIVE YOU” even if you don’t feel it all the way yet. Seal it. Burn it.

Journal. Write down all the negative stuff—that baggage-inducing anger and hurt. Feel it, let it pass through you, and release it.

Meditate. If at first, you cannot quiet your mind, just fake it till you make it. Giving yourself permission to be still, to nurture your inner quiet, is half the battle.

Affirm. State what you want to believe, even before you believe it. As with Joe, who repeated to himself every hour—I am worthy—this is how you create new neural pathways in your brain (literally—this is science) so that what you want to be true, becomes true.

Explore self-hypnosis. Working with a licensed hypnotist you learn to use the techniques on yourself with the result that you retrain your subconscious mind, much the same way affirmations work. This strategy can go even deeper for those with more stubborn limiting beliefs. By freeing yourself from hurtful patterns you can replace them with beliefs that affirm.

Pray. This means different things to different people. Speaking to your higher source (God, the universe, divine source) is also very affirming because it keeps you focused on what you want, not on what you fear.

Ho’opnonpono. Or explore other spiritual practices that help release baggage. This one– Ho’opnonpono– is an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness. It involves the repetition of a mantra/prayer: “I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, and thank you.” Release….

Seek coaching. A relationship or life coach can guide you through this releasing process in a safe, supported environment.

It works. We can let go of old, useless, heavy, icky baggage that serves us not one bit. Seeing clearly what is hidden away inside that baggage is the first, biggest step. After that, practice one, some, or all of the above suggestions, now and then, every day, however, and whenever you can, until you feel that lightness and realize, it’s gone. Then, love and prosper, my friend.