Nearly everyone has some sort of emotional baggage. By emotional baggage, I mean any sort of unresolved issue of an emotional nature. It can be felt in many ways: emotional pain, fear, guilt, regret, inner criticism, anger and PTSD.
Emotional baggage usually stems from a traumatic event or microaggressions that have emotionally effected you over time.
Stop trying to ‘let go’ of your emotional baggage
Unfortunately, too many people judge the emotions that they experience as wrong, and eventually become their own worst critic. They think that they must ‘let go’ of their emotional baggage, but this desire to get rid of it is essentially rejecting the parts of yourself that actually need to be accepted.
By thinking that you must discard of your emotional baggage, you are labelling it as separate from yourself. You are subconsciously telling yourself that you are not whole, and that you cannot be loved as you are.
“Pain is not wrong. Reacting to pain as wrong initiates the trance of unworthiness. The moment we believe something is wrong, our world shrinks and we lose ourselves in the effort to combat the pain.”
― Tara Brach, Radical Acceptance: Embracing your life with the heart of a Buddha
In order to truly let go of your emotional baggage, you must do the opposite – by practising radical self-acceptance.
How to practise radical self acceptance
If you are ready and if it is safe for you to do so, sit down in a quiet corner with yourself.
Before you begin this exercise you may also want to confide in a friend or a therapist about your intentions so you have a support system in place. You don’t have to tackle your journey of self-acceptance alone.
Once you are comfortable, pay attention to your breath and do a body scan. Bring your attention to each part of your body, from your feet to your head. See if you can notice where any tension in your body is.
Invite your emotional baggage into your awareness: “I hear you. I am listening. You are safe to be felt.”
You can say this out loud, or keep it as a thought.
Take your time with this. You may or may not be able to feel your emotional baggage physically in your body. It may manifest itself as a heaviness, a tension or even as a physical pain.
If you can feel it, stay present with this feeling. If you cannot, this is okay, it doesn’t always manifest physically. Your intentions alone are powerful enough to make this exercise effective.
Next, you can practise the mantra ho’oponopono – “I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. I thank you.”
You can repeat this mantra again and again with any thought or emotion that surfaces. This mantra will bring loving acceptance towards your emotions.
Going deeper: a multi-dimensional viewpoint
Whilst you are doing this, it is helpful to remember your emotional baggage has served you in many ways beyond your understanding.
- Know that the major situations that have happened in your life have been part of a soul contract you made before you were born in order to help you learn lessons and grow spiritually in this lifetime.
- Similarly, if you have been hurt by a person or by several people, they were subconsciously playing a role that you both decided on before your lifetime.
- You don’t need to understand it now, but knowing that one day you will understand makes it easier to accept.
- Once you see that on a spiritual level you have consented to the painful events of your life, you can let go of the victim mindset and consciously choose to accept your past, forgive those that have hurt you and grow from these experiences.
Love the one that survived the pain
Visualise white light pouring down from the source, through your crown and into your body, wrapping you up in white, healing light – not trying to make your emotional baggage disappear, but simply offering yourself support and unconditional love.
Understand that you are not a product of your emotional baggage. Your emotional baggage is just something that you have experienced as a reaction to emotional pain. You don’t need to let go of it, you need to love the one that survived that pain.
If you want to, you can affirm to yourself “I am whole. All of me deserves to be loved, especially the pain that I have judged as wrong. I am whole.”
Have no expectations as to what you should be experiencing whilst doing this exercise. Practise being here, now.
Keep practising, it takes time
Keep coming back to this exercise. Self-acceptance isn’t something you can practise once and suddenly be free from your emotional baggage. It is like a muscle that you have to slowly and steadily strengthen over time.
During this time, it is important to know that situations may still appear in your life that will trigger you emotionally and continue to bring up feelings of unworthiness.
It is important here to not judge the emotional reactions that come to the surface. Life is always working with you, not against you.
Once you begin a conscious journey of self-acceptance, life will show you everything you still need to accept. It is part of the process, and a way of going deeper into your healing. Use this as an opportunity to become conscious of your feelings and to repeat your practise of radical self-acceptance.
A caterpillar does not emerge out of its cocoon as soon as it is built. It spends time in the cocoon as it transforms and only emerges when it is ready.
Be patient with yourself. Practise accepting your emotional baggage and loving all of yourself as an opportunity to radically transform the way you think, feel and live.