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Published on April 21, 2021

7 Types Of Emotional Baggage And How To Deal With Them

7 Types Of Emotional Baggage And How To Deal With Them

Have you ever had that feeling you’re trapped in circumstances out of your control? Like you’re repeating the past? Do you find yourself in conversations, relationships, and jobs that aren’t what you hoped, thinking, “hang on, haven’t I been here before?” If you have, then you could be suffering from some emotional baggage that won’t let go of its grip on you and your future.

Here are seven types of emotional baggage and what you can do to get rid of them so that they never hold you back again.

1. The Scared Child

The scared child tells you absolutes, like “I can’t do this”. They base every opportunity or obstacle on the theory that they’ve already failed because evidence from the past proves this, and they don’t think to override this.

A scared child is not always scared, nor does this emotional baggage showcase itself so obviously. A lot of the time, the scared child hides behind confidence and actions that mask the real issue(s). The challenge is that the scared child holds on to outdated beliefs about what is possible.

If you realize that you have a frightened version of yourself hanging out inside, think back to a time you felt truly loved. It didn’t matter what happened just that you remember how that person was there for you.

Imagine that you are four years old and really want to learn to ride a bike. Some of us are lucky enough to jump on, wobble a little, and fly off, never to look back at riding a bike as an obstacle. On the other hand, others will wobble and fall, and wobble and fall.

How does the wobbler get up and keep going? With love, the right people, and the right words.

As that voice says “you can’t do this,” along comes someone that loves you who says “you’ve got this.” Even if you haven’t, they give you the self-belief to say “come on, let’s try again.” Look for those that nurture, love, and support you.

A word of caution—don’t wait for the outside world to help you overcome your scared inner child. It’s highly unlikely that no one got you washed and dressed today, interpreted what you said to get you breakfast, or brushed your teeth and hair for you. You have plenty of evidence that says you are not the child of your past because you’ve already achieved so much. Look for that evidence!

2. The Overbearing Parent/Teacher

“You will never amount to anything” or “Why won’t you apply yourself” is what they tell you. (See below for the opposite that can be just as disastrous for you to hang on to.)

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Having negative people around that berate you can impact you for a long time. They may have meant well. They may have hoped their harsh powerful words would inspire you, not appreciating how they cut you down and made you feel like a failure. But that doesn’t give those words power—you are doing that.

What do you believe to be true about your capabilities that need to be challenged? I’ve heard clients tell me that they’re rubbish at maths or aren’t creative or have a left dominant brain and thus, it’s impossible for them to be good at certain tasks.

People still love personality tests that help them prove why they are good at things or bad at others, even though it’s been proven to be scientifically inaccurate. People will still hold on to pseudoscience unless it supports what they want to believe.[1]

You may have been a messy teenager or a lazy intern, but that doesn’t define who you are in the future. You get to do that.

The opposite end of this scale is the people from your past who told you that you can do anything. How many have sat through a shocking rendition of a piece of music only to see the parent proudly waving and cheering with a phone in hand saying, “in 20 years, my little Sam will be the best musician in the world!”?

If you aren’t getting the results you want in life, then it could be that you’re holding on to baggage that says you rock at something when clearly, you need a reframe on that thought to be able to upskill and retrain. It takes guts to look at what you believe and ask, “Is this really true?”

You need to know that you are doing a good job, so if you are or not, getting the right feedback can enable or inhibit growth. According to a study, “78% of Gen Xers believe performance reviews are formalities that do not offer constructive opportunities for growth.” So, be mindful that you are seeking out quality feedback and not feedback that just reinforces what you already believe.[2]

3. The Long-Gone Bully

Many have suffered at the hands of bullies at school and in their careers, and it can be hard to not let that emotional baggage stick around. With the long-gone bully, it’s less about what they say to you and more about what you wished you’d said to them.

Unfortunately, the number of people being cyberbullied rose by 37% between 2007 and 2019, and with growing anxiety, depression, and mental health issues on the rise around the world, the bully is not something that we get to easily outgrow.[3]

If you have baggage on the things you wish you’d said, it may not be in your distant past. It could be something trite or unkind that someone said only recently that you wish you had spoken up about.

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I often see this in workplace coaching. People hold on to old, outdated frustration where someone has let them down and they wished they told them what they really think. The important point is that past bullies can impact your future relationships and results, especially if you assume that the person before you today is speaking to you in the same way, with the same meaning, and wanting the same outcome as the bully from five, then, or 20 years ago.

Before you say anything, check that you’re not adding your own tonality or meaning to words, conversations, emails, or situations. I call these hot buttons. Words that hold meaning to you but may mean nothing special to the person you are talking to. Sometimes, it can be enough to write down your feelings and what you wanted to say, then burn it or delete it (so it doesn’t get accidentally sent on a bad day!).

Is this person really bullying you? Or are you adding an outdated interpretation to the conversation?

I worked with a team of people where there were hidden frictions that some described as bullying. When we bought the subject up in a safe, non-judgmental conversation, all parties were able to communicate how they felt and how it impacted them, their performance, and even their stress levels.

The surprise was that there was no bullying! The issue was that one person perceived another person’s actions differently and held on to old ideas on what this meant. It was impacting a team of 240 people!

It’s scary having difficult conversations, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. If you struggle, you can try to learn how to have difficult conversations and get the results you want. Remember that getting the outcome you need doesn’t mean the other party will not get an outcome they need too.

4. The Inner Hater

There are no limits to what the inner hater can do to you. They’ve been in your mind, actions, and results for so long that they probably feel like a part of you. If you find you judge yourself harshly compared to everyone else, look for the hater. They will be able to list every occasion that you made a mistake, didn’t act quick enough, let someone down, or failed.

Every human fails, makes mistakes, gets it wrongs and lets, someone down. It’s important to remember that this doesn’t need to define your future. If you find that you are poor at hearing compliments or accepting you are doing brilliantly, test whether your inner hater is silenced.

The quickest way to do this is to take the “Why I’m Awesome” strategy from the book, Taking Control of Your Mind: Life Hacks to Resilience, Confidence, and Success. Then, write a large list (two sides) on why you are awesome. It may seem indulgent and pointless, however, we often find that emotional baggage is held on to when the facts are dismissed for the accepted beliefs.

So, if you want to ditch the emotional baggage and get what you want in life, then write that list. And make sure you pin it up somewhere, so you are reminded of just how awesome you really are.

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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 anger in your life. It may not present as anger. You may not go red and look like steam is pouring out of your nose to have past anger damaging you. Holding on to hate is hard work and draining.

It doesn’t even have to be something that would warrant anger. A client had a real hatred of administration, it ruined their week. It was a hated necessity. They were one of life’s doers who hates to be tied to a desk. They hated school and the restrictions that came with early adulthood and loved the career that they had created. It honored who they are, their energy and passion for life—admin went against all of that.

Holding on to this anger was hard work. They would procrastinate on emails, put off phone calls, and delay paying bills until guilt reared its ugly head. Helping them see the damage it was doing helped them change.

Anger can stop you from dealing with your past and stop you from moving forward into a more positive state. Allowing the past to invade our daily lives can have damaging consequences. This quick action can be enough to jolt you into a more positive way of thinking, reacting, and acting.[4]

6. The Unloved

Everyone has been ditched. If you feel like you aren’t good enough or can’t get things in life, are you holding on to beliefs about who people think you are? What people think you are like? That feeling that you aren’t good enough and unloved can be detrimental to every part of your life, even preventing you from finding love.

I coached someone on finding a partner, which they achieved in six months. They discovered that they were holding on to outdated ideas on what was possible and what people would think of them.

Of all the fears I see impact happiness and success, the fear of what people will think of us can hang out in so many fears. You can stop this from happening by defining how you see the world.

Remember that what goes on in your head is personal to you. No one can own it or be involved in it without your permission. Start here and then, look around you to discover how this manifests in your life.

For my client, we discovered that they didn’t even have a room in the closet for another person’s coat and shoes, let alone their belongings. Becoming aware of the way they were living helped them adjust to being open to a new and better way of moving forward that would remove the feeling of being unloved.

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7. The Unlucky

The unlucky will be able to tell you how they’ve never achieved a promotion, never won a competition, or be chosen first. Okay, so during basketball practice in your teens, you may have been chosen last, but that doesn’t mean you are going to keep that level of luck for the rest of your life.

With that in mind, holding on to outdated beliefs on your luck makes you the victim of your life. And if you are the victim, there’s nothing you can do about it.

This doesn’t just work on luck. If you work in the public sector or fit any popular media story (having a long-term illness, stressed, overworked, parent, teen, etc.), then, you are likely to be bombarded about how poorly paid you are and how the government, public, and media don’t appreciate you.

When working with these demographics, I often find that this is detrimental baggage that stops people from finding better ways of working so that they reduce stress and enjoy work more, often working fewer hours.

So, if you want to hold onto that baggage, what will you be accepting? As a parent or teen, you can feel like you are constantly being put upon—if you were to flip that, could you see that you are also trusted and relied upon? That you are loved and valued?

For any of these, look for the feelings you get as a result—do you feel guilty? Frustrated? Regretful? Unappreciated?

Final Thoughts

Learn more about what’s impacting you and start asking yourself:

  • What do I want to feel from now on?
  • What changes do I want to see in my life, thoughts, and happiness?

Change needs something positive to work on, and that’s a lot easier to achieve when you know what your emotional baggage is doing to you. As Wilhelm Reich famously said, “The less he understands something, the more firmly he believes in it.” Let me know how you get rid of your emotional baggage and the impact it has.

More Tips on How to Deal With Emotional Baggage

Featured photo credit: Naomi August via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Britannica: Are There Really Right-Brained and Left-Brained People?
[2] LinkedIn: Data is Power. In HR too.
[3] DoSomething.org: 11 FACTS ABOUT CYBERBULLYING
[4] Mandie Holgate: Hanging on to Sh*t

More by this author

Mandie Holgate

International Coach, Best Selling Author & Speaker inspiring people around the world to success.

50 Words of Encouragement for Moving Forward 7 Types Of Emotional Baggage And How To Deal With Them How to Control the Uncontrollable In Life 6 Types of Fear of Success (And How to Overcome Them) Self Awareness Is Underrated: Why the Conscious Mind Leads to Happiness

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Published on May 25, 2021

How To Recognize the Most Common Types of Mental Illness

How To Recognize the Most Common Types of Mental Illness

Have you ever had chills, a stuffy nose, a sore throat, a cough, or perhaps even a fever? More than likely you must have experienced at least some of these symptoms at one time or another in your life. You knew that you were sick, perhaps with a common cold, maybe the flu, or possibly a viral infection of some sort.

Either way, no matter what the diagnosis might have been at the time, you didn’t feel well, and therefore, you probably took some form of action to help alleviate the symptoms so that you could feel better, perhaps some medicine, followed up with maybe a little chicken noodle soup, a glass of orange juice, and some bed rest. Nevertheless, when it comes to seeking treatment for symptoms of mental illness, there seems to be a big difference between the way that we look at healing the body and the mind.

First of all, there are some common stigmas associated with mental illness. People, in general, seem to have a hard time admitting that they are having a problem with their mental health.[1]

We all want our social media profiles to look amazing, filled with images of exotic vacations, fancy food, the latest fashion, and of course, plenty of smiling faces taken at just the right angle. There is an almost instinctive aversion to sharing our true feelings or emotionally opening up to others, especially when we are going through a difficult time in our lives. Perhaps it has something to do with the fear of being emotionally vulnerable, open, and completely honest about our true inner feelings—perhaps we just don’t want to be a burden.

Additionally, throughout history, many people with mental illness have been ostracized and subjugated as outcasts. As a result, some may choose to avoid seeking help as long as possible to elude being ridiculed by others or presumably looked down upon in some way. Furthermore, rather than scheduling an appointment to meet with a board-certified psychiatrist, many people find themselves self-medicating with mood-altering substances, such as drugs and alcohol to try and cope with their symptoms.[2]

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We all want to have a sound mind and body with the ability to function independently without having to depend on anyone—or, for that matter, anything else for help. Nevertheless, if you are experiencing symptoms of mental illness, you may just have to find the will and the way to reach out for help before the symptoms become unmanageable.

Lastly, although we may all have the ability to gain insight into any given situation, it’s almost impossible to maintain a completely objective point of view when it comes to identifying the depth and dimension of any of our own symptoms of mental illness given the fact that our perception of the problem may in fact be clouded by the very nature of the underlying illness itself. In other words, even though symptoms of mental illness may be present, you may be suffering from a disorder that actually impairs your ability to see them.

As a professional dual-diagnosis interventionist and a licensed psychotherapist with over two decades of experience working with people all over the world battling symptoms of mental illness and substance abuse—combined with my own personal insight into the subject, perhaps now more than ever—I am confident that you will appreciate learning how to recognize a variety of symptoms associated with some of the most common types of mental illness.

1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by persistent flashbacks and nightmares associated with previously experienced or witnessed life-threatening or traumatic events.[3] The symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with the ability to perform normal daily activities and fulfill personal responsibilities.

Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

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  • recurrent and unwanted memories of an event
  • flashbacks to the event in “real-time”
  • nightmares involving the trauma
  • a physical reaction to an event that triggers traumatic memories
  • avoiding conversation related to the traumatic event
  • active avoidance of people, places, and things that trigger thoughts of the event
  • a sense of hopelessness
  • memory loss related to traumatic events
  • detached relationships
  • lack of interest in normal daily activities
  • feeling constantly guarded
  • feeling as if in constant danger
  • poor concentration
  • irritability
  • being easily startled
  • insomnia
  • substance abuse
  • engaging in dangerous behaviors

2. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is an anxiety disorder characterized by persistent unwanted thoughts followed by urges to act on those thoughts repeatedly.[4] The symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with the ability to perform normal daily activities and fulfill personal responsibilities.

Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

  • anxiety when an item is not in order or its correct position
  • recurrent and frequent doubt if doors have been locked
  • recurrent and frequent doubt if electronic devices and appliances have been turned off
  • recurrent and frequent fear of contamination by disease or poison
  • avoidance of social engagements with fear of touching others.
  • hand-washing
  • counting
  • checking
  • repetition of statements
  • positioning of items in strict order

3. Major Depressive Disorder

Major Depressive Disorder is a mood disorder characterized by a persistent depressed mood that impairs the ability to function. The symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with the ability to perform normal daily activities and fulfill personal responsibilities.

Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

  • overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and sadness
  • lack of interest or pleasure in activities normally enjoyed
  • overwhelming feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • sleep disturbances such as both insomnia and oversleep
  • overwhelming feelings of restlessness and irritability
  • lack of concentration
  • lack of appetite as well as overeating
  • thoughts of suicide

4. Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder that may be characterized by uncontrollable mood swings ranging from severe depression to extreme mania. The symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with the ability to perform normal daily activities and fulfill personal responsibilities.

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Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

  • easily distracted
  • racing thoughts
  • exaggerated euphoric sense of self-confidence
  • easily agitated
  • hyperverbal
  • markedly increased level of activity
  • overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and sadness
  • lack of interest or pleasure in activities normally enjoyed
  • overwhelming feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • sleep disturbances such as both insomnia and oversleep
  • overwhelming feelings of restlessness and irritability
  • lack of concentration
  • lack of appetite as well as overeating
  • thoughts of suicide

5. Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a thought disorder characterized by a breakdown between beliefs, emotions, and behaviors caused by delusions and hallucinations.[5]  The symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with the ability to perform normal daily activities and fulfill personal responsibilities.

Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

  • delusions with false beliefs
  • hallucinations with a false sensory perception
  • disorganized thought with a meaningless unintelligible pattern of communication
  • disorganized behavior with catatonic appearance, bizarre posture, excessive agitation
  • flat affect
  • lack of eye contact
  • poor personal hygiene

6. Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat and excessive exercise. The symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with the ability to perform normal daily activities and fulfill personal responsibilities.

Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

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  • extreme loss of weight
  • emaciated appearance
  • eroded teeth
  • thinning hair
  • dizziness
  • swollen extremities
  • dehydration
  • arrhythmia
  • irritated skin on knuckles
  • extreme food restriction
  • excessive exercise
  • self-induced vomiting
  • excessive fear of gaining weight
  • use of layered clothing to cover up body imperfections

7. Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia Nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by an obsessive desire to lose weight due to a distorted body image where large amounts of food are consumed and then purged. The symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with the ability to perform normal daily activities and fulfill personal responsibilities.

Below are some of the most common symptoms associated with this disorder:

  • self-induced vomiting
  • consuming abnormally large amounts of food with the intent to purge
  • the constant fear of gaining weight
  • excessive exercising
  • excessive use of laxatives and diuretics to lose weight
  • food restriction
  • shame and guilt

Final Thoughts

From bipolar disorder to bulimia, major depression to dysthymia, there is a mental health diagnosis to fit any combination of symptoms that you may be experiencing. There are also a variety of corresponding self-assessment tests circulating all over the internet for you to choose from.

However, if you are looking for a proper diagnosis, I strongly suggest that you make an appointment to meet with a well-trained mental health professional in your community for more comprehensive and conclusive findings. Similar to cancer, early detection and treatment may significantly improve the prognosis for recovery.[6] And like I said, it’s impossible to be completely objective when it comes to self-diagnosing the condition of your own mental health or that of a loved one.

Furthermore, although the corner pharmacy may have plenty of over-the-counter medications that claim to help you fall asleep faster and even stay asleep longer, at the end of the day, no medication can actually resolve the underlying issues that have been negatively impacting your ability to sleep in the first place.

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Just like in business—and in the immortal words of Thomas A. Edison—“there is no substitute for hard work.” So, try to set aside as much time as you can to work on improving your mental health. After all, you are your most influential advocate, and your mind is your greatest asset.

More Tips on Mental Wellness

Featured photo credit: Sydney Sims via unsplash.com

Reference

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