Past Baggage – Emotional And Physical Debris

by Sherry Riter in Happiness,Relationship,Self-Development  

overgrown old wood farm shed

Old stuff. Old buildings. Old people. All old things have character. Past emotional baggage is an old thing too and it definitely has a character like none other.

Old things like slides, bicycles, hot water heaters, tubs, roofing material, lumber and abandoned farm houses that have become physical debris are very similar to past emotional baggage.

rusted slide red bike blue tub

What Is Emotional Baggage?

Emotional baggage is a common term used to describe unresolved emotional issues. The term “emotional baggage” brings to mind a visual of a load that is heavy laden with trauma, disappointments, sadness, pain, heartbreak and all the things done wrong to and by you.

old farm window milk glass vases

Results Of Emotional Baggage

If it were possible to have lost luggage at the airport, the best one to lose would be the emotional baggage. Unfortunately, getting rid of past unresolved issues is quite a bit more complicated albeit very necessary. Being human means making mistakes. Although lessons are learned and wisdom gained from mistakes, the emotions tied to the incidents are often unpleasant. It is healthy to work through the full range of emotions after a mistake because burying them causes many unpleasant side effects such as:

  • Anger
  • Loss of self-confidence
  • Loss of creativity
  • Anxiety
  • Insecurity
  • Sabotaging relationships or attempts at goals
  • A constant miserable feeling
  • Depression
  • Loss of self-respect
  • Fear to try something new
  • Lack of trust
  • Overwhelming regret

Ugh! That’s a whole bunch of pain!

old farm double steel sink

Outward Appearance Of Emotional Baggage

Since emotional baggage is actually not something you can see like you do when you look at a cloud or bird, it is impossible to just look at someone and see their past unresolved issues. However, there are some characteristics of a person that could be the red flag that unresolved emotional baggage is lurking beneath the surface.

When emotional baggage remains a constant in a personality, it often makes the person hard to get along with because they are:

  • Extremely jealous
  • Very needy of attention
  • A control freak
  • Arrogant
  • Flagrantly bossy
  • A whiner
  • Often acting like a jerk

Unresolved emotional issues have a tendency to be like an alien that takes over our own personality. The emotional baggage sucks the life out of us and replaces our personality with an obnoxious and unhappy one. Often people can keep unresolved issues hidden for extended periods of time and even fake themselves out to believe that everything is under control, but eventually the overwhelming unhappiness explodes hurling vile emotional and sometimes physical debris everywhere.

The fight or flight responses kick in when we are thrust into uncomfortable situations reminiscent of past pain. That is the whole basis of why control freaks are control freaks – they feel that if they can control a situation, they won’t ever be hurt again. So their emotional baggage keeps them safe while they try to avoid all the painful experiences touching their life. Everyone with emotional baggage is at least a tad bit of a control freak in at least one area.

rusted water heater farm equipment

How To Fix Or Eliminate Emotional Baggage

A false sense of “I can completely control my world,” is a sure sign of emotional baggage, but how can we rid ourselves of these debilitating issues? I think it takes three large steps to eliminate emotional baggage in order to live a successful life.

  1. Admit it – You can fool everyone else, but you can’t ever truly fool yourself that you don’t have emotional baggage. The first step is the same as with any addiction – admittance. Yeah, I did say “addiction” as if emotional baggage was an addiction. Maybe not to the scientific world, but you know as well as I do that the feelings obtained by hanging onto unresolved issues may not be pleasant, but they provide a comfortable miserableness. It’s like that saying, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.”
  2. See the facts – Although it is easier to blame the entire world for every problem, eventually you need to start acknowledging that you make mistakes AND that it is okay to make mistakes. Other people are to blame for many things that contribute to emotional baggage, but hanging onto all the unresolved issues is solely your choice. If you’re hanging onto them and not seeking help, then you can only blame yourself for your unhappiness.
  3. Forgiveness – After recognizing that you have emotional baggage, understanding exactly where it is coming from and that you are choosing to hang onto it, then the next step is to let it go. It is time to stop blaming and holding resentment against yourself and everyone else. Let go of the anger, pain, blame, resentment and all other emotions that are stealing your energy. This can be accomplished by forgiving yourself and forgiving others. You won’t ever forget what got you to this point, but forgiveness will allow you the freedom to leave it in the past, totally powerless, where it belongs.

Past emotional baggage is a huge topic. I could write for hours and hours about the effect of unresolved issues on a marriage relationship, but I’m going to let that one slide for now. But let me say one thing about it…Emotional baggage can TOTALLY destroy a relationship.

Take to heart the three steps to eliminating emotional baggage in your life. This is truly a journey to happiness for yourself and only you can do it. Don’t you want to be totally happy? Do you believe you can attain that happiness? Go ahead and take the steps you need to put the past into the past…

Let go, love, laugh and live a life filled with inner peace void of past emotional baggage.

couple statue old farm window

“Yesterday is gone.
Tomorrow has not yet come.
We have only today.
Let us begin.”
~ Mother Teresa ~



This post was written by...

Sherry Riter is also known as The Redhead Riter. Sherry is witty, intelligent and addictive as she writes about cooking, family, marriage, failures, blogging tips, art, humor, inspiration, travel, PTSD and aging. Her goal is to inspire, motivate, educate and to make her audience laugh. Sherry embraces being a redhead and helps others to see the redhead point of view…"In some eras redheads were worshipped while others thought us witches. Personally, I like the former and think every day is 'Love a redhead day!'" She can also be found on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Linkedin, tweeting as @TheRedheadRiter and you can subscribe to her free blog feed.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Susanne October 18, 2012 at 7:45 am

Good Morning,

I have successfully completed Steps #1 and #2. However, I have been attempting to complete Step #3 for years. No to be more accurate decades. Self talk has not worked. No therapist has helped. This leads me to one simple questions. How does one forgive yourself? How does one let go, when all of the mistakes effect daily life. I don’t know how to do this, but I do know that my anger and resentment grows exponentially.

Peace out!


2 Sherry Riter October 18, 2012 at 9:10 am

That’s an excellent question, Susanne. I think forgiving ourselves is one of the hardest acts we have to perform. Every unhealthy, unwise or plain stupid mistake that we’ve made is the reason we are who we are and where we are. So if our present condition totally stinks, who do we blame? I think recognizing that we ARE going to make mistakes and huge blunders is a huge step on the road to self-forgiveness. So you messed up. So your life is not anything like you wanted it to be. So you are currently feeling trapped between a rock and a hard place. So what if it is 100 percent your fault. Big deal. You’ve learned. You’ve experienced. You’ve grown. Now it is time to fix what you can fix and change everything that is causing you unhappiness. Take it one step at a time and congratulate yourself for each accomplishment along the way no matter how small it may seem. This is YOUR life and you CAN have happiness in each day. Change is NOT easy and it is often PAINFUL, but changing is the only way to become happy when you are unhappy..

Now go back and read that again, Susanne. This time believe it, feel it and KNOW that you can do it. 😉

Peace out!


3 Susanne October 18, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Awww..thank you for taking my question to heart and for doing your very best to answer it. You are so sweet. I’m grateful for your kindness.

I know, that you know, that somewhere deep down, I regard your response as totally rational and I can even say that yes…I know. I have been lectured on it, read about it, and guided toward it. The elusive “it”. You are wise, because you’re correct, the only thing left to do is to believe in “it”. Maybe someday, hopefully very soon, because I’m on the verge of drowning, I will be able to do just that. Thanks for your support, encouragement and most of all for caring.

Sending hugs to you. 🙂
Peace out!


4 Sherry Riter October 18, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Why wait for some day?!!! Believe it today Susanne! The rest of your life is waiting for you and it is filled with excitement! Come on girl! I’m right here with you. Take that first step and I will cheer you on each step of the way. {{{SUPER BIG HUGSSSS}}}

Oh yeah and Peace Out!


5 Joan October 18, 2012 at 5:31 pm

WOW, Dr. Red, that was an inspirational as well as motivational answer you gave to Susanne! (Are you sure that you are not really a therapist? :))

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post, but I do have one dilemma. I do not know what I liked best – the writing or the pictures. You have such a photogenic eye! (Are you sure that you are not really a photographer? :))

Well, one thing I know for sure. You are definitely a writer – or as you like to call yourself a riter! 🙂


6 Sherry Riter October 18, 2012 at 9:38 pm

LOL Well Joan, I am a woman of many talents. I’ve been told that I am “naturally therapeutic” and that it is one of my gifts. 😀 Obviously I haven’t been able to totally heal myself which is why I have a therapist too! LOL

I’m so glad you enjoyed reading the post!!! Thank you for the compliment on my photogenic eye. 😀 I love spending my time behind the lens and have big plans for doing that too. Yep. Goals.

I REALLY appreciate that you like my writing. It is my first love and passion. Ahhh yes, wordy me. {{{hugs hugs hugs}}}


7 Ric Fox October 18, 2012 at 2:55 pm

“Judge not lest ye be judged” applies to our own judgement and criticisms of ourselves in our mistakes. We have no right to even judge ourselves.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and I have to admit them, but I can’t spend the rest of my life wallowing in self pity about it. My folks made mistakes as well and I can’t spend my life blaming them for my own failures either.

Takes too much damn energy to be upset about things I can do nothing about. I just try to let go and let God, clear the wreckage of the past and move on to today, where life is. I am not perfect, I am not God, and I forgive myself first and love myself first, then forgive and let go of all the rest.

Satan, get thee behind me. The past is where he dwells.

great post, Sherry, thank you


8 Sherry Riter October 18, 2012 at 9:32 pm

“I am not perfect” is EXACTLY right! As long as we remember that we are not perfect and stop trying to condemn ourselves for not being perfect, we will be able to love the real person in us. 😀 Thank you Ric!


9 katherine October 18, 2012 at 9:56 pm

Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things hop. xo P.S. Have you entered my latest giveaway?


10 Sherry Riter October 19, 2012 at 1:15 am

Thank YOU Katherine!!!


11 Jenny Thomas October 19, 2012 at 9:16 am

Haven’t had chance to read all the comments, but just wanted to say that maybe emotional baggage isn’t something to be got rid of, but something you should honour….life isn’t perfect, and if it was, it wouldn’t be worth living…the things we go through, the emotional scars we carry, are all testimony to the battles we’ve survived, part of our emotional growth and development as human beings…all strands of the strength we have now…. lxx


12 Sherry Riter October 19, 2012 at 9:40 pm

The lessons learned from emotional baggage should be kept, remembered and reflected on often, but I think the actually “baggage” should be healed so that it becomes wisdom instead of debilitating pain. Is that what you meant too?


13 Skip_D October 19, 2012 at 1:00 pm

first, I have to agree with both of Joan’s points – you’re a wonderful photographer, with an outstanding eye, and you’re a masterful writer, with skill, insight, and wisdom that you share so generously with us, your readers.

in a case like this, I am amazed at the way you can take such a complex topic, fraught with issues, & reduce it to such a concise list of simple facts & procedures… kudos!!! …of course, it’s now up to those of us who have read it to take advantage of the list you have given us to deal with our own baggage! thanks!!!


14 Sherry Riter October 19, 2012 at 9:39 pm

“such a complex topic, fraught with issues”…Yes! You are so right! I like taking stuff down to the “simple easy” because that is really the only way I can solve problems. Otherwise, everything seems too overwhelming. Ya’ know what I mean?


15 jennifer April 20, 2015 at 2:08 pm

I love the article and the pictures were a nice touch. This is my first time seeing your blog. I’m a deep thinker, and always questioning life. In my youth a lot of things happened to me that I just couldn’t let go of. I felt like if I forgave than I would let the people that hurt me, get away with their crime against me. I spent a week meditating on the idea of forgiveness and how to apply it to my life.

My aunt is a Christian and to me like Mother Teresa, just the nicest sweetest person. She told me a story of the little boy who broke his toy and kept asking his dad to fix it. His dad said he couldn’t fix the toy until the boy could truly let it go. It was that story that helped me, along with other ideas about forgiveness that helped me to understand fully what forgiveness is.

In my mind I saw all the people that hurt me and how they are living their lives just fine, because I wasn’t able to let it go and forgive. I believe in Karma (what you put out , you get back). If I don’t let go and let the universe handle the situation than that universal balance of “what you do comes back to you” won’t work on the people that have put that energy out there. The only person that it’s hurting is the person that won’t forgive, like the saying ” Let go and let God”.

Every time a painful memory came up I would say “I forgive you” and allow that memory to go away on it’s own time. I also believe that the person who caused pain was in pain themselves. They have already been punished, and being negative can be contagious. Make sure to take that negativity and turn it around to do something wonderful and kind with it. Let that anger or pain push you to do something wonderful and kind. If you know that people who cause pain are in pain than it will also allow you to have compassion for the stupid people that say nasty things and ruin your day.

Goodness is more contagious and being nice to someone can really make a huge difference and can make you feel a billion times better.


16 Sherry Riter April 28, 2015 at 3:21 am

Thank you for your thoughtful comment Jennifer.

“The only person that it’s hurting is the person that won’t forgive.” I definitely agree! The person that caused you agony doesn’t wake up each morning and think of you, so why should you think of them? Just put it all behind you and let go. I love your comment. 🙂


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