Have you ever watched the TV show “Hoarders”? How did it make you feel?
For me, I felt instant shame. Not because my home was filled to the roof with worthless keepsakes and trash, but because my mind was. I saw many similarities between myself and the Hoarders on TV, who were completely oblivious to how out of control the situation had become.
I can remember hoarding my emotional baggage as early as the age of six, when I was living in an abusive household, with an absentee father, and little to no stability. When life became too stressful, I learned the trick of burying these stressful emotions into symbolic mental boxes, and storing them in dark corners in the back of my mind. Heck, after I had collected enough of them I could position them to make a mental fort: a safe place where I could hide when I wasn’t feeling safe. No one could get in and I didn’t have to deal with what I was experiencing, it seemed like a win-win at the time.
As a child, I did such a good job hiding all those boxes in the back of my mind that I continued to do it well into my 20’s before I even realized how much I had collected. The stacks of mental baggage were becoming unstable, and as a result so was I. One day I would be feeling great, but the next day something would shake me up and send a pile of those boxes crashing down on me like an emotional avalanche. When my instability began to send my marriage spiralling out of control I knew my intervention had officially arrived.
This moment of clarity brought about a lot of questions, doubts and fears. How does one clean out their emotional baggage? Where do I start? How will I find it? Who am I without it? What if I can’t do this?
This needed to be a safe, loving and supportive journey, so I approach the situation very delicately. I chose to see my mind as a messy home, and made a vow not to judge myself for leaving it so unkept for so long. This was a massive project, so I created subgoals that seemed less daunting. Without entirely knowing what I was going to find, I came up with a basic game-plan for finding, feeling and releasing my emotions, and I’ve listed them below:
Cleaning out my emotional baggage cleared space for wonderful new memories, and an appreciation for my past. I am no longer a prisoner of my past, drudging through my day pulling that heavy baggage along with me. It has given me a new lease on life, and I challenge each and every one of you reading this to take a look in your own emotional closets and see what you can release, reuse and recycle.
The best way to move past something, is to move through it. With a little courage, we can all free ourselves from the shackles of the past, and can break the chains that have been pulling us from moving in the direction of our dreams.
Be brave wellness warriors, and know that you can do this.
Sending love, light, and emotional wellness,