A painful past is not referred to as emotional baggage without good reason. Negative thoughts about experiences can certainly weigh you down. Much like real luggage, they are a burden if they are heavy. If you want to travel light, you need to drop distressing memories before they damage countless aspects of your life.
People often think in terms of bad romantic relationships when they speak of emotional baggage. However, you can be acutely influenced by any experiences that you regard as negative. Whether you are angry with your mother for not showing you enough love, or furious with an ex partner who let you down, the weight that you bare can have unhealthy consequences.
What Emotional Baggage Does
Much like a wave, emotional baggage can gain momentum as experiences that hurt you grow in your mind. Moreover, the simple act of holding on to them is dis-empowering since it brings you down. Forming new relationships or embracing fresh opportunities can be tough when you carry a heavy load on your shoulders.
Not surprisingly, refusing to let go of emotional angst takes effort. Continually referring to the past in your mind and mulling over unhappy times stops you living in the present fully. Additionally, you are likely to transfer feelings about people involved in painful memories onto people who are currently involved in your life. If an ex cheated on you, you might become wary of your new partner, imagining that he or she is seeing someone behind your back. Accusing your partner of being unfaithful, or secretly eying him or her with suspicion is bound to influence your relationship in a bad way.
How to let go
You need to recognize how damaging hanging on to painful emotions can be and the ways in which doing so influences your life now. Furthermore, you have to consciously decide that enough is enough and be ready to let go. Accepting that the past is over and you have the power to stop putting energy into keeping it going is a healthy step forward.