It’s a simple fact that none of us – NO ONE – makes it through life without carrying some form of emotional baggage + wounds.
An article by Mayo Clinic points out, “Life does not exclude any of us from bearing some degree of heartache, loss, and suffering. But, if we carry each one of these scars with us throughout life it will affect us in our relationships with our children, partners, and our careers.”
Some have more than others but we’re also not here to a) diminish our own emotional wounds because we didn’t have it as “bad” as someone else, and b) try to one-up each other.
This is not a competition we want to win.
So given that each of us has emotional baggage and wounds, how do you deal with your shit and step into the life you really want and not just the one you thought you were “supposed” to have?
I’m living proof and there is nothing unique about my story or who I am as a person (other than being a magical snowflake unicorn but you are too).
It was through sheer grit, perseverance, grace, and compassion for myself, that I battled my way through the baggage left over from a shitty childhood and I know that with the right support, you can too.
I know you’re used to going about things on your own but this is not one area to white-knuckle it through. Yes, this takes getting vulnerable. Yes, this means asking for help. Yes, I know you can get out of your own way to do this.
Get thee to therapy, aka the professional support you need. Everyone, and I literally do mean everyone, can benefit from the right therapist.
I can hear you now, you know.
“But Jeeeeeennnnnnnn. I’ve tried therapy and it didn’t work.”.
I love you and it’s important to find the right therapist. It takes work and trying a few times but I promise the right therapist and modalities make all the difference in the world.
Remember – grit, perseverance, and compassion for self. Keep trying to find the right fit.
This is where working with a coach (ahem, might I recommend me) can be hugely beneficial but you can also tackle the work on your own (though I legit do not recommend…give me six months and I can save you years and tons of heartache along the way).
This is where the second step in The SELF Approach™ comes into play. Explore just enough of the past and present to understand what exactly is holding you back.
Get really honest about:
✨ Memories that make you feel sad
✨ Comments people have said to you that made you feel less than, unworthy, angry, etc.
✨ Things that continually trigger you; trip you up
✨ Thoughts and beliefs you have that don’t light you up but instead, make you feel shitty
What we acknowledge, we can heal. What we keep buried deep inside festers and grows.
Set a timer for 30 minutes, step into the role of a neutral 3rd party investigator, and jot down everything that comes up for you.
Along the way, ask yourself:
Is this true?
Would I say it to another person and feel good about it?
What am I making this mean about me?
Is there something in this I own?
Where in my body might this be trapped?
If it’s not true, it’s time to deal with it.
If you wouldn’t say it to another person – especially a loved one, it’s time to create new neural pathways in your brain.
If you’re making it mean you’re an awful human being who is unworthy of love, it’s time to let that shit go because that is unequivocally untrue.
If it’s something you do own, make amends and if not, let it go…it’s no longer yours to carry.
If it’s trapped in your gut and gives you a stomachache, it’s time to deal with it.
It’s all just data. That’s it. Emotional objectivity FTW.
With awareness comes power + choice and now it’s time for you to decide what you carry with you and what you work to let go of. Healing is never one and done and you can’t tackle it all at once.
You can’t undo the past. Literally. I know you know this and yet, that’s often where we find ourselves living so I’m reminding you.
Forward momentum is how we iterate and heal and step into our future selves. With that…
What powerful decisions are you ready to make and do you have the support you need?
Take the items from step 2 and weigh them against each other. Which feels easier than another? Which causes you more pain?
Decide what you’re going to tackle first and set the others aside for a different day. No worries – i promise they’ll still be there for you down the road.
Not everything has to have a lesson to learn or a silver lining but many of them do.
From my own life…
My dad was abusive but I got my sense of humor from him and I love that about myself, therefore, I love that about him even though he was a deeply flawed human being (as am I).
I wouldn’t be able to coach + mentor others as deeply I do without my experiences in life and my work lights me up from the inside out.
My decades of loneliness sucked ass but I wouldn’t appreciate my ride or dies nearly as much nor take them for granted ever.
You have your own silver linings and when you find and acknowledge them, it’s like giving a giant middle finger to whatever baggage you’ve been carrying from your life’s experiences and interactions.
And what’s better than a giant F*CK YOU?!?!?
Your baggage didn’t accumulate all in one day or experience and nor will your dealing with it.
You also can’t hate your way into healing. It’s literally impossible so stop that shit right now.
Instead, practice mindfulness and intention. Flood your brain throughout the day with all the ways you’re an amazing creature of the universe because you absolutely are.
That fact that any of us carry the weight of our emotional baggage sucks donkey balls. It really really does and I am so sorry for what you’ve been through.
But…it happened. You can’t undo it. You can’t go back in time and make a different decision. All you can do is look towards who you want to be in the world and how you want to show up. Accept it.
You have big dreams and visions for your future self and acceptance is a huge step towards making those happen.
You don’t have to like it but staying in the past and allowing these wounds to fester is keeping you stuck pure and simple. You do hard things all the time; you can do this.
There is a way through and yes, it is going to take some time but I promise it is oh so worth it.
It’s time to take some action! Give yourself the uninterrupted time and space to come up with your list of emotional baggage and create a plan for how you want to tackle them one by one including where you might need some extra support.
The life you really really want is on the other side of the discomfort. You’ve got this.
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Jen Vertanen is a Life Design Coach for action-takers who are ready to "do the work" to fully love their damn lives