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10 Simple Ways to Deal with Emotional Baggage

Posted By:  Mkpoikanke Otu on April 21, 2020  

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Before reading this article, it’s important to read the previous articles titled “Influence of emotional baggage on attraction, love, and friendship” and “15 ways to identify emotional baggage”. This is because the fundamental issues regarding emotional baggage were discussed in those two articles. This present article is a continuation of the previous ones. Thus, this article is more relevant after you have read the previous ones and identified the emotional baggage you want to deal with.

The 10 points discussed in this article are all important ways one can deal with emotional baggage. Follow them one after the other.

1.   Open up and talk about it: The strength of emotional baggage is secrecy. You should open up and talk about what happened and how you feel. I know for some people, depending on the type of emotional baggage they carry, it may take some years before they can talk about their past unpleasant experiences while others can easily talk about it. But why wait for some years when you can talk about it now? Why are you still keeping it secret? Don’t you know you are not helping yourself by not opening up?  

Do not be afraid to talk about it even though emotional baggage is enveloped in fear to a great extent. God instructed us that we should not be afraid (Isaiah 43:1). Therefore, anyone that is afraid is disobeying God. Also, what you fear may come upon you (Job 3:25).

So always tell each other the wrong things you have done. Then pray for each other. Do this so that God can heal you. Anyone who lives the way God wants can pray, and great things will happen (James 5:16, ERV). It is when you open up that you can know many people have experienced it. You are not alone, so don’t die in silence or ‘swim’ in darkness.

According to the scripture above, you are to open up to “Anyone who lives the way God wants can pray”. The person must not be a counsellor, a pastor, a prophet or a priest (though that would be an added advantage); but the person must live the way God wants and can pray. You will know such a person by the fruits he is bearing, not by his works, signs, or miracles (Matthew 7:20).

2.   Forgive and Forget: This is another way to stay free from emotional baggage. Forgive and forget; don't forget without forgiving. Forgetting without forgiving creates painful memory once in a while. If you observe recurring painful memory of something that happened in the past, it is a sign that you did not forgive before you forgot.

 Depending on what happened to you; you may have to forgive yourself, parents, friends, relations, government, and other parties. Sometimes, the people you should forgive may not be directly involved in the incident. But you may have felt bad about what they did or what they did not do, and as such connected them to the incidence and created negative emotions towards them. If you don't forgive, what you felt about them may affect how you relate with them or anyone that plays their role or resemble them. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you (Colossians 3:13).

3.   Prayer: The prayer should follow the confession you have made. That is, if you have identified emotional baggage such as anger, fear, unforgiveness, shame, guilt, impatience or whatever, you should talk about it with someone who lives the way God wants and two of you should pray. Moreover, these are the examples of the prayer you can pray: “Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you (Psalm 51:1-2, 12-13).”

4.      Change your mind: The “change of mind process” is described as repentance. This is not about feeling regret, guilt or shame; it implies deciding to turn around, to face a new direction, and that new direction is Christ. Thus, you are to turn from your old ways of life to begin a new way of life by: (1) believing in your heart that Jesus is Lord and confess with your mouth that God raised Him from dead (Romans 10:9); (2) renewing your mind with the word of God daily. This is done by reading, meditating, praying, confessing and obeying the word of God (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23; Titus 3:5).

Please note that this is not a one-time endeavor. It is a continuous activity, which if you stop you can suffer a relapse of the baggage. Note also that the time that you will be free from emotional baggage is when your mind is completely renewed and you become a new creation in Christ and all things become new to you (Read my article titled “Can a Christian have emotional baggage?”). 

5.   Unlearning and Relearning: Dealing with emotional baggage is a conscious unlearning and relearning process that involves thinking, and behaving differently from your previous ways of thinking and behaving. Since the trapped emotion may not just disappear on its own, you should consciously watch over your thoughts, behaviour, and reactions to people and circumstances.

The unlearning process means that you consciously let go of the past feelings, thoughts, attitudes, and behaviours that relate to the unpleasant events you experienced. On the other hand, the relearning process means that when you see yourself in situations similar to that of the past, you should act differently because you are now aware of the fact that the situation/circumstance is not the problem, rather, your mind is the problem.

6.   Do not generalize:  To generalize means to make a broad assumption by inferring from specific unpleasant experiences you had in the past. Dealing with emotional baggage demands that you don’t generalize your experiences. For instance, don’t assume that a similar person/situation that ignited your unpleasant experience will always ignite such experiences. You may have been raped by a tall man, but you don’t have to assume that every tall man will rape you. See the experience as an unfortunate occurrence that will not occur again. If you were maltreated by a short man, don’t assume that every short man will maltreat you.

7.   Don’t expect it to happen again: That something had happened to you in the past does not mean it will happen again. Therefore, you don’t have to expect the past unpleasant event to happen to again. Dispel all thoughts or ideas that inform you about the recurrence of past experiences. Also, hold unto the opposite of such thoughts by believing and thinking that the past will not happen again.

8.   Undergo Therapy: A trained therapist, psychologist, and counsellor can lead you through therapeutic processes to enable you to release your trapped emotions. The processes will be dependent upon the specific emotion that is influencing your life. At the end of meeting a counsellor or a therapist, you will be able to identify and deal with your emotional baggage.

9.   Use the Word of God: Hebrews 4:12-13 (NLT) 12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.

The word of God is powerful enough to set you free from every emotional baggage. I, therefore, recommend that you humble yourself to learn the word of God to be free from emotional baggage. For instance, if the trapped emotion in your life is anger, find out what the bible talks about anger and act accordingly; if the emotion is a shame, depression, sadness, bitterness, or guilt, use an appropriate word that deals with the issue.

10.  Understand that nothing can separate you from God’s Love

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. 35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”[a]) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.

The understanding that God loves you irrespective of what you have experienced is enough to help you deal with emotional baggage. Your job is to confess this word, believe, meditate and think about it all the time until the word becomes real to you and produce evidence. The evidence of this word is that your life will be transformed and all the emotional baggage will disappear.  

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