We’ve all carried baggage from past relationships at one time or another. Whether it’s from a past love, friendship or even a family member, we carry the baggage from these relationships with us, and it can affect everything we do. Everything.
The problem isn’t actually the baggage itself but how we allow the baggage to define us. Can we figure out who we are independent of the baggage or has the baggage created who we are?
If the baggage is defining who we are, then we owe it to ourselves to release its hold over us. “Just let it go,” they say. But just letting it go is a much more difficult task than it sounds. Letting go of something we have been carrying around with us for a while isn’t something that happens overnight, but it is possible.
Here are some ways to help us begin the process of releasing the hold our baggage has on our lives, the decisions we make, and our existing relationships.
HOW TO RELEASE ATTACHMENTS TO PAST RELATIONSHIPS
1 – BE WILLING TO RELEASE THE ATTACHMENT
Why we hold onto baggage is different for all of us. We might use it to shield us from future hurt, to help propel us into action, to allow us to feel certain emotions, or to keep us from moving forward. Any action motivated by the baggage we hold onto is not serving us.
We often want to release the baggage, when in some way it is giving us something we think we need. We know it isn’t healthy, but on some level, we keep justifying it to ourselves. Letting go of the baggage is hard and doesn’t happen overnight, but we have to start with the affirmation that it is what we need to do.
2 – JOURNAL
We should start writing down our thoughts, beliefs and the behaviors that affect our mood. Be honest and just write anything that comes to mind. It’s important to create a judgment-free zone where we are able to be real with ourselves. As we continue to write, we will start to notice patterns and triggers that we can begin to recognize and change.
3 – CHALLENGE THE STORY
We write our life’s story from our perspective. If the story is not contributing positively to our current reality, it is up to us to challenge it. Our story is from our point of view, as it should be. But to begin to let go of the baggage, it is helpful to take a step outside of our story and write it from another perspective. Another perspective helps us to release the overwhelming emotion we feel and can help us break the hold it has on us.
4 – FIND THE POSITIVE
Every relationship, even the bad ones, serve a purpose in our lives. Our goal should be to find something positive that will help us reframe how we look at the relationship.
Maybe the relationship helped define acceptable behaviors, made us stronger and more resilient, or helped us become more grateful for small moments. We can only begin to let go once we stop focusing on the bad and shift our focus to the silver lining, however small.
5 – TREAT OTHERS WITH KINDNESS
It is easy to treat kind people with kindness, but make it a goal to treat everyone with kindness – even those less deserving. This shifts our focus from past bad behaviors to future good ones. When we stop letting the bad behaviors of past relationships determine our future actions, we can begin to let go.
6 – VISUALIZE YOUR OWN VERSION OF HAPPY
As we begin to separate ourselves from the baggage, it is important to visualize what our happiness without it looks like.
How do we feel and act in our relationships with others? And how does our time alone make us feel? Finally… How do we make decisions without the baggage as an influence?
Once we have a clear vision of what life is like without our dependence on our baggage, it is easier to make choices with that future in mind.
7 – RELEASE EXPECTATIONS
As we begin to act independent of our baggage, it is important to move forward without expectations. It is our expectations that will keep us tied to the behaviors of our past relationships. We oftentimes have expectations, some of which are unrealistic, without even realizing it. That is why journaling is so important. You will become aware of when the baggage is creeping in.
FINAL THOUGHTS: IT CAN BE HEALTHY FOR YOU TO RELEASE PAST RELATIONSHIPS
It’s okay to be a little weary of the process. We harbor a great deal of emotion and it can be painful to get through it. If we continue to hold onto it without facing it, it will affect everything we do. Don’t wait until there is a risk of losing something wonderful to release the baggage.