One of my favorite things to do during the pandemic is daydreaming about places in the world I would like to visit when it is all behind us. My latest dream is hopping from city to city through Europe. My husband, who is the practical one, warned me as soon as the idea came up, you MUST pack light! I don't know about you, but when I travel I pack my entire wardrobe, toiletries, blow dryer and anything else I can fit into my very large suitcase. But the truth is, traveling with all that weight is challenging. It is much easier to enjoy your travel when you aren't carrying 30 pounds on you wherever you go. The same can be said about traveling through life.
We all carry emotional baggage, some heavier than others. This baggage starts forming in early childhood and contains pieces such as anger toward someone who has hurt us in the past, guilt over doing something we shouldn't have, limiting beliefs about ourselves and life, or pain from past trauma. We are so good at pushing these emotions way down to the bottom of our emotional bag and pretending it isn't there. But just because we think we hid it really well, doesn't mean its effects aren't showing up in our lives in ways we don't always recognize. As Freud once said 'unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways'. Therefore, If you are serious about finding your path to happiness, you may want to have a more serious look into your bag.
Much like in the movie 'Up in the Air" I ask my clients to open their emotional bag and examine what's in there. I don't ask my clients to burn the bag like George Clooney did in the movie. The bag is apart of who my clients are and the experiences in there, including the heavy ones, helped shaped who they are today. What I do ask my clients is to figure out how to lighten the load. I guide my clients through the processing of painful emotions by talking about their experiences in session, journaling, crying, screaming into a pillow, talking to a friend or any other way that allows those emotions to be felt and released. Healing can take place when you allow yourself to let out unexpressed emotions. Healing eventually trims the weight of painful experiences thus making them more manageable to carry.
There are many places to visit and lessons to learn on your path to happiness. Beginning the journey by making sure you pack light is important for a couple of reasons. First, when you unload suppressed emotions you experience less pain, which is obviously a more desirable state. Second, when you free yourself from baggage you become less constrained. Your path may seem easier to navigate and you might just start believing that joy and satisfaction are truly attainable, if you keep plowing your path to happiness.
Important note: when dealing with trauma, please do not attempt to go through the healing process on your own. It is incredibly important to have a licensed professional guide you through it and make sure it is done in a gentle, safe and responsible way.