Why do we practice mindfulness? How does healing, releasing, and letting go of emotional baggage truly serve us? Think of your brain as a room full of filing cabinets. On one side, you have filing cabinets full of memories that fulfill you: happy memories and wonderful experiences. On another side, you have filing cabinets containing your emotional baggage. These are memories and/or experiences from your past that you haven’t yet ‘let go’ of. But are these files serving you? What purpose do they have lying around in your mind, taking up space?
I think we hold onto emotional baggage and moments from our past as a form of “proof.” We use our mental acuity to provide substance to situations we feel we need to prove. Someone hurt you? Pull up the memory and describe it. Receiving a new job opportunity but scared to step outside your comfort zone? Pull up the memory of the last time you did and failed. Something doesn’t feel emotionally safe? Memory recall. Something feels too big? Memory recall. Each and every time we step into a situation and the emotions around it don’t feel secure, we attempt to recall memories of a time we’ve felt this way before. But why? We like to think we’re right or something is wrong because it doesn’t feel safe to our subconscious, or we don’t feel worthy of it.
This feeling is different from following our intuition and actually knowing what is right and wrong for ourselves. Memory recall happens when we need proof that something won’t work, but nothing and no one in our environment agrees with that. We’re simply scared to leap! But what happens when we release that emotional baggage, rid ourselves of the emotions no longer serving us, and create space?
How We Carry Our Emotional Baggage
The statement, “I release and let go” is common among Emotional Freedom Technique practitioners. As you go through the motions of EFT (or tapping), you reiterate time and time again what emotions you’re releasing and letting go of. Go back to a core memory that causes emotional discomfort: a bad breakup, losing someone, getting fired. Recall the memories: how does it make you feel physically, emotionally, and mentally? Now direct those exact same emotions towards a new opportunity, but the same scenario. If you had a bad breakup, imagine yourself walking into a new relationship now. If you got fired, picture yourself beginning your dream job today. Do those scenarios sound scary? It’s because you haven’t released those emotions that make it feel scary and insecure. Releasing emotions around a core memory doesn’t mean forgetting or denying it ever happened to you.
To release and let go means you’re simply setting free the baggage of weighted emotions and how they serve your conscious decision-making in your life today. You’re simply sending the files off to storage; they still exist as a memory, but one that doesn’t necessarily direct how you make decisions. Our subconscious wants nothing more than for us to feel safe. So, we hold onto past emotions that remind us of “unsafe” scenarios. Relationships, new opportunities, taking big leaps. We deny the things that sound amazing or what we want because once in our past, we likely failed at “achieving” that scenario. But if you can get to an emotional space where you accept, consider, and release those emotions, what do you clear that space in your mind for?
Ask yourself: What bad things happens if I release and let go of those emotions?
Mental Real estate
How often do you remind yourself of all that you’ve accomplished? Awards you’ve won, promotions, milestones you’ve met? We rarely feel the need to recall positive memories because we’ve already deposited them into our memory bank as “accomplishments,” not necessarily proof. But, wouldn’t you consider achievements as much “proof” that you can do something as we use failure as proof that you “can’t” do something? So why don’t we? We like to fill up our mental real estate with scenarios that don’t push us and don’t serve us because we’re terrified to try and fail. But, it’s time to clear up that emotional baggage to create new space. What happens when we create new space? Opportunity, adventure, success.
Practicing mindfulness, meditation, EFT, and intentional living all serve to assist you in addressing the challenging emotions and overcoming them. We don’t have to live with our past as weight we drag behind us. Instead, we allow it to shape us into better people. Our past failures and heartaches turn into lessons, but that doesn’t mean they’re teaching us never to try again. It’s simple, we hold onto and file away the memory itself. But the emotional baggage associated with it already taught us a lesson. We’ve learned, and grown from our experiences, so why do they need to keep us from trying again?
What it Means to Release and Let Go
Contrary to what people think, so many of us love to fill our mental real estate with things that don’t involve us or with people who aren’t us. We feed into drama and listen to someone else talk about their life because many of us are scared to turn inward. We’re scared to reflect on our own lives because we all know that to heal and truly move forward, we must first go within; this is the process of releasing and letting go. However you do this–with therapy, meditation, journaling, EFT–you’re not only healing but serving your future self. When we travel through this deep (and often arduous) process, we often come to realize how much we’re actually capable of.
Many of us realize that not only are we able to survive the difficult moments in life, but we’re also capable of getting through them, overcoming them, and learning from them. When you release and let go of the emotional baggage that is no longer serving you, you’re not forgetting or suppressing the difficult moments in your life. Instead, you’re turning inward, reflecting, and ultimately moving forward, rather than letting your past hold you back.
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Want to know more?
Head over to the Do the Damn Thing Podcast on Apple or Spotify and listen to the conversation on this week’s topic! The podcast is an open forum conversation where we dive even deeper into all that is intentional living.