Monday, August 20, 2012

Letting Go of Emotional Baggage.

"Emotions are simply reminders that we are alive." 
                        Melanie Moushigian Koulouris

Emotions...we all have them. 
Some of us are just more successful than others at dealing with them. When we don't deal with them, they hang around. Many of us have created some type of emotional baggage we carry around. Past experiences have created emotional responses and at times these old emotions can come back to haunt us and impact our current lives.
Although it might feel that way, emotions don't just come from out of the blue. Behind every emotion is a thought. So, a negative emotion is really just a symptom of a negative thought. We think we are being treated badly and get angry. We think we might fail and we feel fear. But few people take the time to identify the thoughts that are creating the emotions they experience. They may even criticize themselves for having feelings, or they blame others for creating the emotion, but don't make any real effort to try to uncover the root cause of the emotion.
Often the focus is on ways to "deal with" by overcoming the emotion. Some people use drinking, drugs, overeating or other addictive behaviors to handle their emotions. Others may use support groups, relaxation techniques, or exercise to deal with emotions. But regardless of whether we use a positive or negative method of dealing with the emotion, we are only dealing with the symptom and not the cause. Attempting to block or fight the emotion ignores the thought behind the emotion.
In order to really let go of the emotional baggage, we must change the thoughts behind those emotions. So we have to shift our focus and start first by identifying the reason for the emotion. What thoughts are causing us to feel the way we do? What are we doing to empower and retain that thought? Our thoughts are based on our beliefs, so we must determine if we truly believe the thought that we are having. If not, we can make the choice to replace that negative thought with a more positive thought.
Shakespeare said, "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
Our feelings then are really just a response to the stories we tell ourselves. These stories are the interpretations we bring to events that occur. These interpretations are our thoughts superimposed on events. And the thoughts about the events may or may not be true. So in reality, we are reacting to a life that is found only in our minds.
Letting go of anxiety and worry. Anxiety and worry are emotions that are frequently caused by our inability to foresee the future. So many things in life happen that are beyond our control, and we can't even see what will actually happen.
To begin to release anxiety and worry, we need to shift our focus and instead of thinking about what might happen, we can have thoughts about how we want to prepare so that we can deal with whatever happens. We can focus on what we want to bring to the experience. We can focus on how we want to interact with others. Changing our thinking to focus on our goals and priorities and making our decisions on the basis of those priorities (instead of what we think might happen or what we want to happen) can release us from the pain of worry.
Letting go of frustration. Many of us have very rigid ideas about how life is "supposed" to be. But things don't always work the way we want them to. We keep bumping up against the nature of the world and find ourselves frustrated. We can even create a "crisis" out of our inability to get our way.
To begin to release the frustration we feel, we can change our thoughts about what we expect from life. Release your attachment on the outcome of what you do and focus instead on what you are putting into your life. Use children as your example. Infants and children often get angry or frustrated when things don't go their way, but generally they get over it very quickly and try again or move on to something else.
Letting go of anger or resentment. Anger or resentment of others can be caused by the thought that other people "should" do things the way we want them to. Our desire to control other people and our opinions of how they should act can create these negative emotions. We need to change our thoughts about other people's behavior and we can change the emotions. Eliminate the "shoulds" and focus on how we want to interact with them.
We can also feel anger and resentment towards ourselves. The thought that we should be perfect or that we should know everything can cause us to have negative feelings about ourselves when we make a mistake or fail at something. Again, changing our expectations and our thoughts about mistakes can release these emotions. We can consider a failure or a mistake as a learning experience and not as a catastrophe.
Letting go of the victim mentality. Blaming others for what happens to us can create feelings of being a victim. Or we can blame a situation instead of considering that it is our reaction, our thoughts about the event that is causing the feeling. We need to accept responsibility for our lives and how we react instead of blaming others. Shift thoughts to recognizing your role in the situation and what you have learned or gained from the experience.
Letting go of disappointment. Disappointment can be a result of feeling that we don't measure up, that we aren't good enough. Climbing the ladder of success, whether in business or our social lives, involves trying to get more, get better, or be the best. We try to pull more money, power, or status into our lives in order to convince ourselves or others that we are enough. To release these emotions, we need to redefine our thoughts about what success means and let go of the need to be the best.
Gaining emotional freedom. What stops us from being emotionally free? We do. Pain and suffering exists when our thoughts don't match reality. We need to question our thoughts to determine what is true for us. Truth can open emotional wounds and heal them. We must evaluate the thoughts that are causing the pain and change them.
It is also important to truly feel our emotions and then let them go. Again, children can be our role models. You will notice that children are not afraid to express what they feel, but then they move on very quickly to other feelings. We must learn to really notice how we feel and completely experience the emotions. Acknowledge painful emotions, and take joy in the positive emotions. Then move on, past those feelings. Feelings that are repressed can come back to haunt us later, so that the feelings we have about a certain event or issue is actually a composite of the thoughts and feelings we have had in the past. For real emotional health, we need to be able to express our emotions at the right moment in the right way.

By. Sherry Dawson


  1. hi Melanie,

    This is gowtham. actually i was bit depressed about my on the verge of breaking up complex relationship and i was searching for some nice quotes on the face book and i came across your name and ended up here in your blog. Wonderful material u have up here . my worries are not about the colors of emotions of humans but about what happens when these colors blend and create a combination of emotions wherein one cannot handle them all at once and go through an emotional break down?? what does one do then???

  2. Melanie, someone put a post on my web page:
    which they attributed to you, but there is no reference. I would like to know if you wrote "Once you become consciously aware of just how powerful your thoughts are, you will realize everything in your life is exactly how you allow it to be". And if so, is it an original quote from you, or did you get it from someone else? Where was it originally published? I can't find it in this blog...