Emotional baggage is what people often carry into relationships.
Simply put, “baggage” is the collection of unpleasant memories from the past that continue to negatively affect our perception and behavior in the present.
How and why do we bring baggage into our relationships from the past?
Each of these must be met or we will not feel secure:
Attachment: I’m connected to my caretakers and can depend upon them.
Exploration: I can leave Mom & Dad and come back. I’m not smothered.
Identity I am secure in who I am. I don’t have to be like anyone else.
Competency: I can reach for my dreams and find success without shame.
We’re born with 4 beautiful ways to connect to others:
Thinking: I can have my own ideas.
Sensing: It’s okay to explore my body.
Feeling: I can have feelings that are different from yours.
Acting: I can show my feelings.
Protective behaviors are always defensive and adaptive.
They allow us to restore a sense of safety and to continue living and being accepted by our parents, whom we adore and love unconditionally, despite the pain, as infants and young kids. But they can also create problems when their ability to defend and protect is mistaken for an attack.
We look for partners who make us whole, shedding the need to use any protective behaviors. When we can release these protective behaviors in our baggage, we are able to live a freer life.
Although we categorize our baggage into three separate areas, know that all of our baggage is very closely related.
Our protective behaviors are developed from our unmet needs and lost parts. By failing to embrace all of the parts of our personality, our caregivers fail to meet certain needs.
We can’t always unpack one type of baggage. This process can get messy, confusing, and disorganized. But the benefits of unpacking our baggage and opening it up for our partners to see and understand will have unbelievable benefits on our relationship and our lives.
A relationship goes through numerous phases during its life cycle, and it’s obvious for it to have a few rough patches. The strength of a relationship is reflected in how couples deal with the rough patches and move ahead.
For more info. on relationship counseling, contact Robin Newman, LCSW today.
Robin Newman helps couples break through barriers to achieve greater understanding, connection and intimacy.