… Don’t Take Someone Else’s Bag
A common theme in therapy is ownership of emotional baggage. We all have collected it, it’s being human.
It is important self work to unpack and sort your emotional baggage to identify what belongs to you.
It is incredibly easy to take on our partner’s trauma or other people’s stuff when we love them. Metaphorically, when you unpack your emotional suitcase in therapy, it’s a relatively easy process to distinguish what is yours and what is not.
Yes it is easy to take on someone else’s emotional baggage BUT not always so easy to then let it go. The countertransference that happens when we take on someone’s else’s trauma as if it were our own is known as vicarious trauma. There is also compassion fatigue and emotional exhaustion. And once you are feeling like this, it is not easy to undo or let that go.
Here’s the thing. You should not do more work on other peoples problems than they do.
We can do more harm than good when we enable, rescue and compensate for others emotional baggage. This does not advocate to be emotionally disconnected or non supportive. Quite the opposite! Rather to be emotionally connected respectfully and honestly. That your partner feels safe to communicate their experiences with you without judgement and shame. And for you to not feel responsible for ‘fixing’ them. Nurturing your partner and showing compassion does not ever mean you have to own their emotional baggage, have it forced or projected onto you, binded or inherited to you.
Try to accept what is without trying to change it for them.
You maybe wondering how is it possible to accept your partner’s emotional baggage. And that because you are, you are agreeing with what they are doing or what has happened to them. But by accepting what is for them, you can recognise that this is their experience. By taking it upon yourself to own their emotional baggage to save or fix them, you are in effect, impeding their own learning and healing. And likely to exhaust or lose yourself in the process. To do your partner’s emotional work for them is a form of second parenting; more of a parent than a partner. Unpack further, we can recognise emotional baggage isn’t the exact problem rather how it is managed or dealt with by that person.
Using therapy is a useful tool to help sort through emotional baggage, form personal boundaries, discuss how you can be less affected, and find healthier ways to cope. Regulating your empathy is key to managing the flood of emotions we feel for our partner’s baggage which can often overwhelm your own self care or care for your well being.
The end of year represents a good opportunity to unpack your emotional suitcase. To take out those “shirty’ experiences that were not and are not yours and repack for the new year ahead. It will serve you as well as them.
Travel Lighter And Happy Holidays!
Being human with you