How to Deal With Past Emotional Baggage So It Doesn’t Ruin Your Present Relationship

How do you deal with past emotional baggage so it doesn’t ruin your present relationship? Here are five essential steps you must take:

1. Identify your issues. You can’t deal with something, if you don’t know what it is. Analyze your childhood and other significant relationships. What has happened in each of those that have left you with hurts, wounds, and scars? What roles did you play in those relationships and what patterns can you identify that are reoccurring? Once you know how you have been impacted by prior relationships, you can see which issues have the potential to affect your current ones.

2. Identify your triggers. One of the hallmarks of past emotional baggage is that it is riddled with triggers. A trigger is something that reminds you of the past, thereby bringing up the old feelings, memories, and reactions. If your prior partner cheated on you, a trigger might be his talking to another woman at a party or walking away from you to talk on his cell. These triggers would cause you to feel distrustful and suspicious.

3. Identify your reactions. Once you recognize that you have triggers, you can then identify your reaction to them. What do you do when you feel distrustful, suspicious, neglected, pressured, controlled, or mistreated? Past baggage often results in emotional reactivity which is often an over-reaction to current circumstances. When you know how you react to things that trigger your past baggage, you can begin to change them.

4. Identify your reality. Even when you know you are reacting to the past, the feelings can be so intense that it can be hard to react differently. Force yourself to identify your current reality. Do you have evidence your current partner is unfaithful? If not, then recognize that truth. Use your mind to counter the thoughts and feelings that aren’t reality today.

5. Identify your new behavior. Once you have done all these things, you can then choose how you want to act. It is okay to share your feelings with your partner, as long as you own them as a part of your past that you are working through. This helps your partner to understand who you are without feeling that you are blaming or accusing. Choose how you want to act and do the necessary work on yourself until that behavior becomes your new normal.