Are You Carrying Extra Baggage in Your Mental Health Suitcase?

by Gwen Davis, ACMHC

Mental Health Suitcase. Sometimes we walk around with trauma from our past that we don't even realize we are carrying. Therapy can help us unpack the unnecessary luggage and move on to happier and healthier times.

The Baggage We Carry

Have you ever contemplated the childhood experiences and emotions that continue to influence your present life? It’s akin to the act of placing items in a metaphorical suitcase and carrying them with you throughout your life’s journey. Your past experiences typically create specific coping strategies, which have been stowed away in your metaphorical suitcase. This suitcase accompanies you through every life event, situation, or relationship you encounter. Sometimes accumulating additional content without your awareness.

The Weight of the Past on Your Mental Health

The items we place in this suitcase may not always promote our well-being, particularly if our childhood or formative years are marked by adversity. Moreover, they may not serve us well in navigating the present and future. Coping mechanisms developed in response to unproductive or distressing circumstances in our earlier years, often referred to as complex trauma, can manifest in adulthood, potentially yielding undesirable outcomes.

This is because, during childhood, we employed the coping strategies available to us at the time, lacking alternatives. These strategies were adaptive during that developmental phase but may no longer be suitable or beneficial as we transition into adulthood.

Self-Reflection: What’s Inside?

It is worth engaging in self-reflection by asking, “What resides within my metaphorical suitcase, and is it conducive to my well-being and personal growth?”

Therapy Can Help You Unpack Your Suitcase

The objective of therapy is to unpack that suitcase with all those unhealthy ways you dealt with life. We then collaborate to discern which items should be placed back into the suitcase to help you cope more effectively, work towards positive outcomes, and better handle life’s challenges. The process can be arduous at times, but with the right support, you can learn new, healthier ways of coping. Having someone alongside you to help bear the weight of that suitcase when it becomes too heavy is crucial. This is where I come in. My purpose is to assist you in carrying it, unpacking it, and introducing new, positive elements. These include fresh coping strategies, novel perspectives, releasing past hurts and hang-ups, and discovering new ways to lead a more fulfilling life.

Do I really Want to Know What is Inside?

Sometimes, we remain unaware of the emotional baggage we have carried for an extended period. These items may include fear, avoidance, escapism, anger, grief, dissociation, or sadness. While they are responses to life events, they may not always promote mental well-being if we cannot let go of them. They can hinder personal growth and prevent us from living life to its fullest. Unpacking your past and learning new ways to cope can liberate you from patterns that are holding you back in life.

Seeking Support at Unified Family Therapy

Our team of qualified therapists at Unified Family Therapy is dedicated to helping you unpack your metaphorical suitcase and repack it in a more positive and productive manner. Make an appointment today!