Emotional Luggage: Time to Lighten Your Load?
Evaluating What You’re Carrying in Your Emotional Luggage
Transitioning to a new home as an expat is not only about the big and obvious things. Yes, you are coming to a new country, physically moving your belongings, and dealing with various logistics. However, and perhaps more importantly, the inner process in your mind plays a large role. As we say goodbye, move and begin the process of adapting, we may not have time to be in touch with our inner self. We may be in too much of a whirlwind to understand what’s going on inside.
But, our “emotional luggage” is always with us and often shows up in times of rearranging life. Sometimes we forget about it but then suddenly we find the old luggage is there. The emotions and internalized beliefs came packed along with our clothing.
Relocation is the perfect opportunity to examine this luggage. We can check if it’s still up-to-date. Who am I when everything around me has changed? Who do I want to be? What values are important to me, and which are not so much anymore?
We may keep some things in our emotional luggage because we’re not done with them or they’re part of our story. However, a fresh start is the perfect time to evaluate just as you likely did with physical belongings. We have the chance to explore ideas that are rooted in our culture/upbringing and see them in new ways. Just looking around at how others and other cultures do things differently, we have a freedom we might not have had before. This doesn’t mean we should drop all of our culture’s values and beliefs - but we don’t always need to hold on to them either. So relocation is at once a wonderful, but sometimes confronting, opportunity for examining who we want to be and which emotional luggage and beliefs we want to carry in the future.
We all have many internalized beliefs, which often come from our parents and society. We say (or think) these statements of belief constantly and they subconsciously influence us in what we allow ourselves and what we don’t. Sometimes we can even feel trapped because our wishes don’t match our assimilated beliefs. On the other hand, we may start to question them when we’re far away from their origin. We can take this time of a new beginning to explore these beliefs and roles to decide if we wish to follow them or not. It may help to have some guidance through this process as this can be quite challenging. But, in the end it can also be highly rewarding.
Julia Söllner is a psychologist and coach who sees German-speaking clients at Body & Soul’s locations across Shanghai.She uses a solutions-based approach to assist clients in sorting through various issues to embrace possibilities. She helps clients access a range of tools for improved communication, self-awareness and stress management. If you’d like to evaluate your emotional luggage and create the path you desire, contact Body & Soul to make a consultation appointment with Julia.