Unpacking your emotional baggage, at any age, can be a scary proposition. This is especially true for those of us over 60.
You may feel called to do so and yet, there likely arises a number of reasons you convince yourself it is best to leave it alone.
Many people who avoid unpacking their emotional baggage, say it is because they’re afraid of what they will discover. Perhaps you can relate.
In my personal experience, and my research on this topic over the last decade, the number one reason it feels scary is that you have to now take responsibility for the contents.
In this second article of a four-part series on Unpacking Your Emotional Baggage After 60, we are going to look at the role inner maturity plays in strengthening your resolve to unpack your emotional baggage.
A person’s maturity level is generally measured by a combination of age, life experiences, accomplishments, and behavior.
Although these can serve as quantifiable benchmarks for a person’s maturity, they are all surface level. None of them provide an accurate picture of what is going on inside, therefore, they do not provide the full picture of what is true maturity.
For example, a person can use their age, life experiences, and accomplishments as a façade to mask highly underdeveloped levels of inner maturity.
This includes being adept at behaving in ways publicly that appear to be mature on the surface, but within they are overwhelmed with fear, anger, resentment, anxiousness, and depression.
For someone with an underdeveloped level of inner maturity, it leaves them without the strength or grounded bravery to look inside their emotional baggage, let alone unpack what is in there.
Another way this shows up is pointing to the outer world as the cause and solution to our sense of well-being. It also makes it easier to critique other people for their emotional baggage while having a blind spot for our own.
So, how do we identify this blind spot within ourselves and begin to reclaim and develop our inner maturity?
Poet Paule Marshall once wrote, “Sometimes a person has to go back, really back – to have a sense, an understanding, of all that’s gone to make them – before they can go forward.”
Going back to what shaped us into who we are today is an important step in unpacking one’s emotional baggage. This is not about rehashing uncomfortable moments.
It is about taking a trip back to childhood and letting ourselves off the hook for things we literally had no control over. As children, we had little to no means of protecting ourselves against traumatic experiences.
Equally damaging was the lack of support and understanding to make sense of difficult to process experiences. While our bodies and intelligence grew, the trauma framed within these experiences and emotions remained stuffed into a metaphorical suitcase.
Without a conscious approach to heal from within, coupled with timely and professional support required for that level of healing, repressed emotions and experiences of childhood were glossed over as we aged.
Besieged with the influence of the Seven Myths of Love & Happiness™, which had us fighting for survival, and seeking for love, happiness, and well-being outside of ourselves, the contents in our emotional baggage increased.
As the weight of this grew, so did the influence and power of our inner critic.
Everyone’s childhood experiences are unique and so too will be your process for when you unpack your emotional baggage. There is, however, one guaranteed thing all of us will see in the mirror of our past compared to life today.
The power and control that others had over our life as a child is gone. Another thing that is over is the disempowered hopelessness of relying on the approval of others.
Today, you are an empowered woman with decades of incredible life experiences of your own choosing.
These experiences have given you the strength, resolve, and bravery to know you can make choices in your life without other people’s approval. You also know you can overcome any life obstacle.
Maya Angelou may have said it best when she wrote, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
At this stage of your life, if you desire to relieve yourself of the excess weight and burden of your emotional baggage, you will have to take full responsibility for what is in there.
This requires not only quieting the influence of your inner critic, but also to stop bargaining with the contents you know you want to get rid of.
This is your moment to do better. Not because someone encouraged you to. Not because of what you read in this article.
But because if you desire something more in your life, such as feeling better about who you are, this is the ideal moment to call on your inner maturity and create the space to be, do, and have all that your heart desires.
If not you, who? If not now, when?
In the companion video for this article, I share additional insights on this timely topic and guide you through three empowering journal prompts to help you integrate what you have learned.
Have you looked at the insides of your emotional baggage? What is hiding in there and are you scared of it? Do you think you are ready to take responsibility for it?