Posted in Social Work

“He took All his baggage with him”: Emotional Baggage

The idea of emotional baggage can sound either cheesy or exhausting, however I am here to share how it can really put things into perspective when working with teens. I recently found myself doing a series on emotional baggage with a group teens that create discussions around why processing is effective and healthy. At one point in our lives we have encountered a situation that has created a “permanent” spot in our cart of problems and messes. As professionals we have learned to deal with them in healthy ways, however many teens have not. Being a teen is already filled with problems of dramatic teen angst and school dances, however adding trauma, broken homes, poverty, and substance abuse creates a whole world of problems that only some people will come to ever know or understand.

Understanding emotional baggage and its impact on your life allows for individuals to see the positive intentions for using substances or participating in destructive behaviors. It gives them a perspective that was either buried or clouded by their own irrational thoughts to processing. In discussing emotional baggage I found that it was helpful to sum it up with a comic strip found at the begging of this post.  Physically runaway doesn’t solve many of the problems that have become rooted mentally. Using tactics such as distraction or escape also are only temporary approaches.

Group Approaches I’ve found useful:

  • Using actual suitcases or bags to mirror the physical weight of emotional baggage
  • Writing your emotional baggage on luggage tags and clipping on to a suitcase
  • Connecting feeling to situations and discussing the benefits and cost to discussing them ( Cost Benefit Analysis)



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