6 Ways To Release Baggage From Old Relationships

Coming to terms with the end of a relationship, particularly one in which you’ve been emotionally invested, can be a painful and difficult experience and can bring about some unsettling emotions. If these emotions are not properly addressed, they can fester over time and turn into emotional baggage that stunts your growth and hinders your ability to move on with your life.


Depending on whether or not the relationship was a long-term one and if the break-up was mutual and/or amicable, the thought of letting go and moving on can seem daunting.  In order to be able to make the transition as stress-free and as seamless as possible, is it is important that you are able to grieve in a way that is healthy, allowing you to leave any toxic feelings that you may have been harbouring behind and to keep them from resurfacing in the future.

Here are 6 ways to successfully release emotional baggage from old relationships:

1) Confront Your Feelings

Don’t try to suppress them or avoid them. In order to get past the pain of a break-up, whether romantic of otherwise, you must allow yourself to process all those emotions that surface, and that means allowing yourself to feel. Avoiding those feelings would be like taking Tylenol for a cavity. It may ease the pain for a while but eventually it will come back — and with a vengeance.  As uncomfortable as it may be at first, confronting your feelings head on is the first step in the cathartic process that will bring about healing and closure, which is the only way to keep them from resurfacing later on.

2) Don’t Play The Blame Game

Whether or not the break-up was mutual, it can be tempting to place blame on the other party, or yourself, to justify why things ended. Not only is placing blame a negative thought pattern, it is also highly counterproductive. The fact is that the relationship has ended for whatever reason and you will have to move on sooner or later. But the sooner, the better. There is no point in over-analyzing every detail of the relationship to see who did what to whom. Placing blame only keeps you holding on to potentially toxic feelings that should not be carried with as you move forward to the next chapter of your life.  

3) Forgive

Forgiveness is probably the most important step of moving past any experience where you feel that you’ve been wronged. Holding on to a grudge feeds the ego by keeping you resentful of the past, and inhibits your ability to move toward the future. In order to forgive, you must put your ego aside. It means letting go of any anger or resentment and making the decision to not feed into any ill-conceived emotions. Once you have truly forgiven, the journey forward becomes a whole lot easier. And lighter.

4) Embrace Change

It is human nature to be anxious about new situations, especially when you’ve been so comfortable with the way things were.  After a relationship ends, especially a long term one, you tend to cling to the past in fear of the uncertainty that lies ahead. It can be even more difficult if you’re still holding on to negative feelings that are clouding your judgment. Being open to change means you’re no longer holding on to what was and you are ready for what is to come.  You must always be mindful that in order for growth to occur, change must occur first. Embrace the change. Change is good.

5) Work On Yourself

Often times we seek to numb the pain of old experiences by throwing ourselves into new ones too soon. In this case, trying to get over an old relationship by jumping into another one. It is important to allow yourself the time to heal. Do yoga, meditate, start a cooking class. Nurturing yourself – mind, body and spirit – will allow you to cultivate a healthy sense of self which is important in order to achieve closure and to prepare for the journey ahead.

6) Let Go

Letting go doesn’t mean forgetting. It means acknowledging, accepting and choosing to not let the past define your future. It means no longer giving power to all the negative emotions that you’ve been lugging around. It means not feeding the ego. You cannot move forward if you keep glancing backwards. After all is said and done, in order to truly release emotional baggage that has been weighing you down, you have to choose to let it go.

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Alicia is a full-time freelance writer/blogger and aspiring multi-hyphenate. She was born in Toronto, raised in Jamaica and now calls Montreal home. She has a background in Broadcast-Journalism and a Ph.D in make believe. When she’s not busy writing or curating digital content, she’s bumping old school reggae, doling out advice or brushing up on her couch potato skills. She lives in the Plateau with her boyfriend, son and cat.