Emotional baggage is a metaphorical term implying a "load" that people carry with them. It means that negative feelings we have not let go of are affecting present behaviour and mindsets. That can be the pain of disappointment or rejection, trauma, any kinds of distressing previous experiences and their memories. Emotional baggage comes to the fore in relationships and is often rooted in childhood. This is where the beauty of the Bach remedies comes in. Using them, we ask “how do I feel?" Honest answers will uncover emotional baggage and lead to resolving it, for we alone carry our baggage, no one else. And we alone can let it go.
Here are five remedies, briefly described, that came to mind while I was thinking about this topic. Certainly, there are more and I'd love to hear your thoughts!
- Someone who carries a state of shame and guilt with themselves has a Pine state.There have been shocking revelations about child abuse in the Church recently. Many victims kept quiet for years and the abuse must have had a major effect on their ability to have happy and satisfying personal relationships. One gets an inkling of what kind of trauma and "emotional baggage" the victims must have carried (and perhaps still carry). Pine helps get over shameful, guilty, self-reproachful feelings. Photo: the flowers of the pine tree, Pinus sylvestris
- A child who has lost a parent during childhood may carry a continual fear throughout their life about others they are close to - their children, partners, the remaining parent - that something may also happen to these people too. Red Chestnut helps us relax and develop trust that everyone has their own journey in life and that we can only influence it to a certain extent. We have calm thoughts towards loved ones in a positive Red Chestnut state, not worried ones. Photo: the flowers of the red chestnut tree, Aesculus x carnea
- Many people carry a lifelong resentment towards their parents. In the negative Willow state one feels one is a victim and it is their parents fault that one has problems, feels bitter and resentful. (And no, I guess no one has perfect parents, and no one is a perfect parent either!) Willow helps heal, forgive and forget and develop a mature, constructive relationship with parents. Photo: flowers of the willow tree, Salix vitellina
- Some children learn to withdraw early in life if their parents or teachers are critical, dismissive or aggressive. Later in life a person who has not learnt to talk about their feelings might clam up when difficulties arise. Which in turn creates more difficulties. This is the negative Water Violet state and it makes us feel protected in isolation; others cannot reach or hurt us. It is the remedy of choice if one withdraws in emotionally challenging situations, resisting others getting close to us. Water Violet helps reduce aloneness and nourishes the ability to connect with others. Photo: the flowers of the water violet herb, Hottonia palustris
- Another pattern that can develop in childhood when a young person is repeatedly confronted with critical comments or aggression from attachment figures is the habit of brushing over difficulties. One learns to make small of problems, humouring those around with false cheeriness, avoiding the real issues because it hurts too much. This strategy leads to lack of authenticity and estrangement from one's true self. Agrimony is the remedy of choice if this kind of habit has developed. It helps us become the person we really are. Photo: the flowers of agrimony, Agrimonia europaea