The Emotional 🎒 Backpack

Why are some relationships more difficult than others? Some people are easy to be around while some people are more challenging? What is the difference maker? How are we approaching these more difficult relationships?

🎒We all travel through life with an imaginary backpack, the “emotional backpack”. As we go through life experiences we gather emotional memories in our backpacks. Positive experiences result in light and happy emotions, while negative experiences like trauma or grief, can result in heavy emotional backpacks. Whatever our experiences, the people around us influence how we respond to our backpacks.

🎒An unhealthy family of origin isn’t equipped with the tools to show us how to recognize and unpack our emotional backpacks. This pattern leaves us with a heavy backpack as we enter adulthood. As an emotionally weighted down adult we tend to seek relationships that ease our backpack burden. We don’t understand that the backpack has been weighing us down the whole time. We are simply uncomfortable and desire emotional relief.

🎒The difficult relationships that result from emotionally heavy backpacked individuals giving their backpack to a more healthy individual can quickly develop into a toxic relationship. Boundaries are the crux of establishing all healthy relationship. They give us permission to say “no thank you” to someone handing us their emotional backpack, while we tend to our own backpack. We cannot carry the emotional load of others but we can help them recognize the backpack; take it off; and unpack it themselves. This process can be done through many actions: counseling, self-care, hobbies, exercise, and personal growth. Even if you have not yet unpacked your own backpack, it is never too late to learn how the process works. Continuing life travels with a lighter backpack may just enrich your journey.

About Jessica Ulmer, LPC, NCC

Licensed Professional Counselor for Morning Star Counseling, LLC in Lancaster, Pa. Office locations are East Petersburg and Quarryville.
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