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  • Writer's pictureK.C. Dreisbach, LMFT

How Emotional Baggage Holds You Back

Updated: Apr 8, 2022

Each choice has the power to move you forward, set you back, or leave you stagnant. If you’ve been reading along over the last several weeks, then you know I’ve been talking a lot about CHANGE and the Power of One. I’ve taken the time to break it down and help you understand that every great success is achieved by focusing on ONE STEP at a time. That means that every amazing goal you have set for yourself, no matter how big, is conquered by embracing the Power of One philosophy. It really is that simple.

Over the last several weeks, I’ve shared how the concept behind the Power of One and continuous improvement work together. I’ve discussed how CHANGE is an ACTIVE STATE. It requires you making an ACTIVE CHOICE in the PRESENT MOMENT. We jumped into how your past is NOT an anchor holding you in place, but just the “wake of your life.” And we started digging into how your life is driven by PRESENT POWER- the choices you make at any given moment in present time. It’s time to build on that idea now.

But before you move on, make sure you read my previous posts that build up to this one! Trust me, it all makes way more sense that way. Check them out:

Ok, now that you've done that, let's keep building on these concepts!

I was with a client last week, and we were reviewing these ideas in a live session together. She said, “I like this idea and I’m totally on board with it, but what I don’t understand is HOW. In that moment when I need to make a different choice, I keep making the same reactive choices. I don’t WANT to make the same choice… but I feel like I make it anyway. HOW do I stop REACTING and making the same choices?”

LOVE THIS QUESTION. And it’s an EXCELLENT question because ultimately, every single one of us struggles with being reactive. Simply put, reactivity is a symptom of our emotional baggage. Yup, that’s right! We’ve all got emotional baggage. Some of us are walking around with little backpacks and a whole lot us are walking around with 8 bags that are way over the weight limit to get on the freakin’ plane. And THIS is why so many of us believe our past is an anchor.

Every time you become reactive to something, that should be a red flag that pops up in your head and lets you know you have some sort of emotional pain that needs healing. Whether you’re reacting to the news, talking to a friend, or getting pissed off at someone’s social media post… that’s emotional baggage. There’s a hurt within you from somewhere in your life that stings every time you poke it. And that’s what’s happening when you get reactive. Someone (or something) just poked your emotional hurt.

That emotional hurt causes a slew of all too familiar feelings (anger, jealousy, sadness, anxiety, worthlessness, helplessness, etc.). And those emotions are what take over control. And when those emotions are in control, you WILL become reactive. You might say things you don’t mean, do things you wish you hadn’t, or give up on something you shouldn’t have.

This is why people believe their past controls them, but it doesn’t. Remember, the past is just the wake of your life, the wake of your boat sailing over the water. Even though your past might have left you wounded, you still have the POWER to make a different choice in the present moment. But that brings us back to the question of: How?

This is where support comes in. It’s hard to work through emotional baggage on your own. That’s where booking an appointment with a therapist, a life coach, or joining a support group can be so helpful. These people help you learn when you’re being reactive and help you develop skills to neutralize that reactivity. This, in turn, helps you make better choices with PRESENT POWER.

When I work with my clients, it’s all about learning to be mindful- keeping yourself focused on the present moment. And here’s the secret to that: it’s all about learning to LISTEN to your body. Your body tells you EVERYTHING you need to know! I teach my clients to recognize their body’s warning signs, which in turn, allows them to tune in to that reactivity WAY before it ever becomes a problem.

Imagine that? Imagine being able to recognize that you’re starting to get angry WAY before you ever FEEL the anger. What would that do for you?

For me? It helps me fight back those “Angry Mommy” moments with my kids. It helps me keep my cool when other people throw “low blows” in an attempt to make me react. It helps me refrain from saying or doing things I wish I hadn’t when I’m arguing with my husband (which means our arguments are few and far between AND they’re SUPER productive whenever we do have them).

I’m telling you… harness your POWER of ONE, embrace your PRESENT POWER, and learn to listen to your body so can ACT versus REACT. That’s the secret.

I hope you found yourself inspired by this post. Join my newsletter for more tips, life hacks, and inspirational messages. And if you want MY help, send me a message and let's schedule some time to chat. I'm here to help YOU reach your goals.

Stay inspired!


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Krystal Dreisbach is a licensed therapist, mindset coach, adjunct professor of counseling, and published author.  Her specialties include depression treatment, anxiety counseling, stress management support, and mindset coaching.  Learn more about Krystal and see how she can help you live a better life.

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