How to Release ‘Emotional Baggage’ and the Tension That Goes with It


In the journey of life, we often accumulate emotional baggage, a weight that we carry with us, born from past traumas and negative experiences. This invisible burden can manifest in how we carry ourselves, affecting our relationships, careers, and overall well-being. However, there is hope, for just as we pack away these emotions, we also possess the power to release them.

In this guide, we will explore the art of shedding this emotional baggage and relieving the tension it brings, by acknowledging and connecting with our past experiences. Join us on a path to greater emotional freedom, where the baggage of the past no longer holds us back from a brighter and lighter future.

We all have feelings from past experiences, and if we don't deal with them, they stick around and can affect different parts of our lives:

1. How You See Yourself: Unresolved emotions can change how you feel about yourself.

2. Handling Stress: They can also make it harder to deal with stress.

3. Physical Health: Your body can be impacted by these emotions, leading to health issues.

4. Relationships: They might affect how you connect with others.

So, let's take a closer look at where these emotions get stuck and how to let them go.

What does it mean to have ‘trapped’ emotions?

You may have seen people get emotional during activities like yoga, massage, or acupuncture. Sometimes, touching specific areas on the body can bring up old feelings. While we can't say emotions are literally "trapped" in the body in a scientific way, the stress from past experiences can affect us physically.

This happens because our brain associates certain body areas with memories, often without us realizing it. So, when we touch those areas, it can bring up those memories and emotions. In simple terms, our emotions are like buttons, and touching certain parts of our body can push those buttons, making us feel things from the past.
Some people think that trauma and tough emotions can get stuck in the body as trapped energy, even though science doesn't fully support this idea.

According to Bradley Nelson, trapped emotions can make the tissues around them vibrate in a similar way. It's like they're on the same wavelength.

Nelson explains in his book, "The Emotion Code," that each trapped emotion has its own spot in the body and a unique frequency. He suggests that this might attract more of the same emotion, creating a kind of buildup or blockage.

However, it's important to note that this idea is still just a theory and needs more research to be proven.

How do emotions get trapped

Emotions and our physical health are closely connected. A good example is fear, which can trigger a "fight or flight" response in our bodies. This reaction shows how our emotions affect us physically. So, how do emotions get trapped? It's all about understanding how our feelings and our bodies are linked.

Sure, here are the key points in a simpler format:

 When you feel an emotion:

   - You experience an emotional vibration.

   - You feel the emotion, along with any related thoughts or physical sensations.

   - Normally, you process and move on from the emotion.

Emotional processing happens in the brain's limbic structures, and it's connected to the nervous system.

 Your nervous system informs your body how to feel in response to the information it receives.

 If the process is interrupted in the second or third step, the emotion's energy can get trapped in your body.

 This trapped energy can lead to issues like muscle tension, pain, or other physical problems.

When we talk about "trapped emotions," it often means that our real, genuine self wants to express something that our adapted, or false self, is trying to suppress. In psychology, we view the true self as the part of us we're born with, naturally open, curious, and trusting. The false self, on the other hand, develops as a way to cope with pain and loss.

Repressed negative emotions can come out as:

1. Holding grudges.

2. Making poor decisions.

3. Self-sabotage.

4. Overreacting to small things.

5. Feeling extra stressed and anxious.

6. Dealing with depression.

7. Struggling with fatigue.

Think of trapped emotions like lugging around a heavy backpack. It makes us feel heavy, affects our mood, and saps our energy. What's more, it can even harm our body tissues and stop our organs and glands from working properly. It's like a massive roadblock on the freeway, hindering the natural flow of our energy.

Trapped emotions and trauma

When we talk about trapped emotions, it's closely connected to trauma and how our brain deals with it. Trauma can happen to anyone and can come from things like breakups, big life changes, illness, loss of a loved one, infidelity, job loss, or experiences involving violence, discrimination, or racism. Trauma messes with our memory and can make us store these experiences as vivid images or strong bodily feelings.

Sometimes, these memories can suddenly come back, like a movie playing in our heads. This is called a flashback, and it's a way our brain deals with trauma. This can make it hard to heal because our brain keeps these memories separate from our regular thoughts.

In fact, people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can have a smaller part of their brain called the hippocampus, which deals with emotions and memories. Stress, which is a common part of trauma, can damage this area. This damage can make our bodies stay on high alert, even when we're not thinking about the traumatic event.

Where are trapped emotions stored in the body

Have you ever felt a tightness in your chest when you're anxious? Or perhaps you've noticed how good it feels to stretch your hips after a tough day?

Where people feel emotional tension or sensitivity in their bodies can vary. Some studies have tried to pinpoint where emotions are generally felt, but there's still more to learn.

In a 2013 study from Finland, a group of biomedical engineers asked about 700 people to color in areas of their body where they felt changes in response to different emotions. This study aimed to shed light on where emotions are experienced physically, but there's more research needed for clear conclusions.

Take anger, fear, and anxiety, for instance; they tend to make the chest and upper body more active. This might help explain sayings like "hot-headed" or "carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders." These emotions can activate the sympathetic nervous system, which leads to a fast physical response in your body. That's why your heart might race or your muscles tense up when you're feeling nervous or stressed.

How to release emotions from the body

Ever had the urge to cry, scream, laugh, or let out your emotions in some way? Many times, we're told to hide our pain and be strong, but this can cause us to suppress our feelings, a bit like avoiding them without even realizing it. In 2019, research found that holding in your emotions might weaken your immune system.

If you want to let these bottled-up emotions out, here are some simple ways:

1. Acknowledge your feelings:  Recognize what you're feeling, don't ignore it.

2. Work through trauma : Address past painful experiences.

3.  Try shadow work: Explore hidden or suppressed emotions.

4.  Move intentionally:  Engage in physical activities that help release emotions.

5.  Practice stillness: Find peace and clarity through relaxation techniques.


In conclusion, the path to releasing emotional baggage and the tension it brings begins with understanding that unprocessed emotions can get "stuck" in the body. It's crucial to know that the brain, especially its emotional processing centers, is where this all happens. While some parts of our body might feel tense due to emotional experiences, it's the brain that holds the key to emotions.

To unload this burden, you can use techniques like therapy, intentional movement, and shadow work. These methods help you process and let go of past traumas, which, in turn, eases the bodily tension associated with them. By actively dealing with your emotions, you can step into a brighter and lighter future, free from the weight of unresolved emotional baggage.

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