Emotional baggage holds back so many would-be entrepreneurs it’s shocking the international medical community doesn’t treat this phenomenon the same as any other disease.
And while there are many stories of people overcoming the kind of baggage that manifests chronic negativity and lack of self confidence, a handful of narratives stand out. One, a story of a man named Ananda, stars a successful businessman who accumulated millions of dollars in wealth over the course of his lifetime. Everything was fine until 2012 when Ananda was 55. He experienced a devastating stroke in spite of a perfect health record. He lost his speech, couldn’t walk and had to embark on a slow road to recovery.
When Ananda finally took the advice of his wife to take it easy, and sold half of his $35 million company, he realized his stroke was the result of a familial pattern of workaholism. Every man in his family followed the pattern. Accumulating wealth through overworking, then falling ill in middle age. Ananda’s uncle had died at age 55—the same age when Ananda had his stroke.
As this dramatic story demonstrates, emotional baggage—the patterns and habits we learn in our earlier years and carry with us as we age—is a hugely influencing factor in the quality of our lives and the choices we make. What we learn in early life affect us both personally and professionally. While this is sometimes a good thing, negative habits and belief sets can ultimately lead to our demise.
“If you don’t address emotional baggage, you will be stymied in your growth,” says MindShift.money Specialist Sundardas Dharmadas Annamalay. He is the naturopathic medicine doctor who treated Ananda several years ago. “But [when] you design your life in a conscious way, you can change your focus and productivity.”
Sundardas, who is based in Singapore, has seen firsthand how clearing deep-rooted emotional baggage can turn someone’s life around. Clearing up the past, and existing beliefs rooted in past traumas, is the most important thing a person can do to build a new life. In fact, this is so important to him that helping others do this is at the heart of his coaching practice.
Over the last several years, he’s helped dozens of clients clear up the mental issues blocking their success. Now their businesses are thriving, and they’re living healthy and happy lives.
But what constitutes emotional baggage, and what does it mean to “let go” of it? Understanding the answer to these questions will help you unlock your truest potential.
How We Develop Baggage In The First Place
One of the easiest ways to think about emotional baggage is as a byproduct of the “emotional blueprint” formed in the first seven years of your life.
“Your Blueprint decides whether you are going to be rich, happy and successful or poor, unhappy and sick,” says Sundardas. “The primary critical periods of your life involved the establishment of imprints determining beliefs about biological survival, emotional attachments and well-being, intellectual dexterity, social role, aesthetic appreciation and meta-cognition or the awareness of one’s own thought processes.”
A number of psychologists and great thinkers, such as Austrian zoologist, ethologist and behavioral scientist Konrad Lorenz, believed imprints are established at certain neurologically critical periods. Lorenz said once the critical periods passed in your early years, they aren’t subject to change. In other words, if you’re a saver of money, you probably inherited that tendency from someone close (say, your mother or father) and are more inclined to save than spend.
However, if you spent your toddler years surrounded by insecure, angry adults, you may feel insecure in your endeavors later on.
How To Let Go Of Bad Baggage
Because he has helped many clients let go of past traumas, Sundardas knows how tough it can be. On a personal level, he was born with crippling congenital birth defects that required surgeries. These medical procedures led to speech disabilities, a hearing handicap and brain damage and an eventual diagnosis of autism. But it wasn’t until he truly believed these events didn’t have to shape who he was that change happened.
Decades later, Sundardas believes his ability to help clients tap into lifelong layers of pain makes a huge difference. Specifically, two of the most effective techniques he utilizes to help entrepreneurs and other individuals succeed include 1.) helping them recognize self-doubt; and 2.) helping them give themselves permission to succeed.
One of the keys to changing is first recognizing thoughts of doubt like “I’m not smart enough to be successful” and then tracing these thoughts to their origins: Were you told at a young age that you weren’t smart by parents or teachers? You may not even remember the circumstance that left an imprint on your psyche and caused you to have recurring feelings of doubt. Either way, recognizing and arresting a doubtful thought is the first step to minimizing impact.
Another key element of clearing emotional baggage is moving forward. The right coach helps patients not only let go of past traumas, but also provides the opportunity or “permission” to succeed without backlash.
“Many participants in my program have also found that they are repeating old family patterns,” he says. “Their lives changed when they changed these patterns.”
image credit: Bigstock/sandipruel
This is a sponsored post that is part of our Expert’s Elevation Program. All thoughts and opinions expressed on MindShift.money articles are our own. To learn more about Dr. Sundardas Annamalay, please visit our Specialist Panel.
Marisa Torrieri is an award-winning journalist and freelance writer specializing in personal finance, business, healthcare and technology. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and resides in Fairfield, CT. Her work has appeared in dozens of media outlets, including LearnVest, Forbes, The Washington Post, Business Insider, TIME and Health.com.