I recently used that phrase when talking with a dear friend about unresolved issues within my family. It is interesting—and challenging—to me how present issues can ignite a spark of a distant memory and launch it into the present moment. It feels as if I have gone excavating for the largest rocks at the bottom of the well only dig up the heaviest rocks and put them in my bag. And so I carry on with a heavy load of useless burdens.

I suppose it is a blessing and a curse to be so keenly aware of what is going on with me emotionally. Being aware that I have a bag of burdens is the step in the right direction. The family pain hasn’t fully healed for me because I’ve never been able to say my piece. And that has gravely affected my peace. Because I’ve been treated as if my voice doesn’t matter, I fight to create a safe place for communication and openness, allowing everyone’s voice to be heard.

Are there unresolved issues in your life?

How do you move forward? I believe it is important to move forward yet, I think it is essential to know what to do with “the it” we’re moving away from. I have never believed that simply “moving on” would make everything better.

The ABC’s of Moving Forward

A = The stage where ‘the painful event’ happened.

B = Acknowledging what happened. Feeling the feelings. Transform your feelings about the incident into a healthy perspective. Sometimes we can’t do this alone. It’s ok to reach out for help.

C = Moving forward. I believe this stage can only happen if step B has taken place. From my experience of being a part of a dysfunctional family, denying what happened and having my feelings minimized only added further pain. For example, something would happen, I’d express my feelings about it, then another family member would say something like, “Julie, just move on”; “That shouldn’t bother you.”; “Don’t be say you’re mad. Just say you’re a little frustrated.” And there I was left holding the bag. The bag of my own emotions. No one else was interested in talking it out or hearing my feelings about the situation. Oh, and God forbid there would be an apology.

If the step “B” doesn’t happen, the “B” turns into baggage. Baggage that we hold onto and that holds us back.

What are you holding onto that is dragging you down and holding you back from moving forward into a positive, joyful life?

What I must do for myself is to:

~ drop the bag of insignificance.

~ drop the bag of unworthiness.

~ drop the bag of the past hurts.

There are many tools and methods available to us that can lead us to healing. Perhaps finding a coach or therapist you can trust and who will offer tools to help you move through step “B” will be a step in the right direction for you. Connect with people who value you for who you are today. Although it may be difficult at first, disconnecting from those who are toxic to your happiness and overall well-being may be necessary. This may even include disconnecting from your family of origin.

There are also helpful resources within this Positive Psychology People web site that may be helpful to you. However you choose to move forward, be sure to love yourself in the process.

About the author: Julie Ostrow is the Humor, Laughter, and Improv Coach and is the First-Ever American Laughing Champion. She coaches groups and corporations how to use humor, laughter, and improv techniques to improv communication, connection, creativity, and collaboration. www.GoFindTheFunny.com


‘We are the Positive Psychology People’

Find out more about positive psychology courses and training at 

Share This