Emotional Baggage in the Workplace

Emotional Baggage in the Workplace

Emotional Baggage in Workplace

While being in our profession or at our workplace, we all may have felt nervous, anxious, even hopeless and desperate at some point or the other. We may have had multiple negative emotions knocking on the doors of our minds frantically while trying to focus on our work. This is what is termed emotional baggage. Emotional baggage, as defined by Collins Dictionary, is the feelings that one has about themselves, influenced by their past experiences and situations. More precisely, emotional baggage can be termed as those unresolved traumas, emotional issues, pains, and stressors that one may have experienced at some point in their lives and had taken up a larger chunk of space in their mind.

These always cause quite a havoc in defining one’s attitudes and behaviours in diverse situations. Emotional baggage in one’s life, if brought into the workplace, will cause quite a lot of trouble to the person’s performance within the company or institution. This can negatively affect your efficiency in collaborating and managing work at your workplace directly or indirectly.

Causes of Emotional Baggage

These unresolved conflicts that one may carry to their work desks may not necessarily be born in those spaces alone. Much of the baggage that an individual carries to their public lives is manufactured in the intricate walls of their childhood and adolescence. These stages of an individual’s life tend to remain decisive in terms of their character and personality development.

These stages almost lay a blueprint as to how the person will be throughout his or her lifetime. Unresolved childhood traumas, attachment issues with parents, peer problems etc, all shape an individual’s identity and hence could conveniently become a prime part of one’s emotional baggage. workplaces can also create these trauma and conflicts. Having to deal with uncooperative/ unenthusiastic coworkers, discouraging authorities or bosses, and facing instances of discrimination within the office spaces for one’s gender, caste, sexuality etc, can leave a huge mark on one’s life. Hence, these, in many circumstances, tend to play a pivotal organ in one’s emotional baggage

Consequences of Emotional Baggage at Workplaces

Carrying one’s emotional baggage to their workplace can lead one to express bouts of anger, frustration, and hopelessness during their work. these fits and bouts negatively affect one’s ability to interact and collaborate with their fellow teammates or authorities or even their subordinates. One of the major ways in which the baggage manifests itself is through bouts of unprocessed anger. The resentment that one may nurture against any other individual, if not treated well, may become a significant part of one’s emotional baggage.

This can later lead people to burn up a large amount of their energy which negatively affects their work performance. People with emotional baggage may also tend to inflict great doubt upon themselves. Their past experiences might provoke them to think low about their talents, values and abilities and hence they tend to believe that they are not as talented as their colleagues. This leads to a huge dearth in their self-esteem and self-concept. The decline that could occur in these aspects of an employee would never work in favour of the person’s desired career growth chart and this would always keep them from taking professional and personal risks.

Some experiences in a person’s life may also leave them in a position where they may feel guilty about trusting people. This provokes them to doubt and mistrust every personal and professional relationship they may ever embark upon. This greatly affects the professional life of the individual. They may doubt the intentions and morals of people who try to establish a relationship with them. Such initiatives are often perceived as advances driven by motives that would never benefit the other party. Thus, this continues sowing the seeds of mistrust in the form of a vicious cycle.

How can it be taken care of?

The most pivotal thing that an individual has to do while trying to cope with one’s emotional baggage is to understand their feelings. They have to acknowledge their feelings and emotions and assure themselves that there is nothing wrong or shameful in feeling them, rather they are very valid due to the circumstances they stem from. If they notice fatigue, bouts of anger, frustration, anxiety etc, rather than skimming through the feelings, they should remain open enough to stay with the feelings understanding that they arise due to the circumstances the person was once trapped in and hence they remain important enough to be addressed.

Then, these individuals should try and identify the positive goals and values that they would like to work and earn in their near future by finding a positive work environment or, if need be creating one. These people should try and find at least one genuine individual who could become their support system as they cope with the consequences of their emotional trauma. While mistrust is one of its exact consequences, advising the person to find someone to trust could be the epitome of irony.

However, the advice here is that they shouldn’t completely dismiss the idea of creating personal relationships with their colleagues. If they cannot find it, they should talk about their workplace problems to their family and friends for support. As cliché as it may sound, shifting one’s thinking paradigm can also actually help one to cope with their emotional baggage, this helps them to deal with them without having to paralyze the individual emotionally or mentally.


Everyone owns their fair share of emotional baggage which may stem from the plethora of experiences they may face in their lives and these can humiliating, discouraging, scary, anxiety-provoking etc. it is a very human characteristic to find it hard to let these traumas go as well because as human beings, we tend to find it hard to untangle these complex emotions. But once we feel that this is overstepping limits and calls for an urgent mend, one should carefully remove or reduce its influence on one’s life.

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