Lugging heavy bags through the airport is hard enough—why live like that on the daily? Everyone walks through life with some form of emotional baggage. Whether you have unresolved issues from your childhood or you’ve never been able to shake the pain from a bad romance, holding on to old feelings that no longer serve you can really get in the way of living your best life.

Wanna learn how to finally free yourself of the baggage you’ve been carrying around? Here are five ways.

1. Own it

First things first: acknowledge that you have some bad blood you need to release. Have no shame about it—whatever happened in your past is part of what makes you who you are. But recognize that feelings aren’t facts. They don’t have to define you at all. When you realize this, it becomes a lot easier to let go.

Owning your resentments means acknowledging your own role in the situation, too. Taking responsibility for some of the pain you’ve endured is a powerful thing. Sometimes it might even help to make amends with people who’ve hurt you, and whom you’ve hurt. But if you’re not up to calling your ex and raising the white flag, that’s totally fine! Being at peace within yourself is enough.  

2. Create a ritual to manifest your release

Performing a ritual can give you an opportunity to actively practice letting go. One approach: start a journal. Studies have shown that writing is therapeutic. Jotting your thoughts and feelings down on paper (or even in a Word processor, of course) can help you sort through your emotions, put them into perspective, and ultimately understand yourself better. It can also be a relief to physically discard these thoughts and feelings—rip that page out of your journal, ball it up, and toss it in the trash. Bye, baggage.

3. Experience emotional breakthroughs through yoga

Not only can yoga ease tension in your body and mind, but certain poses can even facilitate your emotional release. Traditionally, yogis believe a lot of our emotions get stored in the hips and heart. Working through these areas can allow old feelings to surface and flow through the chakras from the hips, where they’ve been lying dormant, to the heart, where love lives. (Aww.)

Whenever you feel weighed down, hit your favorite yoga class, or take some hip openers like pigeon and lizard poses at home. Don’t panic if these deep hip stretches bring you to tears—it’s normal and is proof that you’ve dislodged something you really needed to get out. Following up with heart openers like bow pose and wild thing can help you meet those feels with love and compassion. (Bonus points if you journal right after—it’s an ideal time to lay it all out and reflect.)

4. Use affirmations to shift your way of thinking

OK, this one might feel a little silly at first, but give it a shot. An affirmation is a positive statement that you repeat and write down frequently in order to ingrain it in your thoughts, feelings, and actions. You can formulate your own based on what works for your specific experience, but here are some ideas:

  • “I am letting go.” Say this every time you notice old stuff coming up.
  • “I am good enough.” If past issues have you convinced that there’s something wrong with you, remember that no matter where you are on your journey, you are good enough.
  • “I am free to live my best life.” Believe that you are free to find happiness—and you deserve it.
  • “I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned.” Try to find something positive in everything you’ve been through. Even earth-shattering breakups and debilitating losses can be an opportunity to learn something new about yourself.

5. Try therapy

Can we just say that therapy is awesome? As intimidating as it might seem to some people, seeking help is not about being “crazy.” It just means you’re ready to really show up for yourself, and that’s huge. But it’s not a quick fix—sometimes it takes weeks, months, or years to find resolutions, and that’s totally okay. Practice patience and be ready and willing to put new behaviors and thoughts into action. In due time, you’ll feel like a lighter, brighter version of yourself.

Share your personal stories in the comments below. <3