Collins English Dictionary defines emotional baggage as:
I know that at 56, I have a full set of my own baggage. I try to keep it in check, but my past is my past, and it cannot be changed. Thus, I will carry it forever. It may weigh me down at times as any heavy load might. At this juncture, I know I can’t hope to meet anyone without baggage. We can seek out people who may have lighter loads to carry than others. The best we can hope for is simply finding someone who can help us “unpack” our bags and accept those parts of our past which may negatively impact our present because we all have emotional baggage.
I have found that many in my age group have a natural tendency to “unpack” when someone is willing to help. I listen to many stories from friends and even new acquaintances about very personal things.
I sat and listened to Rex unload a long story about a girlfriend from many years ago who had a son. She believed her son was limiting the progression of their relationship so she sent him to live with his father in another state. Rex tried to persuade her not to do this because he believed it would be a mistake. There was a long story here that had nothing to do with the present situation, but it was clear Rex had not finished processing what happened so many years later. The girlfriend died some years after they broke up, so it must have seemed safe to share her personal story as there could be no repercussions for her anymore.
My way of helping others process, or unpack, is to listen with an empathetic ear. They just need to tell the story sometimes. I know I do the same thing. I describe my own feelings about my past and the things that have happened to me without expectation of any outcome from the conversation other than to unload the story. The bags are still there, but they are a little less heavy.