Pamela Levin, R.N., T.S.T.A., Editor
Who wouldn't want more
emotional freedom? Imagine yourself with
- less emotional disturbance,
- fewer anxious thoughts,
- reduced emotional reactions,
- greater emotional health,
- more self esteem and confidence,
- improved social ease,
- more comfortable in your own skin.
this greater mental and physical health is out of reach for too many people. Take the fact that in
any given year, 1 in 4 Americans experience an emotional
disorder! ( U.S.Department of Health and Human Services. Mental
Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, Md.,Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services
Administration, Center for Mental Health Services,1999, pp. 408409,
you were to ask any one of them, "What is emotional freedom?" they probably wouldn't know how
to answer. Yet ask that same person if they would like to have greater emotional freedom, and you'd
likely get a resounding, "Yes!"
Clearly, the need is great, but know-how is lacking, For most people, even
considering how to go about creating it can seem daunting, even overwhelming. How do you move from, say,
emotional rigidity to flexibility, from emotional hyper-reactivity to normal responsiveness, or emotional
deadness to feeling what you feel?
A short answer is found by breaking emotional freedom into its
six central aspects listed below and then addressing them using the pointers that
The Six Facets of Emotional
The Freedom to
BE. This is all about releasing yourself from false
constraints that put conditions on your right to exist and to need what you need and feel what you
Freedom to EXPLORE & DEVELOP YOUR SENSORY SELF. This aspect is about emancipating your sensory
self to see what you see, to smell what you smell, to hear, to taste, to touch and to move your body so
that you can gain a sensory-motor knowledge of the world.
The Freedom to Be SEPARATE & THINK FOR
YOURSELF. This is about liberating yourself so you can know and have
your own thoughts, to think your
own thoughts and to be and become your own person in
all your individual uniqueness.
The Freedom to CREATE YOUR OWN
IDENTITY. Instead of deriving your sense of who you
are and where you belong in the world from others' definitions or from your own history, in this area you
focus on discovering the ever-evolving person you are and are becoming, with your own place in the social
The Freedom to ESTABLISH & DEVELOP
YOUR OWN SKILLS AND VALUES. This is where you
develop your own personal skills and values - the ones you need to get along in the world based on your
previous identity decisions.
The Freedom to Become a COMPLETE HUMAN
means integrating the different component parts of yourself into one functioning whole, harmonizing the
different parts of yourself so you can function as a whole adult.
Pointers for Developing Your Emotional Freedom
1. Accept that you, like
every other human beings, have each of
these areas as key aspects of your emotional makeup.
You can no more deny or change them than you can deny or change your need for air. You may not like
one or more of these aspects of yourself; you may find some inconvenient or even downright painful, but
those are different issues. Like it or not, your emotional self is made of these six areas
and you have all six,
not just some. You will never be free OF them; instead your emotional freedom lies WITHIN them.
Therefore take responsibility for each and every one of
2. Greet these aspects of
yourself as perfectly normal. Despite the fact that one or more of them may be something you'd rather not
have to address or manage; nonetheless each of them is an absolutely normal part of your make-up as a human
being. None of them is pathological or weird or a cause for guilt or shame. Yes, perhaps there
are weird ways people might approach these aspects of their emotional selves, but that's
about how they set about dealing with them, and not to do with their emotional make-up
itself. You are free to determine your own attitude toward each of these parts of your emotional self
even if someone else pressures you to do otherwise.
3. Turn your attention and
activities to each one in turn as it ascends in your
awareness . To try to attend to them all at once would
be overwhelming, and could lead to defeat for all of them. Instead, which of these is at the
forefront for you right now, in this moment? Attend to that, and then in the next moment, attend to
the one that takes precedence in that moment. For example, as
you read this and tune in to yourself, perhaps you realize you're thirsty, hungry, tired or need a
hug. Your emotional self wants you to attend to you BEING needs. Getting interrupted all
the time so it's hard to finish this? Your emotional self is signalling you to establish some
boundaries as part of your need to BE SEPARATE & THINK FOR YOURSELF.
4.Each of the above areas has
particular activities that promote its growth, health and well-being. In psychology, these are called
'developmental tasks.' Carrying out these tasks in each area is how you develop your emotional
freedom. They are not anything that can be done for you, but rather they need to be
done by you.
Returning to the above examples, if you're thirsty, YOU need to drink water; if you're hungry it's YOU that
needs to eat; if you're tired YOU are the one who needs to sleep. And if you're facing constant
interruptions, it's YOU that needs to draw some boundaries. You're the only one who knows your limits and
when enough is enough for YOU.
5.Each of these six areas of
emotional freedom has particular messages that act like emotional nutrients in that they feed that part so
you develop emotional freedom in healthy ways. This is no different than the fact that bones require
calcium to be healthy, for example, or connective tissue needs vitamin C, or nerves require whole food B
vitamins. Each aspect of your emotional make-up also has its unique emotional nutritional
Returning to the two examples
above, one of the key messages your emotional BEING wants to be fed is, "You have a right to be here."
(when said by another), or "I have a right to be here." (when you say it internally to yourself.) And that
boundary-making part of you loves to hear "It's OK to be separate and think for yourself. You don't
have to take care of other people by thinking for them." Or, internally, "It's OK for me to be
separate and think for myself. I don't have to take care of other people by thinking for
6. Don't take in toxic messages,
and if you find you have, eliminate them as quickly as possible. Why? If you feed your body a diet of
emotional junk food you'll watch your health come crashing down. If you feed your emotional self a
diet of junk messages, you'll watch your emotional health crumble.