“Emotional freedom is a homecoming to your own heart and fullest power. It salutes authenticity, not conforming to someone else’s notion of what to feel or how to be.” —Dr. Judith Orloff, author of the New York Times bestseller Emotional Freedom: Liberate yourself from negative emotions and transform your life (2009)
The middle of the night, before you can fall asleep or early morning thoughts that swirl and fuel agitation, worry and fear preventing you from falling asleep.
The feeling of being lonely and falling prey to the purport by society that the simple solution is to find someone to be romantically involved with.
Ratcheted chronic anxiety that cements you from pursuing something new or chasing your dreams or simply enjoying your everyday life.
An assumed negative default in perspective when it comes to the world, the future, especially your future and what is actually possible no matter what your age.
In sharing each of these scenarios, maybe you most strongly identified with one, or maybe none of them spoke to you, but moments of one or two rear their heads in your life when your energy is depleted or life temporarily becomes exhausting. And hopefully, maybe you recognize your former self in one or more of these and now are able to celebrate having broken free of the counterproductive emotional patterns that were learned and accepted as “how life will be”.
Wherever you find yourself on the continuum of learning the skills of attaining emotional freedom, after reading/listening to today’s post/episode you will have a clear path forward for identifying with the latter description in the previous paragraph.
I picked up Dr. Judith Orloff’s book because I needed to read it. I knew the skills I needed to improve the quality of my emotional life were lacking, but I did not know what they were or, if I had a sense of them, how to strengthen them.
Dr. Judith Orloff defines emotional freedom as increasing your ability to love by cultivating positive emotions and being able to compassionately witness and transform negative ones, whether they’re yours or another’s.
Choosing to become emotionally free is entirely the choice of the individual. Whether healthy emotional patterns were modeled by your parents or not, you can learn them, apply them and shift how you engage with the world, how you experience the world and thus how you move forward and elevate the quality of your life experience.
Have a look at the benefits of setting yourself free emotionally:
BENEFITS of acquiring the the skill of EMOTIONAL FREEDOM
- liberation from fear
- navigate adversity without going on the attack, losing your cool, or being derailed by it
- choose to respond constructively rather than reliquishing your command of the situation whenever your buttons get pushed
- communicate more successfully and gain more confidence in yourself and empathy for others
- no longer feel disconnected or lonely
- feel more comfortable in your own skin
- be part of nuturing relationships
- discover more contentment
- become more flexible with life
- own the moment no matter whom or what you are facing
- “be more fiercely alive”
- liberation from the compulsive tyranny of negative emotions such as worry and anger so you can choose more joy
Now to do the homework, the steady and consistent exercises to welcoming the emotional freedom you seek into your everyday life. Today I would like to share with you 34 tips, practices, ideas and insights that spoke to me and what I thought would speak to TSLL readers/podcast listeners. However, there is far more detail in Dr. Orloff’s book, Emotional Freedom, which I highly recommend reading and keeping as a resource to return to as you incorporate and habituate the new practices that can improve the quality of your everyday life and cultivate more joy.
1.Discover your emotional patterns: Know thyself
What emotional type do you most define yourself as? The Intellectual, the Empath, the Rock, the Gusher (chapter 4 details each of these emotional patterns, shares the tendencies, strengths, drawbacks AND most importantly, how to strike a balance to welcome the good and let go of the unhelpful emotional patterns)
2. Take charge of who you want to be
Begin by understanding how you were nurtured as a child and as you grew into an adult and even into your adult years regarding how you were raised by your parents and continue to interact with them. There were most likely strengths and weaknesses. Dr. Orloff suggests observing each with an objective perspective for the purpose of gaining self-knowledge of what have become positive and as well as unproductive ways of emotionally engaging with the world. Once you have done this (this is for you and has no need to be shared with your parents), move forward consciously. “Consciousness [is] the path to freedom”. Acquiring self-knowledge will lift the fog as she describes it and show you the way to clear blue skies of clearly, concretely knowing what you want to change and why.
3. Seek calm and eliminate stress
One enhances your overall health, (yes, your physical health too) and the other depletes and destructs it. No doubt you know immediately which does what. Here are a few simple ways to welcome more calm practices into your everyday routine: experience and partake in laughter, exercise, meditate (breathing is powerful), “anything that makes you feel loved”.
4. Resist negativity and turn toward and amplify the positive
Becoming emotional free is a choice made by each of us, so it requires that we act and thereby think differently. Actions include what and how we speak. The words we utter and the tone in which we utter those words matter immensely and absolutely. We have control over these two qualities of speech. Orloff explains how words contain energy, and we are transferring that energy when we speak, and how when we say something sincerely positive or kind, the good energy given is accepted and received with love or, if spoken without sincerity, disbelieved and hurt is felt. Again, the reception is determined by the tone in which the words are delivered.
“Words impart energy that can be enlivening or malignant. This is true whether you direct words to yourself or others.”
5. Pay attention to your physical reaction around others.
To determine if the people you either choose to be around or have to be around, or are newly introduced to will bring positive energy into your life, observe your physical response to them. Having to do with how someone speaks to you, when they do, observe, Dr. Orloff’s suggests, your physical reaction with your body instead of how your brain processes the actual words. Let your physical responses guide you to help you determine who to continue to spend time around and who to walk away from. E.g. The charmer who says the sweetest compliments with a smile but causes your body to physically cringe, yep, that may be a sign that negative energy is coming your way. Walking away may just be the best idea.
6. Use breathing practices to calm/quiet a hyperactive mind.
If you discover you identify your emotional pattern to be the Intellect, your mind is busy. It is busy planning, learning, inquiring, planning some more and trying to figure out how to get it all done. However, when this happens before we can figure out how to fall asleep or need to fall back asleep, it is defined as a hyperactive mind and it is not emotionally helpful. Simply breathe. Get out of your head.
Regularly, aerobically, but also with strengthening and flexibility activities. Exercising requires you to be present; it helps you get out of your head and focus on what you are doing.
8. Engage with others first with empathy and secondly with your head.
9. How to handle an unwanted situation: Think first.
Think all of the details through first, once, and well. In so doing, you are making sure you do not react which would be your emotions taking over and potentially throwing you into a “fizzy” state. How do you think first?
- use positive self-talk and logic to become grounded
- take deep breaths. Do not take on the emotions of others. “You can still be loving and now feel the emotions they are emoting.”
10. Allow regular quiet time for emotional decompression (for the Empaths especially) throughout the day.
11. Honor your empathetic needs.
- Reminder: “No” is enough.
- Learn what your max socializing time is, and honor it without apology.
- I love this one: if you need to take a separate car so you can return when you are emotionally ready to leave, take your own car. Do not feel guilty for needing this. Similarly, if you need your own space when visiting family on the holidays or when traveling, honor you need by reserving a nearby Airbnb or reserving your own room.
12. Engage with life
If you have been hurt or if you see yourself as the Rock on the emotional type list, engaging with life will intially be uncomfortable or foreign. However, keep in mind what Brené Brown teaches, vulnerability is needed in order to sincerely connect, but as shared in episode #126, do not forget to partner it with setting healthy boundaries (which plays into #11 – honoring your needs).
13. Simple daily task: express one feeling a day in your journal
Why? To acknowledge honestly how you are feeling and when you are ready, to examine the why. Triggers or prompts. When we partake in this daily practice, we become more knowledgeable of ourselves, but also improve how to better communicate how we feel and why. Even better, we begin to see that emotions are temporary, and that is helpful to keep in mind as well.
14. Are you a gusher? Before seeking advice or support, follow these steps to gain more emotional freedom.
- center your feelings by defining the upset – what prompted you to feel as you do.
- answer the question: How does this make me feel?
- work with your feelings: clear the emotion, exhale the negativity, use positive self talk, tune into your intuition to find the solution
15. Extricate emotional vampires from your life
Sharing a list of the different types of emotional vampires, it was helpful to see their characteristics, and I will admit, I saw my older self in some of the descriptors. Just as important as it is to sweep out the emotional vampires from our lives, we also do not want to be one to others. Evaluating each of the lists is a good practice.
Back to the extrication of E.V.s. It entails clear and calm communication as well as setting boundaries. Once you recognize how they make you physically feel (returning to #5), find your voice, set your boundaries and walk away to seek other nurturing individuals to spend time with.
16. Set limits.
It is important to repeat what has already been mentioned twice thus far – set boundaries. Episode #126 shares in detail how to do this and why it is imperative to your emotional well-being.
17. Be solution-oriented.
Previously here on TSLL and on the podcast it has been shared that complaining about something you dislike or someone you dislike is only a positive contribution to our lives and the lives of others if we are also accompanying the ‘complaint’ with a sincere solution. Otherwise, let it go and move forward.
18. Understand that fear is a form of stress, and then move beyond your fears
Dr. Orloff explains in biological detail the body’s physical response to fear, and it is not good for our health (page 149-152). If you are someone who catastrophizing the future, expects the worst in situations, has fearful thoughts that keep you up at night, are afraid to speak up or go for what you want, then you are letting fear play a significant and consequently harmful role in your overall life. In other words, you are welcoming more stress into your life that need not be present.
Move beyond your fears not by avoiding them but rather by “facing them in a proactive way”.
“Courage requires the presence of adversity. In fact, no fear, no courage. WIthout something to overcome, there’s no biological push to be brave or conquer negativity, true evolutionary milestones.”
- avoid people who reinforce your fear
- avoid violent media – news, arguments or other scenarios that cause you stress
- immersing yourself in hot water (a bath) will help relax muscular tension quickly
- practice your breathing.
19. Seek out and remain close to “emotional nurturers”
20. Identify the fears you’d like to be free from and identify their triggers.
To return to #1, self-knowledge is the fundamental component. We gain clarity when we investigate ourselves and our reasons for feeling the emotions that arise, seemingly out of our control. When we can identify the trigger, we can then successfully change it or eliminate it altogether.
21. “We attract what we are”
“A basic law of emotional energy is that we attract who we are. Fear attracts fear. Courage attracts courage. If you want positivity coming at you, you’ve got to generate it . . . This influences which people and events keep appearing in your life.”
22. Stay optimistic despite fear
Regardless of what goes on in your life, wanted or unwanted, be mindful of your response. In other words, do not react. Take a breathe or take a beat before speaking or taking action. When a fear arises that you won’t be able to accomplish what you have set before you to achieve, focus on even the smallest victories – you are still trying, you still care. When you make a habit of positive mindful response, eventually it becomes a track in the mind and when it becomes a track, it then has become your default to not be thwarted by fear but to courageously face fear in a proactive way.
23. Continue to grow into self-awareness
Each of us is continuing to change, as we are dynamic creatures whether we want to be or not. In actuality, it is a good characteristic to be dynamic because it means you have an opportunity to grow. As we are continually growing, should we choose to, that means we have to continue to be aware of ourselves – our needs, emotional responses, etc. and not become complacent. In other words, as the book shares, our life truly is our career. It takes effort, but such effort pays many positive dividends.
24. Overcome frustration with patience
One of the biggest roadblocks to emotional freedom is frustration.
“Making a more deliberate choice to delay instant gratification and cultivate patience will help you achieve emotional freedom, have faith in yourself and your destiny.”
25. Let friendships and romances develop slowly
Why? In order to cultivate trust or determine if someone is trustworthy.
26. Find and welcome nurturing sources into your daily life
Nurturing sources need not only be people. Nurturing sources exist within and outside of ourselves. Anything that provides a sense of home is a nurturing source.
27. Foster positive human contact or community
When you engage with others whether at work, your personal life, in your neighborhood, online, choose to make it a positive exchange.
28. Learn the power and skill of meditating.
~I break it all down for you here in a 2014 post Why Not . . . Meditate?
29. Practice gratitude
Something that I have enjoyed sharing each month is my “What Made Me Smile” post, and I look forward to adding to this list as the month unfolds, then sharing a handful here on TSLL. However you practice gratitude, maybe in a daily journal, through prayer, by sending thank you notes, any action that asks of you to reflect and see all that is going well, make this a regular practice, and it will begin to shift your focus (remember #21). We attract what we are, and if we are grateful, we will begin to see even more for which to be grateful.
30. Listen to your intuition.
But first understand what intuition is and what it is not (read this post). Once you can accurately define what your intuition is, then you have a powerful skill in your arsenal to enable you to elevate your everyday life due to the choices you will make.
31. Redefine the traditional paradigm for coupling.
Communicate what energetic preferences and boundaries you need in a relationship so that you are not emotionally engulfed. From how you live together, to how much time you spend together, to sleeping arrangements, if you are an Empath as described in the Emotional Types list, you may deeply want a relationship but fear, based on past experience, that you will not be safe due to all of the energy and emotion of others you absorb. Due to this you have either acquiesced and let yourself become engulfed or spoken up ineffectively (or with a partner that was not right for you) and been berated for being difficult or cold. Neither are true, and effectively communicating and more importantly being with a person who is open to understanding you, is the key to being part of a healthy, nurturing relationship.
32. Take time for solitude regularly
“Solving lonliness involves connecting to yourself as well as others. That’s why it’s vital to find your own right rhythm of worldly involvement and solitude.”
33. Acknolwedge and celebrate current healthy connections
As mentioned in #26, not all healthy connections will involve other humans. From Mother Nature – hiking, gardening, simply being outside; to spending time with animals; to luxuriating in your thoughtfully curated home, these and many more are healthy connections. Invest in them, savor them and do not let others dismiss the value they hold in your life to feel connected and whole.
34. Strengthen the relationship you have with yourself – it’s the most important one you will ever have
In other words, invest in understanding how to welcome emotional freedom into your life. It will take time, it will make you uncomfortable for a short duration, but that is the way with change, it is uncomfortable because it is stretching us.
In our personal life toolbox, as shared in detail in Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making your everydays extraordinary and becoming your best self, it is filled with both strengths and skills. Strengths are innate and when we choose to strengthen these talents, we share with the world a unique gift only we can offer. Skills are tools any one of us can learn and apply to our lives to elevate the overall quality. Emotional Intelligence is discussed in detail in my book, which is why today I wanted to talk even more in-depth about why Emotional Freedom is a skill of great benefit.
Personally, upon reading Dr. Judith Orloff’s book I had many aha moments, validation moments and clarity-of-how-to-proceed moments, and as it happens on many occasions here on the blog and the podcast, I wanted to share what I learned in hopes that you too will find great value for this skill in your life as you continue to grow and create an everyday that truly delights you.
~Monty Don’s American Gardens, BBC2