Independence Day – Are you really free?

fireworksAs we deservedly celebrate Independence Day in the US, like so many countries celebrate their own independence days, it is worth revisiting what independence means and all the mutations of it. There is independence from colonialism, independence of association, of worship, of speech, of travel and of other pursuits. These are legitimate victories worth celebrating and were often acquired at a harsh cost. People lost lives, were imprisoned, beaten, abused and such like during the process leading up to the day of acquiring aforementioned freedoms. I would like to argue there is an additional freedom worth fighting for in the same manner. It is Emotional Freedom.

What is Emotional Freedom? In my experience, what holds many back from their potential, from joy and happiness, is emotional baggage either currently being experienced or what is far more likely, from past degrading experiences that have permanently shaped all experiences. In a social media group I follow, a simple question was asked. What did someone in your past say/do to you that you have not gotten over? There were hundreds of responses ranging from what a bully said to them as a kid, to what was most common – an important family member saying or doing something negative. One response was an abusive dad telling his daughter how she would never amount to anything. Another was a narcissistic boss who thrived on constant corporate bullying. Regardless of what the negative experience was, it is clear that the freedom from these experience and subsequent independence to joyfully pursue life is painfully elusive.
This week, think about your emotional experiences that were formative and still impact you today negatively. Pick one. How can you get help to convert it from something that holds you hostage to something that itself motivates you to do better each day. Whatever your experience, rest assured you are not alone. There are hundreds of similar folks around. Find them. As I witnessed in the social media post, when one talked about a negative experience that they thought only they had experienced, many responded. All were at different stages of healing and that is the key to you getting Independence from it. Use July 4th each year, or whatever your independence day, to ask yourself that same social media question. Hopefully, each year, the list gets shorter.
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