July 3, 2014

Declare Your Emotional Independence.


Independence Day is a great day to celebrate the country’s independence as well as your own.

As children, we are hard-wired to seek the approval of mom and dad. Ever since, even as adults we have continued to seek the approval of others in a variety of ways.

Some of us became pleasers, fixers, perfectionists and control freaks, while others became tough and insensitive.

Remember my rose analogy: after a few million years of the rosebush getting trampled, it figured out a way to stop the trampling—it grew some thorns. Like the roses, after years of not getting the approval we were seeking, many of us toughened up and grew some thorns, became a little angry and rough around the edges.

Whether your tactic was to become the sweetest pleaser or an obnoxious control freak, both, or something else, it can all be traced back to our dependence on approval. Thus the need for a personal Independence Day.

Of course, for many of us, mom and dad issues are water under the bridge, but I challenge you to look into how you have replaced mom and dad’s approval with other forms and illusions of approval. Perhaps you are a workaholic, driven to success, addicted to shopping, coffee, sports, the internet, sweets, movies, video games, etc. This list is endless.

In fact, we have created an entire culture based on fueling our need for approval with other kinds of stuff. We have hormones that drive this need for approval that are well-justified—if we didn’t want mom and dad’s approval, as children we would wander into the jungle and get eaten by a lion and there would be no people.

Reward hormones like dopamine surge when you shop, and crash when you buy. Dopamine levels surge when you close a deal, and crash when the deal falls through. They surge when you do something daring, and flatline when you do the mundane. We are genetically wired to push the envelope and get attention in order to impress a partner and/or prove our mating worthiness.

Declaring Your Personal Independence

Declaring your “personal independence” means that you are declaring that you are not going to act, love, perform, succeed or shop to get the approval of others.

For example, your mother expects you to call her every two days. You feel obligated, but because you don’t want to hurt her feelings, you call her to make her happy. Trust me, she can sense your feelings of obligation, and is left with a feeling that you are too busy for her and is not sure if you really love her. So your mom continues to manipulate you by making you feel guilty if you do not call her.

This is called obligatory love, and it only leaves her wanting more because she has never really experienced your truth—the true love you have for her.

So, declare your independence! How?

You can tell her,“Mom, I just want you to know that I deeply love you and sometimes I feel a little obligated to call you and I know you feel that. I want to make a deal with you. I want you to know that I am going to stop calling you every two days, but I am going to give myself fully to loving you in a way that is truly reflective of the deep love and appreciation I have for you. I might not call you for a week, but when I do, you will feel my love in a way I don’t feel I have ever expressed before.”

Now you are free!

Independence Day is the perfect day to become more self-aware of how you engage in relationships with the hope that they approve of you. Being independent does not mean you stop loving them, it is the exact opposite. It gives you the freedom to love them completely, without the push and pull of drama, games and obligation. It is only then that we will ever be fully content.

Happy Independence Day.

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Feliciano Guimaraes

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