If you met me today, you would never in a million years suspect that I use to be a terror. A decade ago, I was a hurricane of pessimistic feelings, wreaking havoc on the pride and ego of my significant other. Admittedly, I was an emotional abuser and my tongue was the chosen weapon. At the hands of a treacherous relationship, riddled with lies, deceit, and manipulation, amnesia reared its ugly head. Suddenly, I had no memory of what it meant to be emotionally healthy and happy.
In the midst of late night phone raids, my partner’s undeniable eagerness for an assorted variety of “other women,” and his inability to fathom the idea of monogamy, I forfeited my power. I had unwillingly submitted myself to a life filled with angry explosions, tear stained pillows and self-inflicted sorrow. Inebriated by the potency of makeup sex and the consistent rush of rage, I enslaved my heart to be mastered by drama and negative thoughts.
The relationship was poison and by the third year, emotional freedom had become a distant fantasy. It was merely a recurring prayer request delivered nightly, and I was convinced that God had stopped listening to my voicemails. Evidently, he was fed up with me making a fool of myself. Lightless, I was being swallowed up by darkness, rapidly losing my peace of mind. Emotional liberation was long overdue.
My shattered spirit demanded restoration pronto! I finally accepted reality: if I was going to get out of this emotional netherworld, I was going to have to do more than pray.
My strategies for breaking emotional bondage are by no means exhaustive, but have proven to be successful in transforming my life. I encourage you to use what you need.
Think Five Times
Charging to anger is a sure attribute of foolish people and I was the front-line representative; the poster child for thoughtlessness behavior. I had completely lost control of my emotions, becoming a hot-headed a loose cannon, and trust, if you pissed me off you were going to hear about it. I wore my “angry black woman” persona proudly.
A Muslim woman noticed my struggle and in a desperate attempt to help me understand the importance of taming my tongue, she gave me a piece of advice that instantaneously transformed my life. She told me, “A wise woman is slow to anger. As a good practice, you should learn to think five times before you speak.”
While I was not yet ready to adopt the mantra of being someone’s submissive and meek wife, I appreciated what she was trying to inject in me: emotional stillness.
Admittedly, nothing in my life remained the same once I realized how vicious of an existence I was creating by stabbing holes in the feelings of others because I was miserable. Despairingly seeking serenity I slowly began to practice consciousness. I learned to breathe through my anger and trained myself to think before I reacted. I trained myself to rely on calming techniques like meditation and journaling to settle my spirit.
The shift in awareness revealed something revolutionary to me. I discovered that NOTHING spoken out of anger, hurt, sadness, and frustration is beneficial. My authority came from stillness and with my new-found ability to harness my emotional reactions, I was unstoppable. I was back in control!
Assess the Company You Keep
My “ah-ha” moment came later in life. I remember the exact moment I realized I was swimming with sharks. I was at a house party with people who at the time, I had considered to be friends. I found myself sitting off in the corner and observing the interactions of my “friends.” Let me say this, no one tells you when consciousness occurs and there’s no “off” button once it’s activated. You start to observe and reflect on everything, including your friendships and family.
Sadly, as I tuned into these interactions, I felt appalled. The majority of the conversations circling the room were at the expense of other people. The gossip, backbiting, and dirt throwing was disgustingly overwhelming. Because I was internally afflicted, I had unknowingly attracted equally unhappy individuals. I was surrounded by broken people and my ugliness fit right in.
As a woman who is truly in love with herself and her bumpy metamorphosis into maturity, I can honestly say that positive, loving, caring people do not surround themselves with those who cannot comprehend what it means to be happy.
If you desire emotional freedom, you can’t spend your time and energy with people who are captive to their emotions. A slave and a free man do not desire the same things. They do not dine at the same tables and they do not have the same understanding of the world.
If you don’t take anything else from this read, take this: your friendships are a reflection of who you are and who you desire to be. Separate yourself from anyone who brings the worst out of you. The company you keep can either support or hinder your sanity. Keep yourself around those people who love the life they are creating for themselves and motivate you to do the same.
The Blame Game
Emotional freedom is all about taking ownership of your happiness. One of the most challenging lessons I’ve learned along the way was that in order to be free, I had to stop blaming everyone else for my enslavement.
I was quick to spew these words after I blew a gasket, “If you wouldn’t do stupid stuff I wouldn’t have to snap.” The truth was, I often went haywire because I was hurting and lashing out was the only way I knew how to express my pain.
Do not fall into the trap of placing the weight of your negative emotions on the shoulders of others. The mark of an emotionally sophisticated individual is their ability to regulate their emotions despite the actions of others.
“Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It is the power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.” – Corrie Ten Boom
On your journey to emotional liberation, make sure you pack plenty of forgiveness in your knapsack as you will need it. Your willingness to forgive others and yourself is the more crucial element in mastering your emotions.
If your final destination is emotional wellness, past agony and trauma can’t travel with you. The longer we hold on to anger and suffering, the further we move away from enchantment and prosperity.
Forgiveness is not only afforded to those who have wronged us. There will be times in life where you have to extend forgiveness to yourself for the mistakes and unrewarding decisions that have been made.
Although I have completely reinvented my life, there are still times I am tempted to go back to the “old me.” Situations that push us to regress are simply teachable moments that present us with the opportunity to prove we are no longer who we use to be.
The most important thing to remember in all of this is that the road to emotional freedom can be an intense passage. So be gentle with yourself. Coaching your mind to rethink it processes and reacts to emotionally heightened situations is a delicate process.
To all those inspired to break the chains and fly, be free! Wishing peace, prosperity, and blessings abundantly to each of you! Warm wishes.