Most people seem to be sold on the idea that emotional freedom means being happy all the time. But as the poet Rumi pointed out, joy and sorrow go together. As a human being, you can expect to experience the whole rainbow of emotions throughout your life. I would say true emotional freedom means not being the slave to your emotions.

I am not implying that you should attempt to become like a Vulcan and deny emotional experiences. Emotions are meant to be experienced. However, what many of us try to do is to hang onto the “good” emotions and resist the “bad” emotions. If you have an issue with anger or depression, clenching your fists and trying to not feel the emotion, in my experience, just leads to that emotional state persisting. At best you can just shove it down into your subconscious where it will manifest in unpredictable ways throughout your day (probably longer). Likewise, if you have a joyful experience, trying to hang onto it past its natural length tends to make the experience sort of hollow, and stifles further joyful experiences.

In both cases we need to be willing to fully experience an emotional state, and let it go when it has run its course. A simple way to do this is to be a curious observer. When I get angry, I’ll just sit with the anger, exploring it. Where is my anger? Is it mostly in my stomach, or is it a tension around the eyes, or somewhere else? How does it feel (as you must know, there are different kinds of anger. Is this one a hot rage, or a cool, vengeful feeling, or some other shade)? Asking questions like this not only gets you more in touch with the emotions, it also gets you focused on you and your experience, rather than on the people and situations that you believe “made” you feel this way (I’ve always found this idea of “You made me feel X” to be quite amusing. There are many times I’ve tried to “make” someone else feel something, almost always with results other than what I intended). You may find it also causes the “negative” emotions to be shorter in duration. These states, when allowed to be fully experienced, tend to dissipate on their own, and then they stop being experiences to avoid. You develop the ability to accept them, and then they cease to have control over you (meaning, if you’re like me, you’ll be making fewer rash decisions to regret later).

Doing the same thing with “positive” emotions is also a great idea. As well as having the same effect of mitigating impulsive decisions (Which we sometimes do even when feeling good. Haven’t you ever been in a state of elation and realized the next day that maybe you shouldn’t have spent as much money as you did?) this approach can also provide a deeper experience of these feelings. You may discover for once in your life that when feeling happy, it’s okay to just stop and feel happy, that you don’t have to act on that happiness or attempt to grab hold of it somehow.

In both cases, there are two major benefits. One is that you’ll no longer be ruled by your emotions. They won’t be things to be afraid of or to cling to. The second is that your emotional life will become richer. You may find that you had been experiencing emotions in black-and-white, and now you’re in HD technicolour. You may also develop an undercurrent of peace that will pervade any state you’re in.

Jimi Durso suffered from severe clinical depression for decades, and then beat it without drugs or therapy. Find out more at: