How to Obtain Emotional Freedom. It's Tricky.

Watch the video of this post.

Listen to the podcast of this post.

A friend of mine saw one of my recent posts:  "What emotional freedom do you have right now?"  

He asked, "Would love to hear your definition of emotional freedom and how to obtain it."

Great question!   Thank you!

Simply put, 

Emotional Freedom describes those moments when you can safely express your deepest emotions 

What is an Emotion?  

The University of California, Berkely published a study in 2017 identifying 28 discrete emotions.  As you read this list, think about a time you felt each of these emotions.  

  • Admiration
  • Adoration
  • Aesthetic Appreciation
  • Amusement
  • Anger
  • Annoyed
  • Anxiety
  • Awe
  • Awkwardness
  • Boredom
  • Calmness
  • Confusion
  • Craving
  • Disgust
  • Empathic Pain
  • Entrancement
  • Excitement
  • Fear
  • Horror
  • Interest
  • Joy
  • Nostalgia
  • Relief
  • Romance
  • Sadness
  • Satisfaction
  • Sexual Desire
  • Surprise 

If you are serious about unlocking your Emotional Freedom, read this list again, one by one, and journal moments when you felt each of these 28 emotions.  Each emotion contains a very personal story of your life.  Some good stories.  Some painful ones.  

NOTE:  If your stories contain elements of abuse, depression, addiction, anxiety or extreme emotions, please seek professional support.

Here's a few of my story titles:

  • Aesthetic Appreciation.  Seeing Renoir's, Two Girls Playing Piano at the Musee de Orsay in Paris 
  • Anxiety.  My supervisor led off a performance review session with, 'you're most critical development point is being contentious when given constructive feedback.'
  • Calmness.  Anytime I take a really deep, centering breath
  • Excitement.  Seeing my name on the callback list to be in the musical, A Music Man when I was in college
  • Fear.  Sliding off an icy road into the ditch and seeing my wife lifted out of her seat in slow motion.
  • Nostalgia.  Looking at a picture of me proudly standing by my Mom when I made Eagle Scout.
  • Joy.  Seeing Renoir's, Two Girls Playing Piano at the Musee de Orsay in Paris with my daughters at my side

So that's identifying Emotions and Emotional Freedom.

The second part of his question is much harder to answer.  

How do you obtain Emotional Freedom?

Obtaining emotional freedom comes in two parts:  

A) Getting in touch with your own emotions; and, 

B) Finding people and places with whom and where you can express those emotions.

 Getting in touch with your emotions is a lifelong journey of discernment.  For the purposes of this short blog post, here are two recommendations:  

RECOMMENDATION #1.  Journal your life stories of emotional highs and lows 

RECOMMENDATION #2.  Seek professional support to discover and uncover your emotions, layer by layer

The second part of obtaining emotional freedom is finding people and places with whom and where you can express those emotions.  This part relies on one thing:


We all need safe havens.  Places where we can freely express without fear of retribution or judgment.  True compassion flows.  Grace flows.

Unfortunately, we've all been burned by trusting too much or trusting where we thought it was safe, but it wasn't.  We bear unseen scars from these experiences.  We protect ourselves so deeply to avoid getting emotionally hurt again.  We create a moat around ourselves with water so deep and broad we are untouchable.  We create a space where we are alone with our emotions.  Negative emotions rise and we have nowhere to put them.  

PLEASE NOTE:  If your stories contain elements of abuse, depression, addiction, anxiety or extreme emotions, please seek professional support.

How do you get the courage to trust again?

Trust is tricky.  It's not on or off.  You don't trust someone or don't.  It's more like a bank account.  You make deposits and withdrawals.  Trust is built.  It's earned.  

A speaker at a conference once gave an incredibly simple way of describing trust building.  It appealed to my analytics geeky side because it put trust in a formula:

Trust is directly proportional to promises fulfilled.

Small promise fulfilled?  A little trust gained.  Bigger promises fulfilled = bigger trust gained.  

Revealing our true emotions is like revealing our deepest held secrets.  We are reluctant to express them.  When we do, we feel uncomfortably naked.  Awkward.

The next moment after a big emotional reveal is critical in the trust building journey.  

  • Is there judgment?  
  • Is there an attempt to solve your problem?  
  • Is there an attempt to fix you?  

OR does the person receive it with compassion, receiving your Emotion as if they're placing it on a soft pillow.  

You feel …. Received.

In that moment, a huge promise is fulfilled.  Trust is established and you have obtained … Emotional Freedom.

Okay great.  But that's all about YOU and your emotional freedom.  I want more from you.  

Here's my Emotional Freedom Challenge for YOU:  

As a leader, facilitator, teacher, consultant, advisor, therapist or coach, you have a responsibility to CREATE safe environments for the people in your care so they can share their emotions freely.  

Yes, it's possible, in the most unlikely places.  Even in a corporate setting!

Creating Emotional Freedom at Work

When I was a new manager in my consulting career, I was the change management lead for a patient-focused care project at a hospital.  As always, our project was fast-paced, long hours and emotionally challenging.  Our client counterparts were incredibly talented and dedicated.  But they weren't used to working with consultants.  They struggled mightily.

During one of our status meetings, the project manager asked each person, one-by-one, if they had any issues.  Each responded, 'No Issues.'  I noticed Diane hesitated ever so slightly.  I asked her, "Diane, how are you feeling right now?"

She looked around at the team.  Tears welled in her eyes.  And she took the leap.

"I feel totally overwhelmed" and burst into tears.

Our consulting team looked confused.  Awkward is an emotion, right?

One of the nurses on our team leaned over and just put her hand lightly on her shoulder to let her know she wasn't alone.  There was that soft pillow.  No judgment.  No retribution.  No fixing.  No problem to solve.  Just received.

So I took a leap and asked the nurse, "how are you feeling?"

She expressed her feelings and we went around again through the project team, one-by-one expressing how each person felt.

It was SO freeing!  

There were tears, laughter, hugs, pats on the back, recognition and acknowledgements.

Even the consultants loved this new experience.

At the end of the meeting, the nurse asked, "Can we add Feelings to our agenda at EVERY status meeting?"

Before the project manager could respond, I said, "Of course!"

At the end of the project, the project team gave me a little green book labelled The Feelings Book.


It is your job to create a safe environment for Emotional Freedom.

When you, as a member of this community, build safe environments for emotional freedom with your clients, team, community, neighborhood, you are building …

Wisdom 4 Humanity


Thank you for Subscribing to our Weekly Broadcast