Happy Independence Day - the day we celebrate our “unalienable rights” to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and freedom! Now of course there are many ways to achieve living life to the fullest, feeling liberated, and attaining happiness, but I can promise you that if you truly want to let freedom ring, then you must foster emotional independence. Emotional independence is being able to stand in your power, and to make choices based on what is in your highest versus as a reaction to external circumstances. And the crazy thing is, that even though “unalienable rights” are defined as those that cannot be surrendered, transferred, given away to, or revoked by another, the fact is that most of us give away our power when it comes to emotional independence and let outside sources rob of us our joy, equilibrium, internal knowing, and sense of self.

So, if your day, mood, or reactions are being controlled by:

• the way your butt and thighs look in your jeans,
• whether a person you are dating asks you out for Saturday night or texts you the day after you slept together,
• a disagreement you’ve had with a family member,
• someone else’s opinion of you, or
• your desire to numb out and avoid dealing with certain situations,

then chances are you need some support in fostering emotional independence.

Here are 3 tips to aid you on your path to true freedom.

Tip #1: Befriend the Full Spectrum of Your Emotions

Most of us have a strained relationship with our emotions. We have been trained or trained ourselves not to feel. We have become masters at distancing ourselves from and suppressing our emotions, shutting down, numbing out, keeping busy, and staying in our heads, all so that we don’t have to feel what we perceive will be hurtful. In our efforts to protect ourselves from potential pain, we lose access to some of our greatest tools and teachers - our emotions! Our emotions are our greatest guide. Like an all- knowing GPS, they are there to inform us when something feels off or right for us. Yet, the problem is, we can’t learn from something we refuse to look at. To cultivate emotional independence, we must allow ourselves to feel the full spectrum of our emotions, to use them as learning tools and guides, and to freely express them in healthy and constructive ways.

Tip #2: Take A U-Turn Back To Yourself

Most of us look to the outer world for love, validation, affirmation, and stability. We are emotionally dependent on others as well as external circumstances to fill our cup, make our day, and inform our sense of self. However, as long as we keep looking outside ourselves for our answers as well as our self-worth, we will never feel free. To foster emotional independence, we must take a U-turn back to ourselves. We must learn to go inward and tap into our truth. We must become self-referred. Self-referral is a way of continually looking to yourself instead of the outer world for approval, answers, and guidance. It empowers you to clear away the voices of society, friends, family, and the people-pleaser inside of you that is looking for love and validation so that you can finally connect with your inner wisdom (as well as your likes and wants) and live in your authenticity.

Tip #3: Step Into Radical Responsibility

To feel safe enough to live in our truth, confident enough to follow our gut, and liberated enough to live authentically, we must be able to trust ourselves. But unfortunately, deep down inside most of us don’t trust ourselves. And why should we?

How many times have we:

• said we would speak up, and then sat silent,
• known the person was not right for us, but stayed in a relationship out of comfort or convenience,
• promised ourselves that this week things would be different, only to break that promise to ourselves by Tuesday?

We break promises to ourselves all of the time. And it is all of these broken promises, that fosters our lack of self-trust and whittles away at our ability to be emotionally independent. To turn the tides on distrust and bolster our sense of emotional independence, we must turn words into action and step into radical responsibility.

Radical responsibility means taking 100% responsibility not only for the emotions we are feelings but also our capacity to listen to, honor, and act upon these emotions. To be emotionally independent we must be able to count on ourselves, our ability to make and carry out high-level choices and actions, as well as our capability to navigate life in a healthy, effective, and self-honoring way.

So this week I invite you to join me in exploring and celebrating the gift of emotional independence. As Debbie Ford said in her book Courage,

"When you have emotional independence,
you want for nothing because you have everything.”

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Befriend the Full Spectrum of Your Emotions: Begin a practice of tuning in and connecting to your emotions. A few times each day, make an effort to pause from whatever it is you are doing and ask yourself, “What am I feeling?” It may sound odd, but the truth is many people have no idea what they are feeling at any given moment. It takes pausing from what you are doing and tuning into your feelings on a consistent basis to get connected to even emotional world. And remember, this exercise is not about doing anything with what you are feeling, for example if you are feeling sad, nervous, anxious, you don’t need to try to fix it. This exercise is just about developing a deep relationship with your emotional world.

(2) Take a U-turn Back to Yourself: Start noticing how much you give your power away to others. Notice how much you look to others for love, approval and your answers. When you feel yourself looking to the external world for others, picture yourself taking that U-turn back to yourself. Ask yourself questions like: “What is right for me in this situation?” or “What is the most loving thing I can do for myself in this moment?” Practice tapping into to your answers.

(3) Step Into Radical Responsibility: It’s time to fortify your muscle of self-trust with action. After asking yourself questions like: “What is right for me in this situation?” or “What is the most loving thing I can do for myself in this moment?” you must act upon what you are hearing.

Author's Bio: 

Kelley Kosow is the author of The Integrity Advantage, a motivational speaker, and the Chief Executive Officer of the highly acclaimed Ford Institute. She continues the legacy of the New York Times bestselling author and thought leader, the late Debbie Ford, and leads the development and teachings of The Ford Institute’s transformational programs to thousands of people across the globe. Known as a “kick-ass coach” to high-level executives, change makers, and celebrities committed to personal transformation, Kelley blends her quick wit, laser sharp insight, and relentless compassion to help people upgrade their lives on a cellular level. Throughout her impressive career as a successful lawyer turned personal growth super star, she has been featured in Oprah Magazine as someone who could “Dream it, Do it,” as well as In Style, People, Working Mother, Latina, NY Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and LA Times. Kelley has also appeared on “The Balancing Act” and Better.tv. Connect with Kelley at http://www.kelleykosow.com