As the days creep closer to the 4th of July I tend to get pretty excited. I love, love, love fireworks and I’m also quite partial to BBQs, pool parties and the general merriment surrounding such an important holiday. But of course as I am wont to do I find myself thinking about the significance of the upcoming day in history. We celebrate the 4th because it is the day when the declaration of independence was signed and America declared itself free from the rule of Great Britain.
Now I am not going to get into a history lesson but I do think that the notion of independence is a really important one when it comes to our health and our habits.
Have you ever heard of the term emotional independence? I heard it a lot when I was dating. “I want a man with emotional independence etc. etc.” I thought it meant that a person knew what their issues or baggage were and could talk about it like a grown-up. I certainly believe that’s a valid skill to have but I no longer believe it’s called emotional independence. I have come to think that EI as it shall now be named is the ability to feel what you’re feeling regardless of what someone else is feeling. Example: I wake up and it is a great day. The sun is shining, birds are singing and little mice have made me a beautiful dress to wear, this day is perfect and nothing could go wrong. As I am walking down the street in my lovely mouse-made frock, a friend comes up to me who is in a v bad mood. She says, “Ugh, this day sucks and your dress is ugly.” (Not a great example of a friend really) Emotional independence would be my ability to not let this un-friend get me down. I am happy. Just because she chooses to not be happy does not mean I will. If I did not have EI, her mean and grumpy mood would wipe away my smiles like Windex and I would spend the rest of the day in a funk and not know why.
Another form of non-EI can happen when you base how you feel about yourself and your behaviors on what someone else thinks of you. Or even worse, what you think someone else thinks of you. Example: Me again in my critter designed creation happily walking down the street when I am confronted with an old friend. She doesn’t see me, even when I wave. I get a little anxious. Did she ignore me? Have I done something wrong? Oh my goodness I wonder if I have somehow upset her. Non-EI is you jumping to conclusions and then having those conclusions affect your wellbeing. Even if she walked right up to me and said, “Sarah, you are a laundry list of awful. “ It’s still only her word against mine and my EI says, “No, I am a laundry list of rad.”
Now of course, the caveat: There will always be moments when you cannot help but have your emotions swayed by the likes of others. If a friend is ill or you are at a stand up comedy show you may feel compelled into sadness or joy, but you have the power to decide that you will let them affect you. That’s the big ah ha with EI. You have the power to control how you feel, no one else does, only you. And that is some awesome independence.
This weekend as you celebrate the independence of a great nation, why not also celebrate the independence of a great person. Don’t let anybody tell you how you can or cannot feel. Only you can make yourself feel small. So make yourself feel grand!