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Freedom from Emotional Bondage

Today is the 1st day of August, and it’s another beautiful month where we can experience the freedom God has so graciously granted to us. Unfortunately, as I write this month's blog, the number of victims of emotional abuse continues to rise, and its impact intersects demographics to include age, culture, race, gender, socioeconomic, religious, spiritual, and political. Emotional abuse has no barriers except those we erect to experience safety, foster healthier relationships, and journey toward healing our families and communities. As a therapist and pastor, my life’s work has been travailing with individuals living in some of the most traumatic relationships, trying to cope and rebuild their lives while working to break free of the emotional bondage they have been imprisoned to for so long. We must remember that healing is not a destination; it is a journey, and for many being free of the relationship or connection doesn't always mean freedom from the embedded survival narratives created amid the abuse and/or neglect. External talk, if not challenged, becomes an internal dialogue. Freedom, true freedom, is not free. For many, it costs EVERYTHING!


As we continue our journey toward healing and freedom, we will reflect on Emotional Bondage this week.


Emotional Bondage: Emotional bondage refers to being trapped in negative or unhealthy emotional patterns or relationships. It can involve feeling controlled, manipulated, or emotionally dependent on someone or something, inhibiting personal growth and well-being.

Emotional bondage can occur in various types of relationships, such as romantic partnerships, friendships, or even between family members. It can lead to emotional entrapment or reliance on another person for validation, happiness, or a sense of self-worth. This can create an unhealthy power dynamic within the relationship, where one person may feel controlled or manipulated by the other. This form of bondage often involves intense emotional connections, but it can also lead to emotional distress, anxiety, and a loss of individuality.



Photo by Kat Love on Unsplash

Recognizing signs of emotional bondage in a relationship and seeking support if needed is essential. Below I have listed some common types of emotional bondage. In order to experience FREEDOM, we must know the warning signs.


1. Codependency: Codependency or unhealthy emotional dependency is a type of emotional bondage where one person excessively relies on another for their emotional needs, self-worth, and identity. The codependent individual may sacrifice their own needs and well-being to meet the needs of the other person, often enabling unhealthy behaviors. This can lead to an unhealthy dynamic where the well-being of one person is contingent on the other's actions or emotions.


2. Emotional Manipulation: Emotional bondage can involve manipulation, where one person uses emotional tactics to control or influence the other person's thoughts, feelings, or actions. This manipulation can be subtle or overt, but it undermines the other person's autonomy and emotional independence.


3. Attachment Issues: Emotional bondage can arise from insecure attachment styles, such as anxious or avoidant attachment. Anxious individuals may fear abandonment and seek constant reassurance, while avoidant individuals may struggle with intimacy and emotional closeness, leading to emotional distance in the relationship.


4. Trauma Bonds: Emotional bondage can form in relationships where both individuals have experienced trauma, leading to a unique and complex emotional connection. This bond can be supportive and toxic, making it challenging to break free from the relationship. Below is an excellent website on Trauma Bonds which will be discussed later this month.


5. Enmeshment: Enmeshment is a type of emotional bondage where boundaries between individuals are blurred, and there is a lack of emotional differentiation. This can lead to a loss of identity and a sense of being enmeshed or merged with the other person.


Photo by Claudia Wolff on Unsplash


Emotional bondage can occur in relationships with narcissistic individuals who seek to control and dominate others for their own needs and validation. The person under the narcissist's influence may feel emotionally trapped and powerless. Emotional bondage may also involve emotional blackmail, where one person uses guilt, threats, or emotional pressure to gain control over the other person or manipulate them into doing something they don't want to do. It's important to recognize these types of emotional bondage in relationships and take appropriate steps to address and improve the situation. Healthy communication, setting boundaries, and fostering emotional independence are essential for creating healthier and more fulfilling connections with others. Additionally, seeking professional help from spiritual leaders and support, therapists, counselors, or support groups can benefit individuals in such relationships.


We were created for freedom and not bondage. Remember, you have been given a divine choice, so choose FREEDOM.



Dr. Sha’


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