Dr. Ardeshir Mehran


To Breakout, Claim Your “Bill of Emotional Rights.”

An Open Letter to High Achievers,

Happy Holidays. I wish you a year of health, abundance, and success.

Let me ask you this. Are you already successful in life and a high achieving leader, but feel that there’s more inside you, more that you can do? You may feel restless, depressed, and want to have more energy, more impact, and accomplish more?

If yes, please read on. I’ll share perspectives on a path forward.

Ardeshir, running San Francisco Full Maraton, October 2021.

The backstory. On Sunday, December 12, 2021, I hosted a gathering for leaders worldwide to debut my life’s work that will go live in 2022. I shared the essence of my scientific research, clinical and coaching work, life-long struggles and learnings, formal education, and leadership roles. According to the session participants, it was a rich learning experience, gaining fresh insights into our behavioral patterns. Real issues were discussed, and meaningful connections were forged. People are asking for more sessions, deeper learnings, breakout practices. Here’s the recap of what I shared that day:

Apply the emerging behavioral science.

Disruptive scientific changes are unfolding around us in slow motion, that’s why we don’t notice them yet. These changes will be mainstream in the next 5-10 years; we are at the halfway mark of major scientific pivots. These changes are emerging from sports medicine, global trauma centers, pain clinics, military hospitals, and leading experts. The focus of this science is a holistic approach to how people operate (mind, body, spirit); how people learn, unlearn, recover from setbacks, and maintain healthy habits. This emerging field does not yet have a unified label (it will come). It is referred to as “Somatic psychology,” “whole-person psychology,” and “trauma-informed medicine.”

Applying this science has already produced unprecedented behavioral outcomes, changes that are visible, achieved faster, and last longer. In the upcoming years this science will be incorporated into the business world and our daily lives. There will be substantial redesigns in how we practice leadership coaching, lead others, build teams, resolve conflicts, communicate, raise children, love each other, and practice medicine and therapy. Organizational practices such as employee engagement, diversity & inclusion, corporate learning, performance/feedback, and change management will evolve. I will share more details in 2022.

Go all in, body first, then brain.

The new science is providing clearer logic to emotional and physical health (stress, anxiety, depression, ADHD, addictions, prolonged physical aches and pain, etc.). We are learning new facts about how we process experiences, brain-body connections, and how we learn and unlearn. We now know that the term “mental illness” is scientifically incorrect; emotions are felt in our bodies, not heads. The brain follows the body. Distressful emotional chain reactions start in the body, impacting cognitive functioning. Using this emerging science will help scale up how therapy is delivered for more routine issues. A shift from “therapy delivered by experts” to just-in-time, self-healing practices delivered by individuals, peers, teams, couples, and families.

Step up for your The Bill of Emotional Rights.

Beginning in January, I will share a research-based framework on our emotional wellbeing and growth. This knowledge has been with us throughout history but has never been fully documented. In essence, there are seven enduring human needs that are bestowed upon us at birth. There are not privileges given to us by our parents, teachers, managers, spouses, societies. The seven Emotional Rights are: “I Belong,” “I Am Boundless,” “I Am Complete,” “I Matter,” “I Make,” “I Am,” and “I Soar.”

These are forever, cradle-to-grave rights that exist in all people across societies and cultures. These rights are as elemental as our DNA. We are wired to fulfill these needs in our lifetime. We feel in flow and alive when we live a life rooted in these rights. Conversely, we feel anxious or depressed when our Bill of Rights is violated, dismissed, or fragmented. In this context, depression is data, a form of grieving, a wake-up call for us to reclaim our emotional rights and get ourselves back on track. Practicing your Emotions Bill of Rights will guide you to greater health and behavioral outcomes.

Thaw deep-freeze patterns that hold you back.

Many people (including myself) struggle to un-stuck themselves from unproductive emotions, procrastination, and relationships. Simply put, this is not about having a stronger willpower, an accountability partner, or a better planner. Such experiences are rooted in “protective” somatic emotions lodged in our bodies. Very hard to will it. But applying somatic practices will help rewire new brain-behavioral patterns.

How to start:

Shape a supportive environment. We know from research that activating meaningful growth starts with having an environment of emotional safety, availability of a compassionate “workout” partner (a witness), and body-centered practices. Growth is a connected sport (human connection, mind-body-spirit).

Next, practice growth breakout by taking stock and restoration of your Emotional Bill of Rights. This work would fuel your focus and drive.

Simultaneously, begin assessing and reconstructing of any freeze-replay behavioral patterns. This would generate greater flow and learning.

Done intentionally, the breakout work is about focusing and simplifying your growth practices, not adding more activities to your busy routine.

About Ardeshir Mehran.

I am on a mission. I am a trained psychologist and a leadership coach, with advanced training in psychoanalysis, group dynamics, and analytics, and served in leadership roles in major organizations. Over the years, I have witnessed the accounts of my coaching and organizational clients, colleagues, and running partners, and my own experience with private emotional struggles. Research shows (pre-pandemic data) that up to 50% of those in leadership roles experience depression, anxiety, stress, and burnout. This is more than double the general population data. The majority are unaware of such experiences, as success, status, and wealth mask such feelings. They are the least likely segment to seek support. I will be sharing that the opposite of depression is fulfillment (not happiness, joy, or resiliency), disrupting the current model of understanding depression. That high achievement does not equate to high fulfillment. Starting in 2022, I will offer science-based practices for greater growth and fulfillment.

Please reach out if this resonates. Let’s join forces!


* The art: An inspired rendition of the art called Le saut dans le vide (Leap into the Void), by the French performance artist Yves Klein.