We often say that something needs to be liberated or is liberated already. What does it mean exactly? Are there any criteria or signs which point to liberation? When can we consider an emotion or a pattern liberated?
Concisely stated, self grasping is the root of all samsara, so in conventional parlance, it is that which is liberated. However, it is precisely by seeing through the quality (of self/self grasping) that it is discovered that there is nothing and no-one that needs liberating. Therefore, sadhaks are instructed to effortlessly rest in the natural state.
Often, it takes some time of deepening in view to be completely free of those tendencies, so as you alluded, one may see that certain patterns or emotions (or one's reaction to emotions) don't hold the same sway. When one sees that they aren't swayed by the arising of thought/emotions or that even when something arises, it doesn't stick or leave any residue, then this is a good sign.
(This is taken from an email. While certain correspondence will be included in the blog, it is important to note that the replies are to a particular person, so many times what is expressed is colored by who it is written to. However, just the general questions will be represented here and more personal parts of any correspondence will not be included.)