How can we gain real freedom in our lives? How can we be our true selves?
The key for me, after much thinking, extensive reading and exploration is by being responsible for who we want to be in the world.
I know it sounds kind of weird that to be free we have to be responsible but I’m telling you, without responsibility to ourselves we are never free. So what do I mean? What does being irresponsible for our freedom mean?
You may think you are journeying through your life, but in fact you’re always tethered to something, someone or some expectation.
When you hand over responsibility for your freedom to someone else then you dance to their tune. It might be a lovely tune, you might like it for a long time, but there will come a point when you realise being the passive bystander, or worse still, the victim, isn’t being free at all.
This is the stance people take when they say things like “life just grinds you down”, or, “I would if only he/she would let me”, or, “I’m so busy with everyone else’s needs I just don’t get time for me” and loads of other similar things. They speak from the place of a martyr. They believe that people, or society, or the world is doing this to them, that they have no permission or power.
What a crock!
We all have the power. It may feel the opposite sometimes but we can all say no or yes, there is always a choice we can make. Sometimes making those choices means being brave, stepping up and being seen and that’s not always easy. That’s why being responsible for our own freedom is a very active thing to do – it’s continuous and takes practice.
Sometimes the revelation that you haven’t been responsible for your own happiness creeps up on you. I recently watched a great TEDX talk by Alan Watkins MD. He thinks that we get to a crisis point with our emotions because we feel that we’ve followed all society’s rules and expectations and yet still have a yearning for more. Essentially we hand over our freedom to others. In my mind that’s where we start to go wrong. We truly believe if we do everything that’s expected of us we’ll be happy. Wrong!
So how do we create the freedom to be our own unique and glorious selves in the world?
Being responsible may sound dull but what I mean by it is being in charge of creating the life you want.
Responsibility can be overwhelming. I have found out how knackering it can be on many occasions in my life and it’s always been my choice to be in that position. Taking on and being responsible for everyone else is not what will make you happy. Yes, we get joy from looking after our loved ones, raising our families and caring for our community, but that doesn’t mean we have to be responsible for everyone else’s every waking moment of happiness and self belief. We can’t ‘make’ others happy, just as they can’t ‘make’ us happy. Here’s what I mean.
Loved ones. Allowing them to be their pwn person whilst giving them a strong connection to find their way back is so much more powerful than trying to share every waking moment. You all get to be your unique selves and have fabulous relationships. Everyone’s a winner.
Kids. Not rushing in to solve everything allows them to develop coping and life skills, isn’t that far more positive than training them to always look to you for help?
You can still be a responsible parent or partner without being responsible for that person’s heart & soul. If you think about it, taking on responsibility for that person, even with their permission, infantalises them, it makes them a victim and takes their power away. Is that what you want for your nearest and dearest?
One of my go-to books is Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, you may have heard me write about it before. In this book, after having every human dignity stripped away in the concentration camps and having everything he loved destroyed he asked himself how does a human still feel free?
It is the freedom to be you and make the choices about your life, whatever your circumstances, and find meaning in that choice, that ultimately sets you free.
We are responsible for our choices. So therefore we are all responsible for our own freedom, even if it is an internal freedom whilst in a prison camp.
Here’s how to start creating your own freedom.
It’s amazing to find your personal freedom within yourself. Knowing, truly knowing, what sets you free and taking steps to make it happen will transform your life.
Here’s how to amplify that incredible feeling – tell others about it!
Talk to the people around you and explain what sets you free, ask for what you need and excite them with your plans for the future. It will build an irresistible atmosphere, drawing people, opportunities and energy to you like a magnet.
Tell the world! Write a blog, share a social post, speak about your passion, volunteer, paint it, perform it, publish it!
Start today. Say to yourself “this is it, this is my life and I’m responsible for me”.