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What is freedom? To me, it is a delicate interweave between love, security, and contentment. Freedom exists whenever I follow my heart while I am guided by my head.
However, if you are like me, it’s extremely difficult for your head and your heart to agree. It becomes even more difficult to find the balance between security, contentment, and love.
The following five steps mark the beginning and the end of a journey towards personal freedom. I invite you to follow along with me. I am only a guide walking beside you as you uncover your truth.
1. Establish Security
Nothing in life can be accomplished without security. If you have sustenance, shelter, and safety, you are more blessed than you may believe. Take a moment of gratitude to appreciate all that you have.
For some, the idea of security is unfathomable. In a society built by genocide, slavery, and cultural appropriation, safety is a luxury. I speak from a platform of privilege when I suggest security is the foundation from which we build freedom.
I ask you to uncover your personal definition of security. Perhaps security does not exist for you in society as a whole. Instead, it may exist in your family, community, or workplace.
Security may mean many things: financial, physical, emotional, or relational. Ideally, we find freedom in every facet.
Before we move on, ask yourself this: “Where can I find more security in my life and what steps can I take to achieve it?”
2. Practice Non-Attachment
So many of us live with a fear of scarcity. We may have never gone a day without our basic needs getting met, and yet we hold onto much more than we need.
Fears of scarcity show up emotionally as greed, envy, and attachment. Physically, it may show up in the form of hoarding, possessiveness, or excessive spending. Mentally, it creates an anxious mind that is never satisfied.
We have homes filled with more goods than we can use, banks with more money than we can spend, and shelves stocked with more food than we consume. Yet others starve, die of thirst, and live without shelter or security.
Are you a dragon sitting on a hoard of gold? Well, what good is that pile of gold if it keeps you stuck? Don’t you see dragons have wings? Yet if they spend their life protecting a pile of gold, they will never be free to fly.
Let go of your fears of scarcity and move into abundance. If something requires your constant guard to remain in your possession, it was never yours to begin with. It is time to let go of the things that clip your wings, whether it is money, a relationship, or a possession.
3. Develop Self-Awareness
How many of us are guilty of moving through the motions? Routines are wonderful when they are aligned with our highest good. However, we can be lulled by repetition without realizing how it keeps us stuck.
When we exist with awareness, we notice the subtle shifts in the tides. We feel the pull of life asking us to move elsewhere. When we are aware, we are not a ship lost at sea; we are the moon that moves the tides, always in control.
We must remain aware or we risk living at the expense of our freedom.
In the present moment, we are free. But we must always remain consciously aware of who we are, what we need, and where we are going. Self-awareness is the key cut specifically for your personal door to freedom.
4. Set Boundaries
We can become confused and think that freedom is limitless. We might believe that in order to achieve freedom, we must give up everything, lose ourselves entirely, and submit our will to the greater good. That could not be further from the truth.
Freedom means setting limits. It means knowing when we have had enough, done enough or are enough. From a place of self-awareness, we express our boundaries.
Many people are afraid to express their needs, wants, or limitations. This is often rooted in childhood trauma or relationships where we did not feel heard, validated, or loved unconditionally. However, in order for relationships to truly foster freedom, boundaries must be respected.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself if you struggle to understand your boundaries:
What activities, relationships, or roles make me feel drained?
When do I notice myself becoming tense, disconnected or fatigued?
Who are the people I feel most comfortable asking for help, expressing my needs or sharing my concerns with? (Hint: These are your safe people.)
5. Own Your Free Will
Everyone thinks free will is the ultimate form of bliss. Yet, whenever we are faced with choice, we become paralyzed. I know very few people, myself included, that can make life changing decisions quickly and without experiencing feelings of self-doubt.
This is the space where our head and heart often disagree. Sometimes, following our heart entirely means sacrificing security. Other times, following our head entirely means giving up our freedom, joy, or power.
Of course, decisions that feel like you must choose between the two extremes are rarely easy. Also, this dichotomous thinking is an indication we have given up our free will.
In existential psychotherapy, there are five givens of existence that cause humans anxiety. One of them is free will or responsibility. On the surface, humans love free will. We want to make decisions for ourselves, maintain our independence, and ultimately experience freedom.
However, if we are completely free to make decisions and our life becomes a mess as a result of our choices, we have no one to blame except ourselves. In order to avoid feelings of regret, dread, or responsibility, we shrink ourselves into boxes that limit our choices.
You have complete and total freedom to live a life based on your choosing. Today, you can quit your job, move out of your house, leave your partner, and have a completely different life. Of course, the consequences of your choices are yours as well.
If you are plagued by indecision, suffering, or stagnation, look no further.
Breathe in. “I give my heart freedom.”
Breathe out. “I give my head security.”
Breathe in. “I find balance between the two.”
Breathe out. “I find my freedom.”
Living A Life Of Freedom
Nothing I have shared is simple. Each step in this process may take years to master. Some of us become stuck at different points during stages of life. This is normal and expected.
Freedom exists at the precipice of love, security, and contentment. However, the valleys we must walk in order to reach freedom offer glimpses of the view from the top. When you reach them, pause and enjoy the view.
There may be other times where freedom looks like sacrifice. Perhaps we must make decisions that keep us rooted when we want to fly. However, in those moments, we are simply resting our wings, preparing for our next flight.
Freedom is personal. We all have a unique path we must walk and each of us has our own mountain to climb. However, we will meet others along the path.
Sometimes, those people will tell us when we have gone off course. Others might change our path entirely. At the end of the day, freedom is a journey of inner knowing that leads us towards a life of truth.
At the precipice of love, contentment, and security, there is a place called freedom. I will meet you there.