For me, freedom is a state of mind. It’s a place in our consciousness that’s as natural as our breath. But for most of us, our internal freedom is boxed in to some extent, giving us ample opportunity for pain, suffering, and ultimately for learning should we choose that orientation to life.
Freedom is a lot like a garden. Not only must we tend to it, planting seeds, watering, and pulling out the weeds, we also have to work with the various elements that affect a crop such as rain, sun, animals, and sometimes frost. The external elements can damage a crop, but really, growth never stops. It may be affected by slowing down the growth, or by yielding less, but the life of each seed, and the entelechy of each human being pushes both to their fullest expression, accounting of course for all those external variables both plants and humans will encounter.
Those of us working in the social sciences – clinical psychology, social work, therapy, and coaching, have one major common goal which is to assist clients in becoming their most fully expressed selves. Those of us working integratively know we cannot leave out the spiritual part of ourselves. And it is exactly the spiritual part that assists in opening up the consciousness of freedom, and the fuller expression of that deepest part of who we truly are.
How, though, can we create more freedom for ourselves? Where we are in our consciousness and where we are physically on this planet has a lot to do with our internal state of freedom. Based on our belief system, the way we were raised and programmed by our parents, culture, religion, and country, all play a large part in our personal definition of freedom or lack thereof.
I have lived in so many boxes. The good kid box, the heterosexual box, the good employee box, and here’s the kicker, while these boxes come pre-made in our culture, I am the one that ultimately chooses which box I’m gonna stick myself in. I know, this part sucks, because I have to admit to myself it really is a choice, past the pre-programming, and then I have to take 100% responsibility and completely rewrite my own personal narrative. Cue the Betty Ford Clinic. Shit. Seriously, it takes work and commitment. I‘ve had to keep my eye on the prize. The world we all live in has a negative polarity. But really, if we can begin to work at changing our thoughts and the actions that follow we begin to create an authentic space we actually want to live in and in which we actually feel free, not boxed in.
The best example of this I can think of is from Victor Frankl. Almost everyone I’ve read or trained with uses Frankl’s story because it’s deep. While imprisoned by the Nazi’s in a concentration camp during World War II, Frankl realized he had a choice as to how he thought about where he was. Were the conditions atrocious? Absolutely. Were the crimes being committed among the most horrible in human history? Without a doubt. And still, Frankl chose to hold a loving, positive focus despite the abhorrent and inhumane circumstances. He was in the worst imaginable box and yet was able to create a sense of freedom for himself which eventually manifest in his being freed in the physical.
This example for me teaches something so important, we have to believe, even when it looks like all odds are against us. For me, that’s the best way to work with negativity. You have to be stronger than it is, and more persistence. Persistence is one hell of great quality to nurture in your consciousness. It’s one of my favorite. But be prepared, the minute you call it up you will be tested, continually. I recommend making a nice cool beverage. I like to mix cranberry juice and San Pellegrino over rocks in my adult sippy cup. Okay, sometimes I use vodka. Whatever your mixer, enjoy the ride. And like Bette Davis said, “Fasten your seat belts, you’re in for a bumpy ride!”
And isn’t the ride why we’re all here to begin with? Life’s a journey for all of us, and finding freedom, or creating it is a huge part of the process of living. I believe our need for freedom is hardwired into our consciousness, a part of our entelechy for who we are in this lifetime. And the degree to which we experience the sense or feeling of freedom is the degree to which we’re aligned and on point with our life purpose. Feeling stuck in your current work, relationship, or physical state? This lack of alignment and feeling of freedom is your indicator that more work and exploration are in order to create a greater level of feeling and more experiences of freedom in your life. Lucky for us we have to have it, so that need usually pushes us forward in the direction of where we want to head and what we want to experience.
For years I wrote – scripts, journals, essays, lyrics, poems, and reports – much of my writings were work and academic requirements – and always I felt a very clear internal push to write more. The writing I did for work and academia felt stilted at times, and I felt boxed into a form of writing that was required of me. It did teach me a great deal about structure, content, organization, and producing for deadlines – all great training and experience for a writer. It supported my life as well with paychecks and degrees, but always there was this underlying need for a more creative expression with my writing. And it was the discomfort that pushed me forward, often times in a painful way, to really define my expression creatively. Thankfully, I honored this ongoing inner push, often times against great odds, and continually sought my own creative expression, and bit by bit, or “bird by bird” as well-known author and writing guru Anne Lamott says, I was able to find more and more freedom, a clearer path to travel, and a fuller expression of my life purpose. I listened. I followed. I found freedom. You can, too. Take action. Free yourself. And enjoy.