“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask.” – Jim Morrison
15th August is a day of celebrating India’s freedom from British colonialism. Today, Independence Day means a holiday; a day for tri-colour flags, patriotic songs and movies and discount sales. The entire concept of freedom is misplaced. Freedom is defined in narrow terms by each person based on their circumstances – freedom from debt, freedom from oppression, freedom from toxic relationships, freedom to choose how we dress, freedom to choose sexual preference and many more.
But is that really freedom?
These are just short term goals or needs, which once achieved, will lose their meaning because we are already yearning for something else. It is a vicious cycle of needs and wants – material gains, status in the society, gaining attention and recognition etc, all of which are short-lived.
Freedom is the ability, power or right to act, say or think whatever one wants, without being constrained or controlled. Freedom is liberating and empowering at the same time. Freedom comes with responsibility. We will experience true freedom when we are emotionally, economically and mentally free.
Everyone is striving for economic freedom, but let us understand what emotional and mental freedom mean, because wealth alone will still not give you the sense of freedom if you are emotionally or mentally caged.
Freedom from herd mentality: We look for safety in numbers and very few have the courage to stand apart and be different. Whether it is a decision about buying a new smartphone or choosing a career, there is a tendency to let others decide for us. Rather than asking questions, or spending time learning about the options, we defer to the “social default.”
Freedom from prejudice: Each of us has a load of biases, which we are not even aware of. Some from childhood and some acquired along the way. We either try to change people who are different or we avoid or ignore them. If it is not our way – it is ‘wrong’!
Freedom from comparison: Trying to compare one unique person to another is like trying to compare apples to oranges. Unfortunately, we all do it. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” We will never be happy if we are constantly comparing ourselves to others, because there is always going to be someone who is better, smarter or richer.
Freedom from fear: We harbour numerous fears, some are real but most are imaginary. We tend to live either in the past or the future and create thoughts of fear which inhibit our joy and freedom. The fear of being controlled by others is the basic fear for human beings. We feel emotionally depressed when someone controls us, before that we try to have the power to control the other. It is a vicious cycle.
Freedom from ‘need-to-please’: Most of us have a deep-rooted need to suppress our needs or opinions to fit-in. We bend over backwards to gain approval and acceptance.
The good news is that we do not need to fight any war to achieve this freedom. It is all work on ourselves and within our power. Following are some suggestions; assess where you need to work on yourself:
- Replace biases with empathy and emotional intelligence.
- Educate yourself about your choices so that you can make a well-informed decision.
- Strive to stand out and dare to do things differently.
- Do not allow anyone else to tell you what you should think, feel, or do.
- Evaluate whether your fear is real or imaginary and then take steps to deal with it.
- Accept that each person is on a different path in life.
Understand that each of us is on a journey, not a race. How far you have reached is not determined by your status or financial success, but by your emotional and spiritual evolution. There is no judging anyone, as no one is perfect. We are all learning, growing and evolving. This Independence Day, introspect what you need to do to experience true freedom. Sometimes, it helps to have a partner to help you in this journey; reach out to me if you want to transform your life!
I wish you a life full of freedom, celebrating independence in every aspect of life.