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Is True Freedom an Inside Job?

"Freedom, as defined by Wikipedia, is the power to act, speak, and change freely, embodying liberty and the autonomy of self-governance."

Sounds amazing, no?

Being free from all external influences and not being persecuted for what we say or do!

Sounds really like the most important thing to strive for in life.

Yet, do our efforts to escape others' influences merely trap us in new cages?

These cages are filled with people continuously deluding themselves that something or someone can bring them lasting freedom.

Early in my adult-life I focused on freeing myself from the negative influences some people had on me. I was the incarnation of a rebel, not only because of the books I was reading :-), I also was in constant opposition to anything perceived as coming from or through the “oppressor” and did exactly the opposite of what I thought was expected from me, not out of conviction but out of principle.

Besides the fact that this behaviour did not at all add to my overall happiness, it also created a lot of conflicts with myself and others.

I got into this vicious cycle of having to be right no matter what.

And boy , did I fight for my (being) right.

Decades later I woke up in front of the shambles of my sanity and had to make a very conscious decision:

Do I want to be right, or do I want to be happy?

For most of us life is solely an external experience. We are looking for vacations to experience stuff, we go to a Michelin star  restaurant to experience “haute-cuisine” just to bicker about the price quality ratio afterwards or we are not happy with the experiences we are having in our daily job.

In essence we are making our freedom dependent on what happens outside of us.

You might say that is exactly the essence of life: 

Overcoming external adversity!

And you are right, but only in a second step.

The first unavoidable step is and will always be to find freedom first inside ourselves. Using all the tools at our disposal to free ourselves from the incessant stream of thoughts who continuously define our state of Being.

Finding freedom from the incessant worrying and need of being in control.

You might think: Easier said than done!

It is possible and some showed us the way:

Nelson Mandela, for example, entered his 26 years of imprisonment as the head of the armed faction of the ANC, convinced that the only way to achieve freedom from Apartheid was through an armed fight. During his time in captivity he started to understand that the freedom worth fighting for lies inside himself. That only if he freed himself from all hatred could he survive his hardship.

He said:

“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn't leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I'd still be in prison” 

He understood that his outer freedom could only be attained through overcoming his internal hurdles.

The rest is history!

So how can we find our freedom inside?

How can we free ourselves from external influences?

Like Nelson Mandela we need to start by getting aware of what obstacles hinder us from being free

And these main obstacle are:

Fear: Avoidance of risk and rejection.

Self-doubt: Lack of self-confidence.

Past Traumas: Emotional wounds hinder growth.

Social Conditioning: Constrained by societal expectations.

Guilt and Shame: Feelings of unworthiness, regret.

Attachment: Fear of loss, clinging.

Negative Thought Patterns: Pessimism blocks positivity, opportunities.

Lack of Mindfulness: Disconnected from the present.

Dependency: Reliance on others' approval.

Resistance to Change: Unwillingness to adapt, evolve.

Genuinely introspecting and understanding which obstacles are holding you back is your most important step to freedom. 

And yes there's not much “doing” involved here, You might think that finding freedom is about action! Well the problem with action without awareness is that you do not know what you are acting upon.

It’s like starting a trip without a map or GPS and trying to find a hidden treasure without a clue. No matter how fast you go, you'll probably end up lost instead of getting to your planned destination.

Having navigated the toughest part of your journey towards inner freedom, the next step is identifying and leveraging your innate strength to remember your true freedom.

What these levers are and how to use them, we will talk about in my next blog posts.

till then

keep inspired

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