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May 8, 2017

Balancing Freedom & Responsibility in today’s World.


As a man, I feel a deep sense of responsibility to provide for my family.

For me this is meaningful and rewarding and I choose to participate in a world that can be highly demanding of my time and energy. Yet, I also carry within myself an innate desire to be free of the limitations that society places upon me.

The question is: How can I participate in the world with all its demands and live a fulfilling life of self-determination?

We are surrounded by people vying for our attentionand if you are raising a family, or simply an active participant in the world, there is often little time left to just be. It can lead to feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.

To ensure we are not completely depleted, we may react to these feelings by shutting down, or we may strike out at others for the situations we find ourselves in. We may seek solace in alcohol or activities that keep us away from the demands of our family, especially if you are a parent.

This can lead to us feeling even more tension as our partners are left to shoulder the burden of our home duties. It can set up a circle of blame as partners feel resentful for being left to do it all. Our internal voice can berate us for not doing enough or make us feel unappreciated for all that we do.

When there seems to be no escape from external criticism, our inner critic, and the demands of the world we live in, we may become stuck in limiting patterns. There seems to be more and more that needs to be done each day. The list can be endless and it needs to all be accomplished within waking hours.

Life can feel like being on a runaway train that is headed for a crash. You may tell yourself, “I can’t go on like this, I want to live life at less than full throttle.” You may feel a strong desire to be on a desert island, so you can be more authentically you

Life under these circumstances is at least predictable, even if it is moving at warp speed. It may be too frightening to jump off that train and the freedom we seek feels like a bridge too far. So we trudge on.

I’d like to offer an alternative to this perspective.

Feeling stuck is our natural way of letting us know that we may not have enough support to let go completely from what is familiar and embrace change. It is a wisdom that we carry within, to pause when we are unsure. When contemplating crossing a fast-flowing river, we naturally stop and look around for opportunities to support a safe crossing.

We could just jump in, hoping for the best, and try to get to the other side as quickly as we can without drowning. It makes perfect sense to stop in these moments though, look around, and see how we might cross without getting swept away.

We may feel the same way when faced with a personal change. When we have decided we want to change a situation in our lives, it is easier when we look for support.

To appear that we need help could threaten how we imagine others view us. We might imagine that we are “okay” in their eyes if we are capable, strong, and can take the bull by the horns.

Seeking support is not an act of weakness. It is a sensible and pragmatic approach to life, and probably the most loving act that you can give yourself in times of change.

We may hope that the situation will sort itself out, or we may try and do even more to see if we can move through a dilemma. If you like more of the same discomfort, this can work, even if you end up feeling more exhausted and depleted.

Or, there may be a wiser aspect of ourselves trying to tell us to stop and breathe.

It is okay to say, “I don’t know,” or “I need help,” or even, “I’m stuck and don’t know what to do.” These are calls from within telling us that there is not enough clarity or support to move forward.

A mantra I like to live by is “Honour thy resistance.”

Resistance is my own inner wisdom illuminating a personal threshold, inviting me to look for a better footing before I take the next step.

~

Author: Richard Prince
Image: Author’s Own; Unsplash
Editor: Lieselle Davidson

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Richard Prince

Richard Prince is a Gestalt psychotherapist practicing in Sydney. He works with clients who are interested in finding deeper meaning in their lives and wish to explore what their life calling might be. He has trained in the United States and in Australia, completing degrees in architecture, social ecology and holds an advanced diploma of Gestalt psychotherapy. He balances his therapy practice with life in the professional business world as a creative practitioner, father, husband, and full-time human being. Catch up with Richard on his blog.