Since we were kids, we’ve been taught that if we do something wrong, the worst thing that can be taken from us is our freedom.
For kids, that means time-outs, but as we grow up, jail isn’t the only way to be confined. Being too broke to follow our dreams, having to do what our boss tells us, or even just going to work makes us feel enslaved. “They” clip our wings and force us to live with less freedom than we want.
The problem is that we’re looking at freedom the wrong way. We’re defining it in such limited terms that we don’t recognize the shackles that restrain us.
Sure, a boss’s constant demands can feel limiting, but there are bigger steel bars that keep us from soaring.
Why we want freedom.
Freedom is the road to happiness. Being able to make our own choices and move through the world as we please leads to joy.
This is often why people love to travel. It’s during these short escapades abroad that they feel free from the confines of their nine-to-fives, their to-do lists, family demands, and the complications of life. It’s a getaway from the cell that seems to keep us hostage—the daily grind.
That’s the image we often give our captor. The demands of life pile up so high, that they are what rob us of our freedom. And all this could be solved with more money.
We think that if we win the lottery, or get that promotion and earn more money, we’ll finally be free. We convince ourselves that it’s our lack of funds that deprives us of truly living the life of our dreams.
These ideas are the tip of the freedom iceberg. Unfortunately, that small bit of ice sticking out above the surface is a fraud. It’s a gimmick that we’ve bought into.
The route to true freedom.
There’s a whole mass of matter that’s waiting to be explored deep within the freezing water surrounding that visible block of ice. And as you might have guessed, much of what we seek to achieve will not lead to joy, fulfillment, or a life we love. Yep. Freedom is much harder to gain than we originally thought.
Our captors have been in a disguise all this time. We were made to think “they” were authority figures, laws, and other limits, but in reality, the villains that keep us locked up are ourselves.
We’ve bought into our own lies and have allowed ourselves to be imagined hostages to our own self-limiting ploy. We’ve allowed ourselves to convince our own minds that money and power will give us the freedom we want.
But if we are our own jailers, we also have the key.
We’ve had it all along. We just have to be brave enough to use it.
The key to our freedom appears as we get to know what lies within us. Our thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and most of all, our beliefs. These beliefs—most of which were given to us kids—define the parameters of our cell. They tell us how life “should be” lived, they dictate what our priorities are and force us to do things a certain “right way.” These beliefs are the true captives.
Beliefs created by capitalism, patriarchy, and other self-serving systems were handed down to us from our parents, teachers, and the world that surrounded us as kids. These beliefs seeped into our being and created the jail that we’re locked in.
It’s time to break free from these walls and finally be liberated.
Remember that iceberg analogy? The freedom I’m walking toward ignores the ice exposed on the surface, since I know that it’s irrelevant to my happiness and to creating a better world.
Instead, I explore the depths of everything beneath the surface: my thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and most importantly, those beliefs I’ve clung onto since childhood.
Exploring our beliefs and questioning their validity is how we escape.
When we investigate the stories that we believe, we can start mapping out the layout of our prisons—the tales that have disempowered us, or made us think that our wings don’t work. With each self-inquiry, we discover the locks on our cell, and can start applying the keys to each device that traps us. As we open them, slowly, we get rid of stuff that no longer serves us. We feel lighter, more liberated, and more capable of living life on our own terms. This is how freedom is found.
Stop blaming the scapegoats. Freedom can be yours.
You just need to be courageous enough to explore the beliefs that keep you locked up. It’s a complicated expedition, but I can assure you, it’s worth it.
The freedom you desire isn’t based on having enough money, living by others’ rules, or complying with norms that limit you. True freedom doesn’t tie us down with those kinds of shackles; it allows to recognize our strength and soar. It motivates us to connect with others from a place of love and compassion. It helps us to build a world that’s fair, kind, and considerate to all beings.
That’s the freedom I’m heading toward. I walk this path every day and every day, I feel more empowered to keep moving forward.