Everyday school doors burst open as children escape the confines of their classrooms and enjoy the exhilaration of talking, playing, and moving freely. Their energy soars as they revel in a playground of possibilities.
Most of us experience this kind of freedom less and less as we move into adulthood. Yet the craving to metaphorically run after our desires persists, even if we are only able to act on it occasionally.
This is why we can be surprised when we are liberated in a significant way (finally!) only to then be confronted with how daunting the freedom feels—like a big yawning chasm full of opportunities and scary monsters.
Some of these emancipating times in our lives include:
It is true that losing something is often the precursor to gaining freedom, and we may have to deal with feelings of grief before we are able to feel the expansiveness of our liberty.
In other cases we have so internalized the bars on the cage that when the door is finally flung open we remain paralyzed like a trapped animal unable to cross the threshold. We either cannot make sense of the openness before us, or it feels like we're standing at the edge of a dangerous cliff.
It may sound counter-intuitive, but exercising our freedom is something we need to do throughout our lives. We need to stretch past the unknowns, our insecurities and doubts, and play with new found possibilities. We also need to jiggle the bars of the cage to see which are still solid and which are illusory or decayed.
A woman came to us for advising because she was having trouble figuring out what to do for work. While she had always had career ambitions, her primary focus had been on being a mother. Now her children were older, which freed up more of her time and attention. She was suddenly (or so it felt) faced with the formidable freedom of following her aspirations. Yikes!
One way out of a cage is step by step as you create a structure for exploring and experimenting. For example, our freshly liberated mom outlined the following initial steps:
After following these steps for a while our client began to feel the momentum that comes from connecting with the more intuitive part of the self that knows how to go after what it wants.
Without always realizing it, we diminish our lives when we don't exercise our freedom either out of fear or neglect. We deny ourselves the opportunity to follow our wishes and dreams and see where they lead us. Pursuing our freedom is something we benefit from cultivating throughout our lives because it is how we express ourselves and grow. It can also be a lot of fun.
We are happy to report that after her initial exploratory steps, our client found a great job that fits her to a T. She is now taking further advantage of her freedom by following up on some of her other passions in life—for the pure joy of it.
Here are some questions to help you explore freedom as it relates to your life now:
Brainstorm ways you could spread your wings and experience a new freedom. It can be as small as coming up with new menus for meals or using your free time differently, or as expansive as re-organizing your work life (feel free to call us!). How about exercising the freedom to unplug from time to time?!
Create some simple steps for exploring your freedom. Don't worry too much if you are taking exactly the right step. What's most important is that you actually take a step.
Wishing you the joys of freedom,
Beth and Eric
This monthly slow essay is from Beth Meredith & Eric Storm of Create The Good Life.
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