Freedom is such a powerful word, yet do we really know what it means?
For years freedom was tied to the experience of slavery... having the right to not be 'owned' by someone. Then as the women's movement got into swing, freedom also included the right of women to make their own choices, to have the freedom to choose a life other than that of wife and mother. Then we had gay rights, which further promoted the freedom to be yourself.
In the United States of America's Bill of Rights, freedom is spoken of as freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly... Freedom is "guaranteed" to be one of our basic rights.
Who Holds the Key to Your Freedom?
Yet are we really free? To answer that we truly need to look within ourselves. For centuries the concept of freedom was related to freedom from others... freedom was taken away from us by others outside of ourselves... and thus only others could restore freedom to us.
But think about it...Who really holds the key to our freedom? In modern times, the answer is definitely "we do".
We have the ultimate choice of whether to be independent of influence and manipulation. It may not always be an easy choice. Sometimes the consequence of choosing freedom can be far-reaching -- as in the case of refugees fleeing their country to avoid persecution and possibly death, or battered women choosing to leave their abusive husband, or a mother of young children choosing to return to school to get her degree.
However, no one has the power to remove your freedom. Ultimately we always make the choice as to whether we will "let" others "take" our freedom. The choice resides within each and every one of us. This was eloquently demonstrated in Roberto Benigni's touching movie "Life is Beautiful". Even in the midst of a Nazi concentration camp, the character portrayed by Benigni retained his freedom, both in action and in soul.
Freedom From Fear
So what is freedom? What is it that we need to be free from? It is said that there are only two emotions — love and fear. Looking at it from that perspective, then what we need to be free from is fear.
So the true path to freedom is through letting go of fear and embracing the path of love. Once we are really coming from the heart in all our decisions and perceptions, then we are truly free. We then become independent of petty thoughts and fears. We become free from worry, doubt, resentments, and feeling that we have been unfairly treated. When we can elevate our thoughts out of the muck of fear, we see that we have truly been free all along.
For some, this may seem to be a "Polyanna" way of perceiving the world... or an outdated "peace and love" statement from the sixties. Yet, if we look at our lives, we see that when we approach the people around us with mistrust and fear, we project an energy that then bounces back to us. When we approach someone with love and trust, then the energy bounces back at a higher vibration.
This is not to say that you will always get 100% loving returns. There are times when the person you face is in such a confused state and delving in the pits of anger and fear themselves, that the energy of love that may be coming from your heart will get distorted. Yet, true freedom is being detached from the returns or the results.
Freedom is choosing the actions and the thoughts that you know are for the Highest Good and releasing the results to the Universe. Freedom is being able to detach yourself from letting others' actions and behavior rule your actions and behavior. We are truly free when we are able to live not "in reaction" to others, but to truly make our decisions based on our own truth and vision.
Freedom and Restraints
We may, at times, be restricted in the physical world and find our physical freedom to be restrained, but no one but ourselves can restrain our spirit, our inner self. We always have the freedom to choose our thoughts and the energy that comes from us. We may at times choose anger, and that is fine, as long as we are choosing it consciously and not simply being goaded into it by the provocation of others. There are times when anger is justified -- not revenge, not abuse, not hatred -- but anger directed at an action that is unjust or unkind.
We have many choices to take each day -- from the moment we wake up to the moment we drift off into sleep at night. No one can dictate the choices we make internally. No one can "make us feel happy", no one can "make us blue", except when we give that energy permission to reside within our own being. That is our ultimate freedom -- the power to choose who we want to be at each moment of our existence. The choice is the power we have -- incorporating that choice into our actions at the moment is not always easy, but that choice is our freedom.
When we choose to come from a center of inner peace, love, and faith in the "rightness" of the Universe, then we project that energy and also attract it with our inner magnet. The more we clean up our own act and exercise our freedom to be, to think, to act as we choose (according to our Higher Self), then the more the world around us will change.
When we see that everyone is simply reflecting our own beliefs — including our fears and insecurities — we understand how to be free of the shackles we have placed on ourselves.
We need to free ourselves from the fears that have taken up residence in our being. We need to release them to the Light of Love and affirm our Oneness with Divine Will and Divine Plan.
We can "free up" ourselves from whatever is unlike Love and truly become free to express the Love and Joy that reside in our true Self. It's an action that we need to take again and again and again... each moment of our life presents us with another choice... freedom, or slavery to fear and old attitudes. The choice is ours and that is our ultimate freedom!
The Mindful Way through Anxiety: Break Free from Chronic Worry and Reclaim Your Life
by Susan M. Orsillo and Lizabeth Roemer.
Leading psychologists Susan M. Orsillo and Lizabeth Roemer present a powerful new alternative that can help you break free of anxiety by fundamentally changing how you relate to it. With clarity and compassion, this book describes clinically tested mindfulness practices specifically tailored for anxiety in its many forms. Learn step-by-step strategies for gaining awareness of anxious feelings without letting them escalate; loosening the grip of worry and fear; and achieving a new level of emotional and physical well-being.
About The Author
Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.
Creative Commons 3.0: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Attribute the author: Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com. Link back to the article: This article originally appeared on InnerSelf.com
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