What really is freedom?
No matter in what country you live in, most people feel trapped in a prison that they build with their own hands.
But why is that the case?
It all starts from childhood…
The history of parenting
Over the centuries our idea of how to raise children has changed drastically.
In medieval times corporal punishment was considered normal and commonplace. Children weren’t seen as pure; they were considered evil. Parents used to physically abuse of their children to grant them salvation and goodness.
It took until the late 1600s to introduce a new style of parenting: the punish and reward style. Instead of continued corporal punishment, children were punished only when they behaved badly and rewarded with approval and affection when they were good.
Today, in the early 2000s not much has changed even though corporal punishment began to come out of favor in the western world in the late 1900s.
It’s easy to look at medieval ages and say that back then we were in the dark age of parenting.
The problem is, we still are.
Today we’re doing the same kind of damage on an emotional level as we did on a physical level.
Why we lost our freedom and authenticity
Often parents put children in a track already tracked. Because they love them and they want them to be safe.
Children never have the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them.
If their emotions are not validated they learn that their feelings are wrong and to suppress them.
They start to choose what they are supposed to choose, what their parents say is “right”.
In order to adapt to the choices of their parents they created a false self… A mask.
That’s why we lose our authenticity and with it our freedom.
We become insecure, isolated, intimidated, powerless, afraid to decide for ourselves, trapped in a prison that we build with our own hands.
In a single word: Frozen. Without even knowing what we want from our life, from ourselves.
The pain becomes so big that we start covering it by eating junk food, drinking alcohol or developing other addictions.
Until we hit rock bottom.
And finally decide to change.
This is the story of many people. And yes, it is my story as well.
But how do we escape our own prison?
“The cost of shaping ourselves to the desires, preferences, and expectations of others, is losing ourselves; and when we lose ourselves we become frozen without direction, unable to make our own choices.” — Teal Swan
“Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally… Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.” — Don Miguel Ruiz
“To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” — Nelson Mandela
The Path Towards Personal Freedom
The first step toward personal freedom is being aware of where you are now.
It also takes patience because, how we have seen, it’s the result of many years of “domestication”.
As Don Miguel Ruiz explains, the following are the four pillars of personal freedom.
1. Use your words wisely
Words are not just a sound or a written symbol. They are a force. They have power.
With words you express yourself, communicate, think and, as a consequence, create the events of your life.
Depending how you use your words, they can set you free or enslave you.
Words are not only said out loud but also kept inside. Be honest with yourself. Don’t use them against yourself or against others.
Since we are one, when we attack someone else we are deepening our own wounds.
Always use the power of your words in the direction of truth and love.
2. Don’t take things personally
Imagine you speak with the same person in two different situations.
In the first scenario the person had an awesome day, plenty of sleep, a fulfilling job, nothing to worry about.
How do you think that person will treat us? Pretty well, eh?
Now, same person but different scenario. This time, she didn’t sleep well, lost her job, got in car accident and every annoying situation happened.
How do you think she is going to treat us this time? Probably very differently from first scenario.
Nothing about us changed in both scenarios but we have been treated in different ways. That’s why if we take things personally we’re in trouble.
We should never base our opinion of ourselves on how other people treat us. It’s not about us, it’s about them.
3. Don’t make assumptions
We always tend to make assumptions about what others do or think.
Then we blame others based on our assumptions.
But actually we misunderstand, take it personally and create a big drama for nothing.
The way to stop making assumptions is to start asking questions.
We have to make sure that the communication is clear.
We have to have the courage to ask questions until we are as clear as you can be.
4. Always do your best
There is one last pillar and it’s the one that keeps the other three habits alive when times are tough.
Always do your best with the 3 points before.
Circumstances will change so your best will sometimes be extraordinary and other times not so good. Don’t beat yourself up but be honest with yourself.
Always make sure that what you are doing is not less than what you’re capable of doing.