Freedom is the courage to choose

Question asked on Quora back in 2015: How can I achieve freedom?

Gus Griffin’s reply (21 April 2015): There’s no such thing as simple “freedom”. There is only “freedom from” or “freedom to”. What do you want to be free from? What do you want to be free to do?

When we say “it’s a free country”, what we actually mean by this is that we think we are free to do more things in this country than we think other people are allowed to do in some other countries. One of the most important freedoms in a “free country” being the right to come and go as you please: which makes you free from the restrictions of that country whenever you choose to be.

I remember living in a densely populated Asian city where it was impossible to walk down the street without being bumped or jostled. After a year of this, I was well and truly sick of it. The freedom I craved more than any other – I was always thinking about it – was simply to be free to walk in a straight line when I went outside. So I went to the Australian Outback for my holidays and revelled in the freedom I had to move in whatever direction I wanted to without interference. You wouldn’t think that anybody could have that much fun just by walking in a straight line, but I sure did!

Functionally, when a person doesn’t feel free, in some way they feel their power of choice is being denied them. You may need to change your circumstances so that you can exercise more choice about what you accept or reject in life – as I did in my holiday (in fact, I then quit my job and never went back). Or sometimes you can just start making these choices for yourself regardless of what anyone else is trying to get you to choose. A little less cooperating might win you more freedom than you expect.

Probably you have more physical freedom than you think. We often feel trapped when we are not willing to pay the price that some choices entail. So it’s the cost of making the choice that’s holding you back, not the actual restriction.  You could choose a different situation, but you aren’t willing to give up or go through what you have to in order to make that choice. 

Or you don’t want to make some other person feel bad, even when he or she feels ok about making you feel bad. Perhaps it is time to balance the scales.

Sometimes all that is really trapping you is your own fears – and when you make the choice to feel the fear and do it anyway, all of a sudden you feel you have more freedom than you did a moment ago.

In other words, you don’t feel free because of the way you are looking at your situation. Finding a different way to look at it can give you a much greater feeling of freedom and cause you to act with greater freedom too.

People often feel trapped by life – as if someone or something out there is doing it to us – when in fact it is our own feelings and reactions to things that are doing the trapping. Any time you feel your freedom is curtailed, ask yourself: What am I reacting to here? How could I try to react differently? 

This brings into clearer view the ways that you are making yourself feel trapped. And it is possible to permanently change the way you react to things – I help people do this every day.

For more info on ways to try to react differently to things, this earlier answer of mine might also be helpful: Why is my life so hard?

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Posted July 5, 2019 at 1:03 pm by Gus Griffin · Permalink
In: Misc