We all desire freedom in our lives. The fact that we have the ability to make choices only confirms that. In the words of Jean-Paul Sartre: “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does."
Responsibility. It’s an interesting word to be used there. Basically, if we aren’t experiencing freedom, it’s because we aren’t being very responsible with our lives.
This doesn’t just mean we make good choices about what we eat, how we spend money, and what relationships we have. It’s actually much more about the driving force behind each one of those choices. It’s about how we manage our thoughts and emotions, the things that inspire our actions. Real freedom is not an external thing to be attained. It is much more about what’s going on inside you.
With that in mind, here are 5 things you can do to produce real freedom in your life.
1. Lose “control” by redefining freedom.
Freedom, at it’s core, really means “life without fear”. We normally think of freedom as “having control.” Control over your own life, your finances, health, relationships, etc. Instead, real freedom comes when you decide to give up control for something better. This doesn’t mean you hand over control to someone else. It means you don’t focus on getting it from an outside source.
Control, after all is just an illusion. It’s just the feeling of security that you’ve cultivated over the course of your life based on what you’ve learned to be normal. It’s unique to each person. It’s also not fixed. It can be molded and changed. Our need for it arises when we start to sense fear, often brought on by anxiety or stress. Freedom is not so much about losing that control, but about losing the fear/anxiety – the stuff that drives our need for control.
Freedom in your health doesn’t mean having a perfect body. It means not letting your body control what you believe about yourself. It means being healthy on the outside because you are heathy on the inside.
Financial freedom doesn’t mean having enough money to do whatever you want and not worry. It means not letting money control you. It means not letting money be your reason to be happy or feel secure.
Freedom in relationships doesn’t mean having control over another person to make sure they love you, listen to you, or stay with you. It means loving unconditionally and letting others be themselves (instead of being more like you).
2. Make healthy choices for yourself
A strange thing happened to me when I was struggling to lose weight. I knew how to lose weight. Just about anyone who had been overweight for a while knows how. Yet, I was still constantly looking up new diets, exercise plans, tips, tricks, hacks, shortcuts…you name it. What was that all about?
The truth is, I was looking for someone else to tell me what to do. I wanted to have all my healthy choices from the start of my journey to the last pound lost laid out before me. I didn’t want to have to make them for myself.
This is the same flaw found with accountability partners and personal trainers. Now, a lot of good can come from each of these, but many times they are needed to reinforce the right choices and habits. I’ll show up to the gym if my trainer/accountability partner is waiting for me. Why not just show up for yourself?
After all, your choices got you into this. Now, your choices need to get you out.
3. Have empathy for your future self
Make choices based on how they will benefit you later on. Self-control is really just empathy with your future self.
Empathy is an attribute we have towards another person. It allows us to step into their shoes for a moment and see the world through their eyes, and feel what they're feeling. What kind of world do you want your future self to see? Do you want your future self to be regretful for what you do now? Or grateful? Who is your future self for that matter? And if you know you need to make good choices to produce a better you, then where did the vision for a better you come from?
I often talk here on the blog about becoming the “real you.” If you are making the best choices, then that’s the person you are working to become. Your future self is really a much truer version of you. Make choices as if you were already your truest self. That person will start to become a reality.
4. Take personal responsibility over your life...all of it
If you make a mistake, own it. If you do something great, it’s okay to own that, too. As Brené Brown says, “If you own this story you get to write the ending.”
When you hand over responsibility for your life to someone else, you put them in control of how it turns out. You have the power to make healthy choices. That doesn’t mean they will always be easy choices. Things happen around us that we can’t control. We can, however, control how we respond. We can decide what story we’ll tell ourselves about the things happening. We can control what goes on between the ears.
You can choose to exercise even if you’ve “had a bad day”. You can choose not to spend money just because it’s the best sale there ever was. You can choose to love even though someone says something hurtful.
At the end of the day you have the power to respond and choose one way or the other in every situation – whatever way you want. Freedom, then, is itself a choice. If you want freedom, choose it.
5. Love yourself
Love is a choice – the ultimate choice. It is also a choice very few make toward themselves. Self-love is often the missing ingredient in many people’s lives. They search for freedom by trying to gain control. They give love only when they feel it will be returned.
The more self-love you have, the less fear you will have. Fear is the opposite of love, and real freedom is life without fear. Remember, fear is the driving force behind control. We seek control when we feel fear, anxiety, stress, etc.
Self-love, just like the love you give others, is a choice. You can choose to love yourself. It’s not earned. It is only given. Then you must choose to receive it. It really is that simple.
Loving yourself will produce internal freedom. It will free you from the need to “measure up”. It will free you form the need to seek a feeling of control (comfort) from an outside source.
For real this time,
P.S. If you haven't yet get the Lose the REAL Weight Guide. It's a step-by-step path to figuring out where things went wrong, how to lose the weight for good, and how to get the real you back. And it's absolutely free.