Do you exercise your personal freedom? I realize that you may not feel free, but everyone has personal freedom to some extent. Yet, not all of us put that freedom to use. Instead, too many people jail themselves with concern about what others think of them, expect them to do, or believe they should do. However, it’s possible to liberate yourself and choose who to be—authentically and on your terms—no matter your circumstances.
Here’s the thing… No one can fully take away your personal freedom.
Can they put you in a jail cell? Of course.
Even while incarcerated, you retain a great degree of personal freedom, albeit not physical freedom.
You Always Retain Important Freedoms
Even while in a jail cell, you still can freely choose how to think, what to believe, how to behave, how to respond, and who you are being. Faced with the worst circumstances, you still retain these important freedoms.
Consider the words of Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
Indeed, even in the direst situations—like being in a concentration camp, you can decide to be positive or negative, responsive or reactive, hopeful or pessimistic, fearful or courageous, solution or problem-oriented, and helpful or self-centered. You are free to look for understanding or feel your experiences have no meaning. You can be a victim to others and circumstances or take responsibility for yourself—for who you are being and what you create in the moment and future.
Now consider your average, everyday circumstances…your current life. I bet you realize you have a lot of freedom to choose who to be—happy, sad, courageous, fearful, peaceful, anxious, generous, miserly, loving, hateful, accepting, critical, productive, or distracted. Those are just a few examples of identities you can choose at any given time and or in any given situation.
You also can choose to be someone concerned about what others think and expect of you. Or you can be someone who exercises their personal freedom to be who and what they choose and to live a life on your terms.
In the past, I curbed my authenticity to please others, be loved and accepted, and feel safe. But that didn’t make me happy, fulfilled, successful, or able to express myself or enjoy life fully. Instead, it caused me to hide my true self.
I remember cutting my bangs every time I saw my mother so she wouldn’t tell me they were too long.
I recall avoiding all conversations of spirituality or metaphysics with my audience and clients, so they wouldn’t think I was weird and choose not to work with me or buy my products and services.
And I used to work long and hard on a business I didn’t want to create to gain love and acceptance from my husband.
I could share more examples of how I didn’t show up authentically…not because someone “made” me but because I chose to do so for the wrong reasons.
I decided other people’s love, acceptance, and approval were more critical than my authenticity. But when I realized I could never be happy hiding my true nature or ignoring my soul’s guidance, I made a new choice—to be authentic.
I decided to be myself…to do “me.” That’s when my life changed for the better.
I still want to be loved, approved of, and accepted. But I won’t change or hide who I am to have those experiences. People either love, approve of, and accept me as I am or not. And if not, then either we part ways, or they can change their perception of and attitude toward me.
How to Free Yourself and Choose Who to Be
If you want more personal freedom, you must free yourself. You hold the key to your personal freedom—at least when it comes to your mindset and habits, your ways of seeing and being in the world. You have the ability to choose who to be.
If you want to be less concerned about what others think of you, expect you to do, or believe you should do, do the internal work that provides that freedom. In other words, examine your mindset and habits and determine how and why you jail yourself.
Here are five ways to begin that personal journey:
1. Describe who you would be if you were unconcerned about what others thought, expected, or wanted of you. How would you dress, behave, speak, gesture, or spend time? What type of career, partner, car, or home would you choose? Don’t hold back! Imagine that anything is possible…
2. Explore your fears about being authentically yourself. What might happen if you “did you” fully? Do you believe that friends and family wouldn’t love you anymore? Do you think people will disapprove of your choices or criticize and judge you? Are you afraid you’ll lose your job? Dig deep! What are you most afraid will happen if you show up 100 percent authentic?
3. If your fears were realized, what do you believe would happen? Would you be alone for the rest of your life? Would you be unable to find someone willing to hire you, and you’d end up homeless and destitute? Would you be ostracized? Explore all your fears.
4. Do you have any proof that your fears are real? Examine your life and the lives of those you perceive as authentic in how they show up in the world. Have you experienced the things you fear? Have they encountered negative ramifications due to their authenticity? Are your fears based on truth or data?
5. If your fears came true, what would you do—especially if your goal is to have the personal freedom to show up authentically? Would you remove judgmental and critical people from your life? Would you return to being inauthentic, doing what people expect of you, or behaving as you’ve been told you should or must? Or would you choose to still do you…be you…despite the so-called negative impact of your authenticity?
Authenticity is Worth the Risk
Here’s the thing… Even if you experience your worst fears realized, you will still probably feel much better showing up authentically than not.
And you won’t die. In fact, you likely will thrive.
And why wouldn’t that be true? The more authentic you are, the more you demonstrate who you are, and the more you allow yourself to feed your soul, the higher the likelihood that you experience happiness, fulfillment, peace, prosperity, and health.
I’d say that makes being authentic worth the risk, wouldn’t you? I know it is for me.
Use Your Personal Freedom to Choose Who to Be
So, who would you be if you were unconcerned about what others think of you, expect you to do, or believe you should do? How would you show up if you genuinely didn’t care about others loving, accepting, and approving of you?
Take a moment and imagine yourself being authentic…living your soul-aligned life…
Are you willing to wait another 12 months or three years to be that person and enjoy that life?
What will you lose if you don’t start being that person and living that life now?
And where will you be in five years if you keep being a person who bends to the expectations, beliefs, and values of others rather than to your own?
It’s time to be yourself, is it not? Choose to do you despite what anyone thinks or expects. After all, the opinion that really matters is your own. If you love, approve of, and accept yourself, that truly makes a difference.
Are you being authentic or hiding who you really are? Tell me in a comment below. And please share this post with a friend or on social media.
If you want to create transformation quickly so you can succeed, let’s chat. Get on my calendar here. Or join the Inspired Creator Community for group transformational coaching every month. Plus, members will be privy to a six-month focus on personal freedom starting 9/11/23.
Photo courtesy of Yulia Koltyrina.