Let’s start with Merriam-Webster’s definition, which says personal freedom is freedom of the person in going and coming, equality before the courts, security of private property, freedom of opinion and its expression, and freedom of conscience subject to the rights of others and of the public.
Sounds familiar, right? That dictionary definition is how we typically think of personal freedom.
But let’s focus on this concept from two different angles—personal and spiritual growth. Both perspectives work together to help you create an internal state of personal freedom.
A Personal Growth Perspective
Please don’t misunderstand my intentions. I understand that some people genuinely lack personal freedom. Outside forces have taken it away from them, and they have very real reasons to fear for their lives.
As a white, privileged woman living in the United States, I cannot totally understand that level of lack of personal freedom. I have not experienced it.
Yet, I have been the brunt of prejudice. I have felt unsafe being myself and afraid to take meaningful action. And my relatives were killed because of their religion.
As a Certified High Performance Coach, I look at personal freedom from a personal growth perspective. From this angle, personal freedom grows from within an individual. It’s about how you feel inside, the beliefs you hold, and who you declare yourself to be. It’s about taking responsibility for your identity, your actions, and how you view the world.
Personal freedom is an attitude—a mental outlook and emotional stance. More than that, it’s an identity that grows out of the sense that you can declare who you are, what you stand for, and your commitment to your life and life’s work.
Show Up Authentically and Do Meaningful Things
At its foundation, personal freedom is about your ability to show up fully and authentically as who you are. If you can’t do that—because of internal fears or external circumstances, you lack personal freedom.
Also, at its core, personal freedom involves your ability to do things that are meaningful to you—to pursue your dreams and goals and fulfill your purpose. If you don’t feel able to take that type of action for any reason, you lack personal freedom.
A Tie to Identity
To experience personal freedom, therefore, you must know who you are. In The Motivation Manifesto, Brendon Burchard writes: “It is the main motivation of humankind to be free, to express our true selves and pursue our dreams without restriction—to experience what may be called Personal Freedom.”
Yet, it’s virtually impossible to express your true and authentic self and pursue your dreams if you have so deeply buried your true identity that you have no idea how to be that person. So, personal freedom, as described by Burchard, depends on knowing your true self.
Too many of us have covered up our identity because it feels safer to be who we are expected to be or someone that won’t be judged or harmed. Therefore, the first step toward personal freedom requires that you uncover your true self. Then, you can begin showing up every day as that person—as you.
Who You Want to Be
Once you know who you are, you can choose who you want to be going forward. I’m not suggesting that you feel dissatisfied with yourself or become self-critical. But if you have a nagging sense that you can be and do more, you realize that you need to change. Only then can you achieve your potential.
Maybe you just want to be you—the real you. Awesome. Then show up authentically.
But, perhaps, you want to step into a better version of yourself or what is often called your best self. With that decision made, you can make that new identity your expression of self.
Declare Who You Are and Want To BE
In either case, make a declaration about who you are or want to be. Then, state explicitly, clearly, and firmly that this is your identity.
Burchard writes: “This must be our day to define the best of who we are and what we will stand for. Tonight, in the glow of gratitude for our free will, let us write down the words and phrases that describe our ideal identity…The more we align our actions with this identity, the more free, motivated, and whole we shall become.”
Take a moment now…right now…to decide who you are, who you want to be, what you stand for, and what you want to do. Then, write it down…and read it aloud…as a declaration of your personal freedom.
The Two Things that Hold You Back
You may have clarity about who you are, who you want to be, and what you want to do. Or you may still feel as if you are not free to be and do those things.
So, what’s holding you back? According to principles taught in Certified High Performance Coaching, two things hold you back:
- social oppression
Personal freedom arises from the knowledge that you can be yourself without fear of ramifications. Fear causes you to hold back or suppress yourself. For example, self-oppression can come from fear of judgment, ruin, rejection, regret, responsibility, or failure.
Additionally, personal freedom is born from knowing that you are not constrained by other people’s opinions, behavior, or beliefs. As long as you act from a belief that others control you in these ways, you remain a victim of social oppression.
Thus, a fear that being your best self or doing meaningful things will bring about unwanted or dangerous reactions from others results in a loss of personal freedom. As long as you feel unable to show up as the person you choose to be and to do the things that are meaningful to you, you lack freedom.
Thinking of personal freedom in this way reminds me of Viktor Frankl’s book, * Man’s Search for Meaning*. Frankl shares the story of his struggle for survival during three years in Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps during the Holocaust. He says that what saved him and others who suffered through this loss of personal freedom focused on the “hard fight for existence.”
In other words, rather than focusing on the atrocities and potential of death at their captors’ hands, the survivors focused on hope and life. They had no personal freedom…except in their minds, but they could control their minds as well as their emotions.
They were free to decide where to focus their thoughts and what to believe. And they were free to decide who to be, how to feel, and what was important to them. That gave them personal freedom.
Each and every one of us has that same mental freedom. And when we are mentally free, we become personal free even if we face restrictive outside forces.
A Spiritual Perspective
As a transformational and intuitive coach, I also look at personal freedom from a spiritual perspective. From this viewpoint, you never lack personal freedom because your soul is always free.
You are a spiritual being having a human experience. The spiritual aspect is your soul, which is eternal. It is always safe and free.
At your core, that is the real you…your essence.
Your soul is calling to you now—especially now. It is whispering in your ear…
“It’s time to stop holding back. It’s time to express your essence and remember your agenda.*
What do you want to do in this lifetime? What are your aspirations? What is your purpose—your soul’s agenda?
Identify the goals and dreams that hold meaning for you. Write them down. Then, take action. Do the things that move you closer to fulfilling your soul’s purpose—the reason you are here.
Be a Free Person
How do you do that, especially if you don’t feel free to be you or take action? What if you still feel constrained and lacking personal freedom? What if you experience large degrees of social oppression?
Looked at from a personal growth and spiritual perspective, personal freedom becomes possible for anyone, anywhere, and in any situation. It is an internal state of being.
Always remember that you control your mind, emotions, and responses—to everything. No one can take that away from you. Nor can they take away the freedom of your spiriutal being.
Go inward. Declare who you want to be. Then, be that person in thought, feeling, and approach to life. And, whenever possible, be that person in action, too.
Do you feel able to develop an internal state of personal freedom? Tell me in a comment below.
If you would like to experience a higher degree of personal freedom, I’d love to invite you to join the Inspired Creator Community. For the next six months—from 9/13/21—2/21/22—I’ll be delivering 12 new Certified High Performance Coaching sessions focused on personal freedom.
These sessions, which ask you to declare who you are or want to be and what meaningful actions you want to take, dovetail with the Inspired Results Trainings I’ve created on identity, as well. These are available to new members as recordings.