For the last few years, I’ve focused on my personal freedom. I wasn’t in jail, but I felt as if I was. And here’s the irony: I was keeping myself captive. That meant I also held the key to my cell. The world’s most successful people value personal freedom. Therefore, they place a lot of attention on enhancing and maintaining their ability to express their true identity, pursue their dreams, and live on their terms.
For such high performers, personal freedom hinges on their ability to live without doubt or fear since both of these emotions cause them to hold back. Additionally, for them, being free means remaining true to their ideas, beliefs, goals, and dreams—despite what others might advise or any external pressure. Finally, it means showing up authentically…no matter what.
That’s what I wanted…that kind of freedom. I wanted to stand in my power, believe in myself, take bold action, and feel confident expressing and demonstrating my true self.
Freeing myself, however, was an inside job. No one could unlock the cell for me.
Personal Freedom is an Internal State
While personal freedom is most often defined as the ability to come and go, be treated equally, and have the security of private property, it is also about the ability to express opinions and act upon your conscience. The latter type of freedom is an internal state.
You know you have achieved the internal state of personal freedom when you aren’t subject to your negative mental dialogue, which causes doubt and fear. Nor do you feel internal pressure to conform or do what others tell you to do.
This state is marked by confidence, courage, and commitment to your values and aspirations. You feel free to show up authentically and take meaningful action.
Additionally, personal freedom gives you the ability to choose and believe what you want. It also gives you the independence to pursue your purpose and be yourself.
When you can do all these things, you have achieved an actual internal state of personal freedom.
Let’s look at a few aspects of personal freedom more closely.
Free to Choose
Personal freedom involves the ability to choose. You can make your own decisions without fear or doubt and despite any external pressure.
I probably experienced the highest degree of personal freedom after my college graduation. I had so many choices! For six or seven years, I chose to apply for jobs that interested me and used my skills and to live and work wherever I wanted.
I was single and unencumbered during that period. No one and nothing held me back.
Sure…I got lots of advice, but I had the confidence and courage to make the decisions I felt were right for me—and to act on those decisions.
Free to Believe
In my mid-20s, I began to explore metaphysical and spiritual ideas outside my religion of birth. Not long after that, I moved to Atlanta to start my own business—another independent choice. There, I met spiritual people deeply immersed in the so-called “New Age Movement.”
At that time, I felt free to explore new ideas and adopt new beliefs. I followed my sense of truth and alignment and confidently stepped into a new way of seeing the world.
Doing so impacted every aspect of my life, including my writing. I began to write books based on my new beliefs and values.
Free to Pursue Purpose
About eight years after I got married, I became free to pursue my purpose more fully. Our financial situation allowed me to focus on writing books, blog posts, and articles with no worry about earning an income.
So, I focused my energy and attention on writing about topics related to personal and spiritual growth. I aligned my work with my metaphysical and spiritual beliefs as well as with my religion.
I had the personal freedom to express myself without fear or doubt. I moved toward my aspirations with eagerness and confidence. I let my passion and purpose lead me and felt no need to hide who I was or what I believed.
Losing My Personal Freedom
Some years later, though, I began to feel constricted—in my work, beliefs, and authenticity. I felt as if I had to hide who I was on a deep level.
When my husband stopped sharing my beliefs and values, I no longer felt safe or comfortable expressing them. So, I began to hide my true self as a way to get along.
My writing also shifted gears when my literary agent directed me to create books on writing and publishing rather than personal or spiritual growth. I stopped writing about my spiritual beliefs and succumbed to the pressure to continue my career in a more traditional vein.
Add to this new pressure from my husband to contribute to the family finances, and I felt as if I couldn’t focus on aligned, purposeful work. So, I stopped writing much and turned my attention to building a business around my existing books and area of expertise—writing, blogging, publishing.
As a result, I locked away my passion for creating a career around what I felt was my life’s work. Unfortunately, however, I also locked away my authentic self.
I chose to give up my personal freedom. But I didn’t realize that I had made that decision. In fact, for years, I blamed everyone else, but I know now that I am responsible for that choice.
I placed myself in the jail cell and locked the door. I was my own jailor.
Doing so caused me to doubt myself on many levels. I developed fear around my writing, my relationships, and my ability to earn a living. So, I did what others expected of me and maintained an acceptable persona.
On the outside, I seemed fine while, on the inside, I began to wither and die.
Free to Be You
Developing the internal state of personal freedom is my journey—one of returning to myself and expressing my identity authentically—in every aspect of my life. It’s also a journey to find my courage and confidence and pursue my purpose with joy and abandon.
I believe it is impossible to live a life that feeds your soul if you lack personal freedom. Only when you feel able to make choices and take actions without fear or doubt and without the need to conform to the expectations of others can you show up fully and follow your internal GPS. Only then can you do what you are meant to do in this lifetime—achieve your potential and fulfill your purpose.
Like me, you hold the key to your jail cell. Unlocking it requires taking responsibility for your choices—no more blaming anyone or anything else. Then, make new choices.
That’s what I’ve done, and you can do the same.
These days I choose to make decisions with courage, confidence. My choices align with my beliefs, values, and purpose. As a result, I feel more joy, fulfillment, and excitement about my life day by day. I feel freer.
Do I feel totally free? Not yet, but I experience a greater degree of personal freedom every day. And each choice I make, each action I take that is aligned with my true self, opens the jail cell door a little wider.
Do you feel personally free? Tell me in a comment below, and please share this post with a friend.
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Photo courtesy of inno kurnia .