Freedom! (LebensLiebe episode 14)
Welcome to LebensLiebe. Your podcast & blog for living, laughing, and loving.
In this blog you will learn more about freedom. It will help you to discover your wishes and passions by…
….letting go and saying no;
…allowing your feminine and masculine wisdom to surface;
…trusting in your intuition.
The meaning of freedom
Being free is the opportunity to design your life as you wish. It is the liberation from boundaries and the chance to spread your wings wide.
We all want to be happy. Some of us are capable to announce that wish openly. They are ready to dedicate themselves entirely to finding happiness in what they do and how they live. Others regard happiness as a bi-product of other things such as a functioning relationship, a great job, and a good income. However you choose to pursue happiness, I would like to propose the following: Happiness and joy won`t work without freedom.
Prior to starting this podcast, I have done some research and found a very nice definition of freedom by Paras Chopras.
“Freedom is NOT doing whatever the heart desires right now. Freedom is the possibility of doing whatever the heart desires right now. Freedom is the possibility of breaking free, if and when needed. Freedom is the confidence of not being chained in an unhappy state. Pursuit of freedom is to continuously ensure that one is not relenting control of life to any person or any sort of circumstances. No one but you has any right on your life.” (Paras Chopras)
In other words, freedom is a choice. It is also a chance to take on responsibility for your life. The moment you take over control, you will step out of feeling like a victim. Sentences like “I had to take this job because I have to cover my loans.” won`t work for you any more. You know that you have the choice to say “no”, e.g., to work that merely drains your energy. Freedom of choice is a responsibility that you can decide to take on every minute of your day. Yet, it is a choice that only you can make. Hence, freedom is a chance that only you can give to yourself.
I am asking you now: “Do you want to be a victim of circumstances and people around you telling you what to do, or are you ready to step into the creative power of freedom?”
We live in a world that is controlled by frames of belief, ideas of moral, and other rules. Who wants to break with these frames, risks to be regarded as crazy, too different, or non-conform. Your step into a life of freedom will certainly require courage and creative thinking – all of which you are absolutely capable of, trust me.
Even if living a free life doesn`t seem too simple at first sight, doing so will make you a role model to others. The moment you embrace this new role, everything around you will work as a mirror. The longer your life a free life, the more you will inspire others to do so, too. In the end, you will change your frame of reference of how to live your life, and everyone around you will be a confirmation to that choice. It is your decision to life like that. It is your chance to make freedom and happiness a wonderful habit for yourself and others.
Let`s look together at how to cultivate more happiness in your life.
Freedom and gender – a choice?
I am a woman and I am very happy to be one. Yet, in order for me to be able to make the life choices I want to make, a lot of courageous women before me have done amazing work. Simone de Beauvoir is one of them. The French philosopher and writer, who never wanted to be considered a philosopher in the first place, wrote a beautiful sentence:
“One is not born a woman but becomes a woman.”
According to Beauvoir, historic and social constructivism attributes a particular gender to us, which makes us male or female. Accordingly, we grow into feeling that we have to meet the expectations that come with this sex.
Since the 1940s when Beauvoir wrote this many years have passed. Other than back then, women do not have to ask their husbands any more, if they are allowed to pursue a job. Women vote and are on management boards of many large corporations. They have a word in politics and since this month, female US senate members can even bring their babies to work. A little side note: I am mostly referring to the Western world here as you might have noticed. Unfortunately, I cannot refer to every part of the world here.
Despite all of these great evolutions, I would like to raise a question: How much of our world view is still dominated by a male, patriarch notion? How much of how we perceive the world has generally been shaped by men?
I am currently founding a company with a man. Although we easily agreed on not wanting to buy into gender-related power plays, we could not help but notice how differently we interact with the outside world. Being a female and a male founder is a great thing. I would even go so far to assume that it is an advantage for how prospective partners and customers perceive us. But do we want to rely on this advantage? Isn`t that already buying into the different notions that revolve around men and women in the working world?
I would like to argue that letting go of gender-related behaviors requires un-learning. It requires finding a balance of enjoying your feminine and masculine attributes as well as acknowledging what makes you special without being attributed to gender. With regards to work, a girl-friend of mine has expressed a wish that many of us probably share: “In my job, I want to be respected for my competence much rather than be desired.”
This is a wonderful path of liberation. It can take a lot of pressure from us. It would allow us to be fully acknowledged for what we know and are capable of doing. It might even facilitate both men and women to easier cross lines and to step into behaviors that are likely to be associated more with the feminine or masculine. We might even assume that men could thus show their soft side a little more, while women might be able to stand their ground without instantly be considered as bossy.
Advice 1: Embrace your fullness by allowing your female and male attributes to show
We all have female and male sides. This is what makes us unique and beautiful. But we can not expect others to accept those qualities, if we can not accept them ourselves first.
The following ideas might help you to do so:
Enlist 3 qualities that make you a great woman or man.
Which of those 3 qualities are really related to gender?
Now go back to the beginning and just enjoy the knowledge of being an amazing person for a moment.
Advice 2: Achieving freedom requires the setting of boundaries
I would like to add another advice on this topic. I have experienced several moments of disrespect in the workplace. Although I don`t want to go into all the details, there was still an important lesson to be learned, which I want to share with you.
In my first jobs I was quite regularly confronted with what we now call sexual harassment. Back then, I wasn’t even aware of such a thing. I didn’t know that I actually had the right to call superiors out, when they told me that I had only gotten the job because of my body. I was very young then and insecure about myself in the job. Probably another reason, why I did not show any boundaries as another so-called sales coach told me to just put on a white, tight t-shirt for sales meeting.
Let me come to the advice. It doesn`t matter if boy or girl, you have the right to set boundaries and to call people out, when they cross those boundaries. At times, you might feel insecure in your job. That does not mean you have to accept everything. Don`t buy into the insecurities. Deep in your heart you know your rights and you know what self-respect and self-esteem feels like. Act upon it. You have the right to say “no”! And this goes way beyond the workplace. Thanks for being stronger than I was back then and thus serving as an example to others.
Finding the signposts towards freedom
Simone de Beauvoir emphasizes that the biggest challenge humans face is to give their lives true meaning. Yet, giving meaning requires courage as well as objectives, which are mostly driven from the inside.
What does meaning mean? How do we find meaning? How do we give our lives a true meaning?
I have pondered about these questions for years. I assume you have too. Otherwise you probably wouldn`t be reading this blog now.
A close friend of mine has found her true meaning and calling very early on. She is one of those people that seem to just be fully happy and fulfilled with her job. She is a midwife, loves women, adores babies, and whenever she talks about her job, you just know, it`s right for her. She also never seems to tire.
I have learned from this wonderful friend the following: If you have found your true meaning, you just stick with it. You pursue your passion powered by an energy that evolves from deep within. That energy will keep you going and growing. No matter what.
That doesn`t mean that there won`t be challenges. It won`t even mean that you will never consider another path. But I would like to go so far to argue that even if you choose another path, it will still be closely related.
Advice 3: Have faith in your true meaning
You might not yet have a complete understanding of your true meaning and purpose. There is a reason for this lack of clarity. Even that lack including its respective confusions have a reason. They are wonderful teachers, who equip you with tools that you will need one day to fully act on your purpose.
If you are wondering right now, what this is all about, I would like to invite you to stand in front of a mirror and to look at yourself.
Tell yourself softly and with compassion:
I love life and life loves me.
I love life and life loves me.
I love life and life loves me.
You will notice an instant beam of light and optimism swelling inside you. This will help you to walk towards your meaning even more purposefully and optimistic. And who knows: You might already know everything you need to know about your purpose…
The search for meaning is your compass towards freedom
The search for meaning has been my compass towards freedom. During this search I have never stopped looking for knowledge and wisdom that might be of help. Yoga – the physical movement as well as meditation – helped a lot. Especially when I started studying yoga philosophy and the old scriptures, I had many Aha-moments. It was like findings rays of light at the horizon. I noticed, too, that humans had been searching for the meaning of life ever since they existed. This search isn`t new; it`s nothing our modern society or the millennials or the Gen Y, or whoever, can claim. It is just part of who and what we are.
There is one story that I have studied as part of my yoga studies that I would love to share with you You might have heard of the Bhagavad Gita – the book of the songs of god. It has been written around 3000 BC and is still an inspiration to seekers of meaning today. The story is about the young warrior Arjuna who talks with his friend and charioteer Krishna during battle about the following question: “What is this life all about? Why do I do what I do?“
As I read the book, I noticed that pain and uncertainty are part of the search. But if we don`t dare to move into battle like Arjuna, we will never really be able to see our true selves.
Facing those fears, pains, and uncertainties is part of the spiritual warrior`s path. I can`t say that I have always liked this part. In fact, I had a hard time learning to accept or even love myself truly and fully with all the faults and quirks. Yet, over the years of practicing yoga I have learned self-compassion and forgiving. Being a perfectionist, the forgiving part was particularly important. All of these elements of self-compassion, forgiving, and tenderness are today part of what I would like to call self-love. I am faithful that you as much as I and everyone else around us knows about the creative power of that love — and is capable of embracing it.
But I am also aware that we sometimes loose this connection. As a consequence, our capacity to pursue our meaning and a free life diminishes. Krishna phrases this very nicely: “There is no bigger harm you can do to yourself but to neglect your inner truth.“
Let`s re-formulate this: He encourages Arjuna – and us – to trust our inner truth and wisdom.
Advice 4: Let recurring questions guide you
Every day we think so many thoughts. I am sure, there are a couple of thoughts and ideas that have been revisiting you frequently over the years. Use your energy to look at these frequently recurring ideas about yourself and your life. They will be your orientation points towards your true meaning.
A couple of questions might help you to focus:
Is there a special place that has been calling you?
Have you been thinking about starting a particular hobby?
Have you recently thought a lot about a person you should get in touch with?
Stay with this thought. Explore it. Find out what it has to tell you and give it some energy. You will see something will happen. The universe will go in resonance with your ideas and the more you pursue them, the more the universe will get in motion.
Advice 5: Trust your path
Take little steps on your path of meaning. Don`t push yourself too hard. Be gentle and kind towards yourself. Try to be forgiving and not too perfectionist. Allow steps forward and steps back. It is ok.
If you feel the need to pursue some strategies to get to your meaning, maybe the following might help you:
Start to journal by taking about 10 minutes at the end of every week (either Friday or Sunday). Set yourself a calendar alert to stick to this for at least 2 months and answer the subsequent questions:
Enlist 3 work tasks that made you really happy this week.
Enlist 3 tasks you would rather not do any more.
How healthy do you feel right now on a scale from 1 to 10?
How happy are you in your love life right now on a scale from 1 to 10?
What would you change today if you weren`t afraid?
You will notice an increasing awareness for your likes, dislikes, and state of mind. You will also start to recognize patterns soon. I dearly encourage you to stick to journaling for 2 months though before taking major actions. Why? Because I think compassionate patience will be essential for your stamina to finally go through the changes towards your true self.
Wow – what a journey we had today coming from the beauty of the femine and the masculine to expanding our boundaries unto Arjuna and his battle.
Thanks so much for sticking with me.
Summary of advice
Advice 1: Allow the beauty of your feminine as well as your masculine to come to the surface. It is what makes you unique and special.
Advice 2: You have the right to say now.
Advice 3: I love life and life loves me.
Advice 4: Trust your path and give it increasingly more space through establishing a regular journaling practice.
I am deeply grateful that I had the chance to talk with you today. Thanks for sharing the thoughts on freedom. Please allow yourself, your heart, and your passion to come to life. Because freedom is your chance to live your most wonderful and happy life.
Feel free to share this blog. If you have not done so yet, check out my podcast LebensLiebe.
Talk to you soon.
Love and light