How to feel free, even when you’re not

 

I’ve had a few personal revelations recently. In the thick of reinventing my life, an unexpected thing happened in Mexico. I realised that I was holding onto beliefs that were absolutely wrong. Beliefs that stopped me from feeling truly free. Freedom is one of my highest values, I will do almost anything to feel free. Discovering that I had built my own gilded cage felt startling.

 

Here are some examples.

 

When my van broke down in Australia 3 years ago, and I couldn’t determine where I wanted to live next, I decided that I was incapable of choosing a place to call home. It felt heartbreaking, having all the choices in the world, and not feeling called to, or at home, anywhere. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to be with people that I loved. So I settled on the idea that I could and would live anywhere, as long as I was with someone I loved.

 

With this simple decision, I gave my freedom and power away. The freedom and power to choose, to make my own decisions and to follow my own heart.

 

In the past few weeks, I’ve had to recall that decision that I made. I was wrong. Tying myself to a person in order to choose a place to stay didn’t work. Nor was it fair on the other person. So I’ve changed my mind. I can choose places that I want to call home. And from now on, I will.

 

For years I believed that I wasn’t any good at running. As a kid, I loved running. I was all limbs and very fast. In my late teens, after not running for a long time, I went for a run with a friend one day. After a short 10 minutes, my lungs wanted to explode out of my chest, my hands were sweaty, and I was exhausted. I decided it meant that running was not for me and made excuses and gave reasons why I wasn’t a runner.

 

For years, I never gave running another chance, until one day, recently, walking on the beach I broke into a slow jog. It felt exhilarating but also tiring. Every time the sand gave way under my feet or I had to lift them higher to elude a wave I thought about stopping. Then my handsome man appeared alongside me. Ever practical he said, “If you want to start running, it’s best to start with intervals”. So he timed me, 5 minutes of running, 5 minutes of walking, 5 minutes of running, 5 minutes of walking… The next day he increased the intervals, 6 minutes of running, 5 minutes of walking, 6 minutes of running, 5 minutes of walking… After a week I was running for 20 minutes straight.

 

I am surprised how much I love it. The first 5 minutes are the hardest, but as my breathing and feet find their rhythm, and my body warms up, I enter a phase of lucid consciousness where nothing exists but the feeling of being alive. I wonder to myself how long I’ve kept myself from this feeling because of a tiny decision I made years ago.

 

I have a friend who is very smart, smarter than most. She is quick-witted, intelligent and picks things up fast. She desperately wants to get out of the 9-5 job and monotonous life she’s created for herself but she believes that she can’t. At some point, she decided that leaving her job and the city she lives in is a greater risk than anything else. Every which way she turns, all she sees is obstacles and dead ends.

 

“I just want to be free!” she moans to me frequently. “You can be.” I always reply. “No, I can’t.” is her answer. There’s nowhere else I can live and there’s no other job that will give me the benefits of this one.” “Your decision.” I smile. Just like me, she has made a decision that stops her from doing something that makes her feel free.

 

It’s fascinating just how often my friends and I unintentionally restrict ourselves by making decisions and telling our selves stories about who we are and what we are capable of. Even though we a freedom-seekers and rebels and truth-speakers, we still find ourselves caught in a web woven by our desires to feel in control.

 

I am dedicated to a lifetime of doing the work of releasing these limiting beliefs that lead to liberation. So much so, I even teach this class on the process that I use to do exactly that.

 

It turns out the key to feeling free, even when you’re not is to make a new decision. I am free when I recognize that control is only an illusion.

 

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