Freedom is a word we throw around in America as casually as a Frisbee. We place our hands over our hearts and bellow, “o’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”
We discuss ideas like “freedom of speech” as soon as we learn to read and associate war with “fighting for freedom.” Remember how after 9-11 the US Government even replaced the word “French” with “freedom” in front of “fries”?
Yet despite how much the word “freedom” has been programmed into our brains, so many of us seem to feel trapped.
We work absurdly long hours for jobs that don’t fuel our passion, we stay in relationships that don’t feel good, we habitually practice patterns that lead to unhappiness, and many of us lead lives that leave us discontent.
What kind of freedom is that?
When I left my life as I knew it to wander the world, I discovered a freedom more expansive than I ever dreamed possible. And frankly, it wasn’t because other places and people in the world are more “free” than Americans. It was because I stepped outside of the box I had built around myself.
If you feel trapped, I want you to know that the path to freedom lies before you. The path to freedom is open and ready. The question is, are you?
Yes? Keep reading.
Acknowledge Your Personal Power
Before I started traveling, I often blamed others for the limitations I felt in my life. I blamed my friends for not being more adventurous or available. I blamed my boyfriend for not being more loving and open. I blamed my family for raising me to be who I was.
But the blame never got me anywhere.
Traveling on my own, I had to take responsibility for anything from how I would find my way across a country on chicken buses to where I’d be sleeping that night. I realized that I alone determined how my day, and ultimately my life, would unfold.
Freedom is not something that your parents, your boss, or even your country can give you. Freedom lies in your hands. If you want to truly live a life without boundaries, the first step is to acknowledge your own personal power. Acknowledge that you alone hold the key to your cage. Pull it out of your pocket and have the courage to open the door.
Have the Courage to Change
Many of us speak of the ways we want to change our lives or ourselves. Yet we often spend years repeating a cycle that we already know doesn’t work. Why on earth do we do that? Why do we do the things that we already know don’t lead us to happiness? One word: fear.
We adamantly resist change, no matter how much we want it, out of fear of uncertainty. We’d rather repeat a limiting behavior than face the unknown. However to step onto the path of our personal greatness, we must have the courage to change.
This means letting go of the ideas you have about who you think you are. It also means letting go of the expectations that others place on you. You are a multi-dimensional evolving being. What serves you in one moment may not serve you the next. Be open and adaptable to change.
Read my post 10 Ways to Get Unstuck and Create Change Now to help you get out of this cycle and moving in the right direction.
Start Doing What You Want
How is it that so many of us have become conditioned to be people pleasers? We tie up our self worth in what others think of us and what society tells us we “should” be doing. To truly embrace freedom you must be your authentic self, which starts with doing what you want. Prioritize yourself, set boundaries, and take responsibility for your happiness.
For me, this is the most liberating part of traveling alone. Each day I decide exactly what I want to do, when I want to do it, and how I want to do it. I get to do the things that bring me, and me alone, the greatest bliss.
If this sounds selfish to you, it doesn’t have to. You can march to the beat of your own drum while creating a beautiful melody with the rest of the world. In fact, the better you take care of yourself, the easier it is to show up for others. By embracing and expressing your authenticity, you inspire others to do the same. By doing what fulfills you instead of what is “expected” of you, acts of service come from the heart free of resentment. Most importantly, it’s much easier to release expectations of others and love them simply for who they are.
Get Out of the System and Create Your Own
I remember a time when I looked to those around me for guidance. I thought my options were limited to what others were doing and what paths already existed. However nothing that already existed could possibly be my true calling, because I’m completely unique. Just like you.
Once I stepped out of the system that I knew, living in the jungle in Costa Rica and eventually traveling all over the world, I realized that anything I could conceive I could create. If you truly want to live the life of your dreams, you need to do the same. Not necessarily in the same way. You need to do it your way.
Challenge yourself to look beyond the system and the programming that you know, and consider a life of possibility. Forget what everyone else is doing, forget what has already been done. Ask yourself what a life of bliss looks like to you, and how you are best suited to make the world a better place. Then go out and do that.
If you’ve got no idea, read my post How to Figure Out What the F&*K You Should Be Doing With Your Life.
Let Go of What You Can’t Control
Freedom is absolutely being able to choose where you want to be, who you want to be, and how you want to live. But freedom is so much more than that. Freedom is ultimately about experiencing happiness no matter your outside circumstances. To discover that freedom, you must learn to surrender.
Things will happen in life that are beyond your control. Delayed flights, natural disasters, and perhaps most notably the way that others decide to live their lives. You can complain about it or fight against it, or you can choose to accept what is beyond you and move on. The former brings struggle, the latter brings peace. Choosing to surrender can be as small as taking a deep breath in heavy traffic or as big as deciding to accept others without criticizing them or expecting them to change.
Know when to fight and know when to let go.
See the Positive Over the Negative
Some might say there is no quick fix to happiness. I happen to disagree. I believe that happiness occurs the moment we decide to choose a positive outlook. If you feel trapped by something in your life, decide to change your perspective. Decide to look at the situation positively.
This might mean appreciating how a challenging situation serves you in your life. If it doesn’t serve you, this might mean seeing that you have the capacity to change it. No matter the outcome, the moment you choose to see things positively, you start owning your circumstances instead of letting your circumstances own you.
Bring Down Your Walls
Imagine how much more freely you could live, if you not only tore down the boundaries between you and possibility, but if you tore down your walls of self-protection?
We all have them. Some of us built them after an intense heartbreak. Others from a long series of rejection. Or maybe some of us were so afraid of feeling too deeply that we built them before anyone could come in to touch us. Those walls may keep us safe, but they come at a high cost. They prevent us from ever being truly free.
Despite our physical bodies that separate us from one another, we are all composed of the same matter. Actually, everything in the universe is composed of the same matter. When we stop seeing ourselves as separate, and start realizing how we’re all connected, we experience a far greater expansiveness. Lean into that expansiveness and you will know the true meaning of freedom.
Are you living a life of freedom? If yes, how did you do it? If no, what holds you back?