My concept of freedom is something that really moves me. It’s the driving force behind a lot of my personal development work, and is something I strive to incorporate into my life every day. Travelling is something which really helps me progress in this area, as I encounter many people who live with degrees of this freedom, and many experiences which bring it out in me. I believe once a person achieves freedom, in my sense of the word, there will be no limit to how amazing their life can become, and how much joy they can experience.
Freedom is a pretty generic term though, so let me explain what I’m talking about.
So the word freedom probably conjures up a bunch of different images in your head when you hear it, so I’ll first tell you what I’m not talking about. It’s not the freedom like in the movie The Shawshank Redemption, as in freedom from confinement… and it’s not the “FREEEEEDOOOOM!” you think of from Braveheart (although that is one of my favorite movies of all time) as in freedom from enslavement or oppression. What I’m referring to isn’t the physical side of freedom, but more of an internal mental freedom.
I’m talking about being mentally free from the things that keep you from being who you really are. It’s about being free from negativity, fear, judgment. It’s about getting rid of the things in the way, the things that hold you back and keep your true self suppressed.
Freedom from Negativity
When I talk about being free from negativity I mean being free from the control your negative emotions and feelings have over your life. Emotions such as anger, jealousy, regret, and hatred play through the minds of many and can have stressful and damaging effects over time.
Now freedom from negativity doesn’t mean removing these negative emotions from your life, it means freeing yourself from their control over you. If someone does you wrong it’s okay to feel angry, but it shouldn’t be a compulsive need to feel angry. The negative emotions then become a choice rather than a reaction.
For example if someone cuts you off while you are driving you don’t HAVE to respond with anger, when someone cuts me off I just ignore it, I personally choose not to let it bother me because I think “Why should I let that persons foolish actions make me angry, why should that person have power over me?” When you react compulsively to a situation you give your power away, you let others control you, people can then push your buttons if they want.
Living with these negative emotions on a daily bases actually does your body harm and can cause it to slowly break down over time. For some really interesting information about this (and a whole lot more cool stuff) I suggest you check out the movie “What the Bleep Do We Know?”
So how do you actually go about freeing yourself from this negativity? The key to freeing yourself from it is awareness. Become aware of how you react to things, are your emotions out of your control? There is always a split second that comes after an event happens and before you react to it. Try to be aware in this moment, this is when you can choose how you want to react. If you decide the specific situation isn’t worth getting upset over then just let it go. This will become much easier over time as you essentially reprogram yourself to become less reactive, and take more control over yourself.
Freedom from Fear
Our physical bodies are hardwired for fear. Through our past years of evolution we have been programmed to react to fearful situations with a fight or flight mechanism.
Back in the day of our ancestors where things were a whole lot more dangerous and split second reactions could mean the difference between life and death this would have been really handy. The fear would get our adrenalin pumping, and our feet moving, it would have been really useful in keeping us alive.
Now this used to be useful, but in today’s world, where things are a whole lot more safe in most areas of the world this fear tends to hinder our lives a whole lot more than it helps. If you live in a peaceful country then chances are this same type of fear will hardly ever be useful to you. Common sense is enough to keep you from doing things that will bring you harm, but this same fear that helped our ancestors remains and holds up back in today’s world.
It’s obvious how we are programmed to fear physical danger but a good question one might ask is “Why are we so afraid of certain social situations?” This social judgment fear is the same fear we feel during public speaking (which is a fear ranked higher than the fear of death), or the fear of approaching an attractive member of the opposite sex. It’s also the fear that has people give into peer pressure, and encourages people that it’s more important to fit in rather than to do what they believe in.
A self help expert that specializes in dating named David DeAngelo talks in depth about where this social fear comes from. He talks about how in the past humans lived in smaller social constructs such as tribes for many years. This tribe would work and hunt together to ensure everyone’s survival. It is believed that this social fear comes from the fact that, back in the tribal days if you acted out, or didn’t fit in, or were socially rejected in some way you could be out casted from the tribe. Being out casted would make it much more difficult to survive. Being socially rejected is something we are wired to fear because back in those days it could lead to our death.
Once you start to remove fear from your life you open yourself up to a world of opportunities you may have otherwise missed. You become free to talk to that attractive person, who may turn into a long time companion, you become free to experience scary things such as skydiving which may fuel a lifelong passion you didn’t know you had. You become free to take bigger risks, which can turn into much bigger rewards, and free to achieve things that you wouldn’t have even attempted before.
A really cool tip I heard while travelling was to use fear as a motivating reason to act. If there’s anytime you notice yourself not doing something that you wanted to and the main reason behind your hesitation is a fear of doing it, then you HAVE to do it. Make this a solid rule that you don’t let yourself disobey. This is an excellent way to build courage and conquer your fears one by one.
Freedom from Judgment
Being free from judgment is difficult because the mind always wants to constantly put labels and classifications onto everything it encounters. The key is to become aware of the preconceptions and initial judgments you have of others and prevent them from being applied to the person immediately and in a negative way.
You might say… but aren’t judgments a good thing? Isn’t it good to label people in certain ways so that you know how to deal with them? I would like to suggest that making judgments on others can prove to be more harmful to your perceptions than it can be useful.
The reality is your initial assumptions about others can often be proven wrong. Chances are you don’t understand the person your judging, and you don’t know their story or their history. The person you just met who seems to be a negative, depressed, and overly emotional person may in truth be a positive, down to earth person who is currently and temporarily grieving the loss of a loved one.
Judging others can also create a negative and competitive mindset. Typically when you judge others you set yourself up to expect judgment on the same issues for yourself. Your ego also judges others negatively to make you feel better about your own life situation in a competitive fashion.
Keep in mind that racism stems from judging others based on initial appearances rather than the truth about who they are.
If you’ve read my article on Believing is Seeing you will also know that it will be easy to find evidence that supports the judgments you make about others can whether the judgments are accurate or not.
Being free from judgment does not mean you ignore the things you notice and learn about who people are. If someone has a history of being dishonest with you I’m not saying you should ignore that fact and place your trust in them. But you don’t need to negatively judge them for it, it’s quite enough to recognize certain personality traits and deal with the accordingly.
The True Self
When you try to live with this freedom, you begin to free yourself from your false self image. Your false self is the image you hold in your mind about who you are, filled with all your negativity, fears, judgments and flaws. It is not the real you, which comes out when you free yourself from the control these things have over you. The real you is your true self at the core of your being.
Your true self is free from judgment and doesn’t care what other people think of you. When you’re in line with your true self you’re free to live life by your own values. You don’t let the negative opinions of others, or society in general, hold you back because you believe in yourself. You’re free to be completely honest with your opinions and beliefs without worrying about how others see them.
Your true self is free from fear and is able to follow your passions and desires without fear of failure or rejection. Without fear you are free to set huge goals and aspirations for your life, and have the courage to pursue them. You’re free to go dancing in the rain if you feel like it, even if you’re by yourself, even if there are people watching. You’re free to experience the world however you see fit.
Your true self is free from negativity and lives in a state of peace and joy. You are free to connect with people and see the good in everyone you meet. Your true free self attracts amazing experience and people into your life, and creates beautiful stories and memories that last. Your true self is powerful and unaffected by the negativity of others.
Life is meant to be an awesome experience, and each step towards freedom brings you closer to the awesome true self that you are meant to be.
Travelling is in my opinion the most powerful way to work on freeing yourself in the ways described above.
Travelling pretty much forces you to become more free. While travelling not only are you more free in the literal sense of the word, with no home base to tie you down to, but you’re also away from your confining daily routine which keeps you from experiencing new things to challenge you.
Travelling is all about having an awesome fun time, and because of this you tend to learn how to let things which would normally cause a negative reaction from you slide. Travelers are all searching for good times and are generally all very friendly towards each other. This positive attitude can be very helpful it helping you release the negative mindsets you get caught up in during your normal life.
While travelling your also likely to encounter many situations that build courage and free you from fear. This is especially true if you try travelling solo and are forced to be very independent in unfamiliar places. Learning to quickly befriend strangers becomes almost second nature, and if you’re the adventurous type you’ll find many ways to challenge your fear through things like bungee jumping or cliff diving. The mindset you find yourself in while travelling about ‘experiencing as much as possible’ definitely helps you fight your fear of doing things.
Perhaps most prevalent when travelling is the change of perspectives that come with learning about new people and cultures. When you witness how other people live their lives in vastly different ways your old need to judge people on ways they are different from you fades away, you begin to accept people for who they are rather than wanting them to be a certain way. If you travel to poorer regions of certain countries you also get to see how people can live with so much less than you, and the suffering they go through just to survive. This is quite humbling and really helps you appreciate your own life.
Traveling brings upon a lot of self reflection and expanded awareness which helps you to question how you live your own life.
The next time you feel yourself caught up in a negative mindset, or find yourself afraid to do something that you want to, or feel yourself negatively judging others, take a second to stop, become aware and free yourself. Let the true free you out to play. 😉