Defining Freedom

Dare to Seek Freedom the name I chose for this blog. But what is FREEDOM? Merriam Webster online dictionary defines it like this:

What does freedom mean to you?

Note that there are a few options. Among the options are a number of subjective words which reflect the individual nature of its true meaning. The take home message being that it is something that is completely dependent on relative perspective and perception.

When I speak of freedom, I guess I’m talking mostly about meanings a) and b). Specifically I refer to liberation from the social structure which is imposed on all societies I have been part of and the perceived need to earn money and consume product: the phenomenon of these factors taking a central role in the use of our time, our behaviours and our psyche.

What does freedom mean to you? What needs do you have that need to be met in order to consider yourself free?

Most of this blog focusses on things that are happening: events, actions, experiences. By far the most important are the experiences because they comprise thoughts and perceptions. This is becoming clearer and clearer on an experiential level for me. Logically, it’s been clear for a long time, but as the perceived barriers to freedom become less important, it becomes more apparent that freedom is as the definition says: a “STATE of being”.

States being both consciously and unconsciously controlled psychological modes, they are essentially choices… independent of (although often influenced by) environment or situations. They are reflexive reactions or conscious responses that tend to become habitual. Freedom too, is a choice about how we feel towards situations and actions we undertake.

The message is universal among different religious texts, spiritual writings, psychological works and self-help books: that experience is a function of personal belief/perception rather than an inevitable, inflexible cause-and-effect relationship. Beliefs shape reality.

More studies than I care to look up show similar physical adaptation or performance improvement using psychological rehearsal of skills as were seen in participants who physically performed the same exercises. It is the foundation for the effectiveness of psychological tools such as neurolinguistic programming (NLP) and hypnosis. One such program (“Positivity”, by Paul McKenna) quotes Henry Ford as saying “whether you think you can do something or whether you think you can’t, you’re usually right” and cites the fact that within a year of Roger Bannister first breaking the four-minute-mile ceiling, thirty-seven others did too. The best-selling book/DVD “The Secret” talks of it in the form of the law of attraction. Louise Hay speaks of it in her work “You Can Heal Your Life”. Neurologists are finding that our brains actually physically change according to which thoughts we habitually choose: strengthening links allowing our favoured responses and actually removing links for responses we choose infrequently. The Bible, Bhagavad Gita and Buddhist teachers are only a few of the religious sources we have implying that it is the belief/intention behind an action/situation which shapes our experience of it. Entrepreneurial guides, managerial manuals, social anthropology, confidence boosters… The list goes on.

This post comes about because I’ve managed to build a situation where I have minimal expenses, don’t necessarily NEED to work right now (although inevitably will need to soon if I choose not to) and the work I choose to do may not pay well, but is enjoyable. There most definitely is an “absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action”, yet I am not free.

Far from it. In fact, the further down this rabbit hole I travel, the more I notice that the obstacles are insubstantial and in fact non-existent. Except that they still create barriers. While I meet them head-on and am fully prepared to do battle with these mental hindrances, they continue their evasion. Perhaps that view of opposition is in fact part of the cause.

Recently, I’ve found the use of communication as a metaphor for life perception quite useful. While I almost never use it, I thought I understood Non-Violent Communication. Turns out, on listening to Marshall Rosenberg’s audio book of that name, there’s a lot still to learn. It highlights, in a slightly different way, the importance of understanding emotional needs. It’s about translating that experience into words and actions with a view to meeting those needs. Our internal perception of the world can be viewed in much the same way, as our perception reflects feelings of how we feel our needs are being met or not.

So what are your emotional needs? How do your emotions drive your perception of the world? … of people? … of your situation? … of freedom? What actions can you take (or influence others to take) that could make you more free?

For me, it will ultimately come down to overcoming fear. With that in mind, I want to share an inspirational video by a guy whose channel I follow: Prince EA

While you are there, check out a few of his other videos. He’s a lesson in being open and honest with ourselves.


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