Saturday, August 2, 2008

Psychological Freedom


Many consider this to be the most important word in the human language. Wars have been fought, lives lost and revolutions won, all for the goal of freedom.

In the film "Braveheart," Met Gibson played William Wallace, a 12th-century Scotsman determined to win f21D7reedom for himself and his country.

While not completely accurate historically, the film's depiction of Wallace's passion for freedom captured hearts and minds.

As I pondered the popularity of "Braveheart" and the coming Fourth of July celebration, I decided to apply the notion of freedom to our emotional and psychological lives.

In order to be emotionally and psychologically free, or to have what I'll call "mental freedom," we need to have "freedom from" and "freedom to."

Freedom from

The past - This does not mean to forget the past. It's important to remember the old saying, "Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it."

But an important freedom is to be free of the weight, or "emotional charge," of the past.

Too much stress - A certain amount of stress is good for us; it leads us to take action. Too much stress freezes us and leads to inaction.

Pressure - Stress comes from the outside, while pressure comes from what we tell ourselves about the stress. It's "how can I ever get all this done?" vs. "I can handle this."

Pressure is an inside job.

Abuse, of any kind - There has been a lot of emphasis recently on the important issues of physical and sexual abuse. At the same time, we also need freedom from emotional and verbal abuse.

Freedom to

Achieve your potential.

Do work you enjoy.

Be yourself.

To dream - Everybody has a dream. What's yours? Go for it.

Think for yourself - Never, ever, let anyone do your thinking for you. Others may disagree with you, and that can be uncomfortable, or worse.

At the same time, as Robert Louis Stevenson once said, "Sooner or later, we all sit down to a banquet of consequences." Make decisions on a daily basis to make sure that's a banquet you would enjoy.

To love and be loved.

To say no. Unless we can say no, our yes really doesn't mean much.

To change - Whether it's a change in direction, in priorities, maturity level, beliefs, or something else equally important, the freedom to change one's life is crucial to mental freedom.

As one person so aptly said, "It's good to be able to change our lives while life is changing us."

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