Finding True Freedom

Have you ever got to a point in your life where you felt you had everything, yet there was still something missing? In my twenties, my external success should have been enough, yet I wasn’t happy. The things I had accumulated, my social status and professional achievements, all seemed too fragile, too empty, to be all there was. I thirsted for something more, but that something was intangible. Freedom, Love. They just sounded like words from a hippie fest, and I didn’t know how to go about experiencing them.

The common perception of freedom seems trite when true freedom has been tasted. We think freedom is being allowed to do what we want and go where we choose. Yet this definition of freedom overlooks the fact that the person who controls and judges us the most is ourselves. True freedom is not something that can be granted or taken away by another, as any fan of Braveheart knows. Only you have the power to grant yourself true freedom.

Freedom is self acceptance. It is allowing yourself to be, letting go of the desperate need for external approval that brings us to limit and control ourselves, adopting uncomfortable social norms in order to fit in. External approval will never be enough as long as we continue craving it, and this is true because of one simple truth: we do not approve of ourselves. Because of this, we try to get others to do it for us.

How do you fill an internal hole with external recognition? How can other people’s praise make up for our own self-criticism? Substituting self love with external approval is like turning up the television to drown out the cries of a baby – a distraction that does nothing to help the situation.

To become aware of this is to make a fundamental shift in perception: the shift from victimhood to taking responsibility. This is what true responsibility is all about: taking charge of the only thing that I have control over: the choice I make in this moment. What are you focusing on now? You can focus on what other people think of you, or you can focus on embracing yourself. You can focus on what you perceive as wrong and lacking, or you can focus on appreciation. There lies our power as human beings, and in reality the only power we ever have: the power of choice. When you become aware of that, you will realize how important your choices are in every moment, for what you choose to focus on, is what grows.

True freedom is freedom from victimhood. It is about taking responsibility for who you are, embracing who you are and trusting in your own inner voice. When you find true freedom, no one can take it away from you.

Isha Judd is an internationally renowned spiritual teacher and author; her latest book and movie, Why Walk When You Can Fly? explain her system for self-love and the expansion of consciousness. Learn more at www.whywalkwhenyoucanfly.com.

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62 comments

Patricia H.
Patricia H.3 years ago

thanks for sharing

Emma S.
Emma S.4 years ago

Thank you for this. Worrying about what other people think can be crippling, so I tried to stop doing it. This felt a bit uncaring, or maybe arrogant, so I had to tweak things a bit... I decided not to care about what other people thought (you can't hurt anyone in the thoughts), but to care what they felt.

I was surprised to hear myself described, a short while ago, as someone comfortable in her own skin. I thought about it, and decided it was probably so. No one else's would fit as well.

Stephanie I.

Great Thanks!

Tori W.
Past Member 5 years ago

I think that true freedom is found in accepting ourselves, but I also think that this is rare at certain ages. For each decade, I think there are some changes that can occur if we are open and wiling to risk. Not everyone will, but accepting who we are, learning to like ourselves, and take care of ourselves does take some maturity. It is a wonderfully fulfilling emotion and a source of strength and confidence, not to always be right, but to be willing to risk to be wrong. It's ok. Thank you for this wonderful article!

Irina Ilieva
Irina Petrova5 years ago

superb thanks

Linh Tran
Linh Tran5 years ago

Awesome!

Cindy B.
Cindy Black5 years ago

Hmmm.... I've thought a lot about this. I agree one should not FOCUS on externalities, or "have a desperate, consuming need" to please others. I agree that consciously attending to and visualizing a "freedom of the spirit" does go a long way to allowing/enhancing that freedom. But that said, I think the argument presented here is rather simplistic. For one thing, all normal people do "internalize" certain parental teachings and societal norms, all those "shoulds and oughts;" then they come to love themselves and judge themselves based on how well they meet those self-expectations. Disentangling "the world's" from one's own values becomes very difficult. Also, as a counselor & psychologist, I posit that CONTEXT, or the external limitations, expectations & boundaries that're a part of all our lives, actually serve a vital purpose in allowing us to develop our sense of identity, personality, priorities, etc. WITHOUT that "mirror" presented by other people's reactions to us, without the results of our continual "dance," as it were, vis a vis the limitations and contexts placed upon us, I believe we would be lost souls and very unhappy ones. Especially today, "no man is an island" and thus no matter our wish to be "truly free," we still must conform to the expectations and demands of myriad people and situations in our lives, and we continually compare ourselves against societal norms, expectations, role models... "Complete freedom?" Quite impossible.

Alyssa Riley
Alyssa Riley5 years ago

I'm glad I have my truee freedom and inner peace, a happy thing makes a happy being makes another being happy.

Ametha D.
Ametha D.5 years ago

So true!

Kyrah N.
Kyrah N.5 years ago

This is a great article. I agree that we need to have self acceptance. This is something that I have been workng on. I decided I was tired of always performing my life for others to see and I wanted to live my way. Most people didnt approve of my choices because they felt they would have to change, so they tried to drag me down. But I am learning that if I choose to live my way I would find greater happiness in my life, so I stepped out and choose not to let anyone drag me down.