Freedom Begins as a State of Mind …
This year’s Canada Day and Independence Day celebrations inspired me to question what it is we were all celebrating. The word freedom exploded in my head with every firecracker that popped in the neighbourhood. I am a proud Canadian with a great respect and appreciation for our neighbours to the south…. America , The Land Of The Free, is like a big brother to us. We share most of the North American continent, and also many of the same values – among them our Freedoms… freedom of speech, freedom of choice, freedom of religion and culture – the freedom to be who we want to be… Yet I can’t help but feel that we have deluded ourselves in our belief that we are free.
Interesting how serendipity operates… just as I was finishing this article, I received a note from an old friend, Hugh, a Canadian businessman, now in Islamabad . This paragraph caught my attention:
“One thing I miss is freedom. I cannot get into a car and drive, I have to be driven everywhere, for security reasons. So I am either at the office or in the guest house where I live. I get to talk to the people at the office, but so far don’t have many contacts outside. Tomorrow, Sunday, I will get the guest house driver to take me shopping for fruits.
In fact, I feel that most of us on planet Earth are living in shackles… enslaved by our struggle to “get ahead”, tied to our need for material things, caught up in our desire for success or for love, locked up in fear, protecting ourselves, our families, our stuff… the situation in Islamabad – and in many cities around the globe is a physical manifestation of the fears, the limits and boundaries that each of us carries within us.
The trouble is that our shackles are invisible – our chains are in our minds, created by our beliefs, tightened by our fears.
What we believe about ourselves and our world establishes some clear boundaries, beyond which we must not venture….. Changing our minds is very much like crossing a border to another country…upturning our beliefs lands us in a foreign land, which sets off a whole lot of different reactions and emotions. I, like my friend Hugh, am always excited to be exploring in a new world. I am fascinated and inspired by new cultures, news tastes, sounds and smells… but for many others, such adventures are fearful, they much prefer to stick to what they know, limited by what they believe to be “tried and true”, safe and secure.
The good news is that we are all free to stay or to go, to limit ourselves, or not, and we are free to choose where we go, when and with whom. Or are we? My friend Hugh is clearly not free to go where he wants. In order to achieve his goals, he must co-operate with the rules, and for his own safety, he must be sensitive to the security issues. Again, a powerful analogy for the way we all function in life.
Each of us participates in some way in a family, a community, a country. Society shapes our attitudes and beliefs… our families and communities define what behaviour is acceptable and what is not… and the conditioning to the “rules” begins while we’re still in the womb, with the expectations and beliefs that are set for a child before the babe is even in Mom’s arms…. Before we are ever born, our families and communities begin shaping our world, and limiting our freedom, defining where we will go, when, with whom and even why.
I believe that to claim our freedom, we must be willing to expand our internal boundaries, to question, challenge what we have believed about ourselves and the world.
Change your mind, and you can change your world…free yourself… allow yourself to shift perspectives, to take a different point of view… Notice those limiting beliefs, then deliberately begin to expand your horizons. Take a different route to work, try a new recipe, listen to a different genre of music, experiment with some new ethnic restaurants, try a new market, a new hobby, a new book, connect with some new people… and let go of your ideas about what is weird, ugly, or stupid. Open your mind and you will open to new opportunities, for love, for money, for wisdom, knowledge and growth, or just for some good fun and happy memories.
Celebrate your freedom! Give yourself the magnificent, priceless gift of your freedom – break out of the box!