Last week we celebrated the 75th Independence Day of India. We won our freedom after decades of struggle against the British rule. In that context, I was thinking about what independence and freedom mean to me. What do I want freedom from and what am I struggling against? I am sure that you have also felt limited or constrained at various points in your life. I dare say we are all trying to free ourselves in one way or another. Freedom from the job? Maybe the family? A toxic relationship? A failed enterprise? Loneliness? Financial pressures? Societal expectations? Prejudices? Maybe, one wants freedom of expression and another may need the freedom to live a life of dignity and yet another may just be craving for the freedom to be themselves. The list could go on…
But you know what, first and foremost, all of us are prisoners of our minds. We have spun webs around ourselves, so tight that they limit us even more than external factors. We have put ourselves into boxes and shut and sealed them from inside – so much so that we are unable to break free of them. Or perhaps we have put layers upon layers of limitations to protect us from everything that we fear. (Ha Ha, so much for metaphors!!)
We might not always be conscious of this, but I know that it is true for me and I also know that it is true for you. It is important that we disentangle ourselves from this web – so that we are able to live fuller lives, unlimited and uninhibited. So, in the spirit of independence, pledge to free YOUR self – from YOURSELF. It is not easy – nothing is easy – but please make a start – TODAY!
So, let’s start to peel off each layer of self-limiting beliefs and set ourselves free. Here goes:
Freedom from fear – how many times has it happened that you stopped yourself from doing something because you were afraid to fail? Or to make a mistake and feel like a fool in front of others? Multiple times, isn’t it? We live in the prison of our fears and the consequent belief that we will fail and that’s what stops us from achieving our goals and accepting new opportunities. Fear is important to the extent that it saves us from danger, but beyond that it is unproductive, keeps us from taking risks and pursuing what we want from life.
Freedom from complexes and insecurities – Just like fear, our insecurities and complexes hinder our personal and professional lives. A lot of our behavior and actions are steeped into complexes and insecurities we picked up in our childhood and added to along the way. These add to our fears of failure and ridicule and hamper the way we interact in our relationships and the way we manage our work. The feeling that we are not good enough can leave us dissatisfied, unable to give our best and over dependent on external factors to assess our true worth. Our fears and insecurities give birth to our inhibitions and inhibitions hold us back from achieving our true potential.
Freedom from habits – our habits are patterns of our behavior that we follow subconsciously. We are all creatures of habits and many times enslaved to them. When we are born, we are free of habits and over the course of our lives, develop both good and bad habits. Slowly our habits become our identities and without realizing, they also become our prison. You may be wondering where I am going with this – why am I talking about habits in general and why am I not focusing on bad habits only? Isn’t it desirable to have good habits? This is because all habits, good or bad, bind us to a set of behaviors and we fail to appreciate that there may be different perspectives and different ways to respond to people or situations. They mold our thinking and stop us from looking for out of the box solutions. (Good) Habits are desirable, only to the extent that they are in our control and we are able to look beyond them into different possibilities. But once our habits start to control us, it is important to set ourselves free. Rigidity is limiting.
Freedom from guilt – so many of us carry this baggage all through our lives – it burdens us, weighs us down and stops us from growing. Guilt can be an unrelentless source of pain – toxic and self-destructive. It can keep us in the past, stopping us from developing and maintaining positive relationships. Unresolved guilt can lead to anger that can be directed at yourself or others. Mild guilt can make it difficult to enjoy life while deep seated guilt could lead to self-loathing and failure. Learn to forgive yourself, pledge to move on.
Freedom from self-pity – Wallowing in self-pity? Stop it. Stop it now. Because the way forward from self-pity is only downhill. In the worst-case scenario, self-pity is destructive and hampers your ability to overcome adversity and failures. Self-pity is an insidious enemy that captures our mind without even realizing it. From ‘why me’ to feeling hurt and unrecognized, self-pity can become self-destructive pretty quickly and we can find ourselves stuck in this quicksand. When we focus on things that are wrong in our lives, our thoughts start becoming negative, we stop seeing the positives, we stop being grateful and we hope that help or recognition will come from outside. The negative attitude and resultant inactivity lead us towards a downward spiral. Recognise signs of self-pity as soon as they emerge and replace them with gratitude and positive thoughts.
Freedom from the need to conform – haven’t we all grown up thinking that we need to conform, to be part of the crowd. ‘Log kya kahenge’ (what will people say), being the biggest motivator for the same. I understand that there is security in conforming and too much of a risk in trying to be different – but many people keep living their lives as is expected of them rather than how they would like to live. Right from how we should behave as boys and girls, whether we can cry or not basis our gender – to our choice of jobs (or not), to marrying the right gender and having kids (2 ideally) – our lives have been pretty much pre-decided.
Freedom from prejudice and preconceived notions – Knowingly or unknowingly, we all carry prejudices in our mind. Prejudices range from colour, country, religion, accent, language, food, disability and so on. Pre-conceived notions come from our previous experiences or even experiences of others. These prejudices and pre-conceived notions restrain us from experiencing the world in all its beauty. They stop us from growing – from experiencing new things to meeting new people and understanding new perspectives.
A prejudiced mind is ignorant, jumps to conclusions and is far from reality. Be a true seeker – keep yourself bias free. Learn to rise above your judgements and opinions and try to see all aspects of a person or a situation. Keep an open mind, do not pre-judge and soak in all that this beautiful world has to offer.
Freedom from ego – Any path to spirituality will talk about letting go of your ego and that’s a vast topic that I can’t possibly cover in a few lines. But even if you are not seeking spirituality, freedom from ego is important. Sometimes we love our ideas so much, we are not willing to open to others or let go of our ideas. We may think we are perfect and, in the process, look down upon many others. We are so sure that we are right, that we forget the multiple perspectives. And in doing so we end up limiting ourselves, binding ourselves to what WE think is right and missing out on what others have to offer.
Freedom to let go – if you have ever clung on to anything – feelings, ideas, possessions, experiences, memories, behaviors and persons, you will know how difficult it is to let go. But you will also know deep within, how they imprison you. Imagine a tree clinging on to its dead leaves or you clinging on to your dead skin! Letting go is a skill we all need, otherwise we remain mired in the past, in the unnecessary and unable to move forward. Let go and find the freedom to create a new future for yourself. The one you want.
With this I come to the end of the various self-limiting beliefs, emotions and feelings we have. Unless we break free from them, we won’t reach our full potential, and neither will we be able to enjoy life to its fullest. And yes, I know, it is much much easier said than done. I am myself struggling to free myself of so many of them. But I am happy that I have started. That is the first step – I have taken it, and I encourage you to do so as well. Pick one from above and start to unravel it.
I would have loved to write more about addressing each one of them, but each topic is a post in itself – I hope to get to them one by one. In the meantime, tell me which one binds you the most? Which one would you like me to write about first? Or share if you have any tips on managing these.
Please do share your thoughts – you know where to reach me.
Thanks so much for reading! Please comment, share and spread the word!
Regards, Sakshi aka tripleamommy
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