Most people have a desire to find true lasting freedom in life, even if they don’t fully understand what this means. They have a sense that it might just be possible to live a life unconstrained or limited in any way.
This idea almost seems impossible to the rational mind, but somewhere deep within every soul, we know it to be true. Many people will shun this notion of true freedom, because they fear it, but really what is there to fear?
What Is Freedom?
Freedom is a fairly elusive term. It’s not easy to put your finger on it. The English Oxford Dictionary defines freedom as “the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants.”
What Does It Mean To Be Truly Free?
If we take this definition of freedom to be true, then we have to ask ourselves, do I act, speak, and think as I want to, or am I inhibited in some way? And if you are not acting, speaking, and thinking the way you want to, why is this?
What stops us from living this way? Is it wrong to act, speak, and think as we want? Who is it that controls our actions, our speech, and our thinking?
How to Achieve Ultimate Freedom?
There is another freedom – the ultimate freedom that is found in Jesus Christ alone. It is important that we do everything we can to help ourselves to find inner freedom, but it is in surrendering to God that true lasting freedom comes.
In this article, I will be focusing on personal freedom as opposed to freedom in the general sense, such as social or political freedom.
A sign of a free person is seen in their ability to change easily.
There are two ways we can look at freedom
- to be free from something
- to be free to do or be something
Let’s first look at what it means to be free from something. What are we actually getting free from?
- the past
- hurts / trauma
- feelings of inferiority
- unhealthy relationships
- negative thinking
What are you getting free to do or be?
- live the life you really want
- pursue your dreams
- make new choices
- explore your true identity
- develop new relationships (healthy ones!)
- serve the community
- fulfill your divine calling
Free From Something
What are these obstacles that we are getting free from?
Freedom From Fear
FEAR – False Evidence Appearing Real. This acronym is very true. Most of our fears are not real at all. They get magnified in our mind and blown way out of proportion, causing us to live very small lives.
Fear will cripple you if you let it. You must become aware of this emotion in you and learn how to manage it. As most of our fears are not real, it is up to you to train your mind to examine the thoughts that are bringing up the feelings of fear in you.
Your life is not an accident, you didn’t just land here on this planet. You were created by God for a purpose, and He has a plan for your life. If you don’t learn to overcome fear, you will never see this plan come to pass.
Learn to do things even with the fear in you, and as you start to move forward, you will notice the fear dissipate.
Freedom From The Past
Some people live their life in the past, carrying around hurts and memories, holding on to them for years as though nothing good could ever possibly happen again!
When we learn to reflect on the human condition and observe our thoughts and actions daily, we come to realize how foolish we are most of the time.
We live limited lives because we have not been conditioned to believe in ourselves and a lot of this learned behaviour comes from our past.
My parents learned to think this way from their parents and so on. Cultures also like to hold tight to old ways for different reasons, some of them are out of respect or patriotism, but others are out of fear, the fear of change.
Freedom From Hurts and Trauma
This is probably one of the biggest obstacles to growth, carrying around wounds from the past. Everyone has been hurt in some way, no one ever completely escapes it, although we do know that some people have experienced worse pain and suffering than others.
We have heard the testimonies of many victims of abuse, who have endured some of the most horrific situations and we see that they all come to a point in their life where they have to choose, what do I do about this?
Do I hold onto the pain, the hurt, the resentment, the unforgiveness, or do I choose to let it go, forgive and live again?
It is in this choice that freedom comes. You can’t be free if you do not forgive. People who don’t forgive remain in bondage and the sad part is that the perpetrator of the abuse is probably living their life without a thought in the world about the pain they have caused you, or they may even be in the grave. So, do yourself a favour and let it go!
Freedom From Feelings Of Inferiority
This is more common than you might think. Very successful people are often plagued with feelings of inferiority.
You may have heard of people who attain tremendous achievements in life, only to secretly whisper to a friend, “but, I feel like a fraud”. They don’t feel worthy of such success.
Others feel so inferior that they can’t even muster up the confidence to take the risk to achieve anything close to their potential. Feelings of inferiority will keep you in bondage.
One major block to feeling truly free and powerful in your life is a fear of rejection or abandonment.
It is normal to have these fears to some degree from time to time, but if they are paralizing you and making you afraid to take healthy risks in your life, then you are still in bondage and not free.
Freedom From Regrets
Maybe you have some regrets from the past, you feel you should have worked harder at school, gained a higher education or perhaps a romantic relationship didn’t work out the way you had hoped, and you have regrets about that.
Sometimes we feel a financial crisis will leave us with regrets in the future, but research has shown that financial regrets rank low on the list of overall life regrets.
In fact, the top 6 regrets people tend to have in life are to do with:
- Self Care and Development
- Leisure Time
We can’t change the past, so the question we need to ask ourselves is, what can I do today to ensure I don’t experience these regrets again in my life?
Freedom From Anxiety
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a normal and often healthy emotion. However, when people experience regular bouts of high levels of anxiety, it could become a disorder.
“Anxiety disorders affect 40 million people in the United States. However, only 36.9 percent of people with an anxiety disorder receive treatment.” Adam Felman , MedicalNewsToday
Symptoms of anxiety are:
- excessive nervousness
- restlessness, a feeling of being “on edge”
These physical symptoms alter the way a person processes emotions and behaves. It is important to know the difference between normal levels of anxiety and an anxiety disorder that requires treatment.
It is normal to experience anxiety when triggered by a potentially harmful situation. The symptoms of this are, a raised heartbeat, sweating, increased sensitivity to one’s surroundings.
On the other hand, a person with an anxiety disorder will present with much more severe and intense symptoms, such as; nervousness, worry, fear, or even paranoia that are way out of proportion to the trigger.
Freedom From Depression
“Depressive disorders are characterized by persistent feelings of sadness and worthlessness and a lack of desire to engage in formerly pleasurable activities.” (Psychology Today)
Depression is a very common mental health problem today. According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 16 million adults suffer from at least one bout of depression each year.
But, the good news is, it can be treated with psychotherapy, medication or both.
Depression effects the mood and the motivation of individuals. It also interferes with daily living, making even simple tasks difficult to do.
This is because it disrupts the way the brain processes information and interprets experiences.
Some of the symptoms of depression are:
- empty mood
- loss of energy or fatigue
- loss of appetite
- loss of interest in activities that were once pleasurable
- difficulty thinking, concentrating and making decisions
- feelings of hopelessness, even despair leading to suicidal thoughts
If you are feeling depressed right now, know that there is hope and there are many people who can help you. You can be free from depression if you can get to the root cause.
It’s important to have a belief in God or a higher power as sometimes the feeling of depression can be so heavy and overwhelming that it is good to be able to hand this over in prayer or meditation to God.
It is best to get help from professionals if you feel very depressed. One red flag of depression is if you notice yourself isolating.
Part of your recovery will involve other people, so make the most of all the available services, such as counsellors, doctors, psychotherapists, coaches, pastors, priests, etc. You are not alone.
Also, supportive family members and friends can help you if you share how you feel with them.
So, stay hopeful and keep an optimistic outlook. You can overcome depression and find true lasting freedom and joy in your life. It is possible!
Freedom From Debt
Financial freedom is something everyone should have in life. We were not meant to be poor, we have a God who wants to provide for us, but it is fallen man that has brought poverty into the world.
The key to finding financial freedom is to understand this, we are not the ones producing the wealth. We are always dependent upon God for our success. We have our part to play, but the wealth comes from God. Wealth can disappear in the blink of an eye. The bible says:
“Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realize that both come from God. Remember that nothing is certain in life.” Ecclesiastes 7:14
When we strive in our own strength, we fail. We might make money, but there will be a lack somewhere else which will probably show up in a relationship, our health, our joy, or peace.
The key is to make your plans, get into action, let go of the outcome, and trust God.
Freedom From Addictions
“Addiction is a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences.” Wikipedia
Addiction is so prevalent in our society today, more and more addictions are being added to the list as the years roll on. This is probably due to the fast rate of change in the last 30 years.
Human beings are not emotionally prepared for this rapid change, and we are struggling to keep up.
Addictions are a sign of our times, people are turning to rewarding stimuli to escape the pain and stress of just living life. We all know life shouldn’t be like this, but it looks like we have a long way to go to find balance.
What are some of the addictions people suffer from today?
- Work addiction
- Shopping addiction
- Tatoo addiction
- Sex addiction
- Playing Video Games
- Spiritual Obsession (as opposed to religious devotion)
- Compulsive spending
Why are addictions a problem and how do addictions prevent us from being free?
This is an interesting question, because after all, don’t people enjoy these habits? Most people cling tightly to their drug of choice and often refuse to see it as a problem. They just don’t want to give it up.
Giving up addictive behaviour or habits is not easy, but why?
The simple answer to this question is because the addictions suppress painful emotions or feelings that are too difficult to face. All addictions are an escape from reality and hinder growth and progress in life.
When we feel very anxious or emotionally fragile we tend to reach for comfort, a drug to kill the pain. What is your drug of choice, and are you willing to give it up for a life of freedom, peace, and joy?
Freedom comes when we become aware of our addictive habits, and choose to give them up and do the emotional work that needs to be done to heal the root cause of the addiction.
Freedom From Perfectionism
“Perfectionism is defined as a personal standard, attitude, or philosophy that demands perfection and rejects anything less.” (dictionary.com)
The root of perfectionism is a deep sense of unworthiness. When perfectionism shows up, it is often accompanied by depression, anxiety, and anger.
Ultimately, perfectionism isn’t about doing things right, it’s really about control. The perfectionist wants to be accepted, loved and valued, and feels the only way to receive this acceptance is by being perfect in every way.
The problem with perfectionism is that society praises it as it produces good results (for society), but it doesn’t produce good results for the perfectionist, so they need help to get free from it.
Steps To Overcome Perfectionism
- Revaluate your standards – how do other people do things? / are my expectations too high?
- Try relaxing your standards a bit
- Challenge your perfectionist thoughts – how important is it?
- Learn to say “I don’t know.” or “I was wrong.”
Freedom From Unhealthy Relationships
Personally, I feel this is one of the biggest factors to finding true personal freedom in your life. Think about it, what has caused you the most pain and trauma in your life? People, of course!
Most of us start off as children loving and trusting the world around us and then… well, you know!! the list goes on, we’ve all been hurt, rejected, abandoned, betrayed, or whatever else you have experienced in your lifetime to date.
Did you deserve it? Of course not, no one deserves abuse of any kind, but some people think it’s okay to mistreat others. Maybe they were hurt? As the saying goes.. “hurting people,hurt people.“
But, even if your abusers were hurt, do you think it is wise for you to be close to them? Some people say, well they need love, and so they stay in some of the most horrendous relationships when reality tells them every day that their love is not healing their loved one.
In fact, sometimes the perpetrator gets worse if not confronted or challenged.
If you want to be truly free, you must have healthy relationships. Everyone knows this, but not everyone knows what to do about it.
You can be free from unhealthy relationships if you choose to be. As with all freedom, it has to start with a decision to change. You need to get to a stage where you say, enough is enough! I deserve better.. I want a great life with healthy relationships.
Of course, this is easier said that done. You can’t just leave your spouse or partner if you have been together for years. It is up to you to decide what is enough for you, and seek professional help if you are unsure about how you feel.
Counsellors, doctors, coaches, priests, or pastors can all listen to you and give suggestions. What you decide is ultimately up to you, but the help is there if you are feeling confused or afraid.
Freedom From Negative Thinking
Negative thinking is a killer to our quest for freedom. Negative thinking will eat away at any hopeful thought you have of the future. If you are suffering from negative thinking, it is time to find a way to change it.
Remember, you are probably in the habit of thinking in a negative way, so don’t expect things to change overnight. You will have to develop new ways of thinking which is very possible.
You can retrain the pathways to the brain to send new messages. This can be done through daily affirmations, meditation, counseling, or coaching if you are stuck in a negative cycle.
According to Mark Twain, “habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs one step at a time.” So, be patient with yourself.
Freedom from Sin
People don’t like to talk about sin nowadays, but if you are a Christian or know anything about Christianity, you will know that sin displeases God and that it is sin that separates us from God.
According to the Collins dictionary: ‘Sin or a sin is an action or type of behaviour which is believed to break the laws of God.’
The Law of God in The Old Testament was given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai and is referred to as The 10 Commandments.
The 10 Commandments act as a mirror, so that we can see our sin. As St Paul says in the book of Romans, it was the law that showed him his sin. He said, ‘I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.”
The Law of Moses is still valid and good to live our life by, but God knows that because of our weakness we can’t keep it. So, God made a new way through Jesus, His Son.
Free To Do Or Be Something
Once you have worked through the hard stuff, you are now ready to embrace this new beginning and pursue the life you’ve always dreamed of!
Pursue Your Dreams
If you had a lot of obstacles to overcome before reaching this point in your life, don’t worry if you are wondering, “what dreams? I don’t even know if I have any?” I was like that too at the beginning.
I had to do a bit of digging before I uprooted my dormant dreams, but they were still there, so don’t lose heart, yours are too.
Live The Life You Really Want
This is the best part, this is what I call freedom! At last, you can get to a point in your life where you discover that perhaps you were right about a few things, and maybe you can now trust that still small voice within.
People love to give advice, but sometimes their advice is not really what you need as they are coming from their own experiences and let’s be honest, do they really know you, as you do?
Don’t get me wrong, still, listen to peoples’ advice as they can shine some light on your situation. But, be sure to get quiet and make your own decisions in the end.
Make New Choices
You always have choices, no matter what situation you are in. At times, life gets dark and confusing, and we don’t know what to do next.
Many people are stuck in bad relationships, jobs they hate, and lives that are far from anything they had dreamed of, but they don’t know where to begin to create the life they want. Is this you?
Well, it doesn’t have to be this way. What you can do is say to yourself, ‘although I can’t really see a better future for myself right now, I believe in my spirit that it is possible.’
Before I started on this journey of self-discovery, I used to complain of feeling bored! I didn’t know at the time, that boredom was a sign that I needed to change something, or to begin something new that would challenge or inspire me.
“Boredom is the absence of a creative idea.” Bob Proctor
So, what do you need to change and what’s stopping you from doing it? Remember, you do have choices!
Discover Your True Identity
Getting to know yourself is a life long journey, but a vital part of the path to freedom. All relationships have to begin with you, and if you don’t like or understand yourself, how then can you expect to love and understand others?
We are living in a codependent world today. Everyone is seeking their identity in others. They identify themselves by the relationships in their lives and the roles they play. My family, my partner, my friends, my job, etc.
We need relationships and good, healthy relationships can be a great source of joy and fulfillment, but they must be put in the right order.
Why do we reach out to others to fill us, when others are just like us, imperfect human beings? What I’m saying is that if you want to experience true freedom, love, joy, and peace in your life, you have to seek God first, the ultimate source of all love, joy, and peace.
Develop New Relationships with Healthy People
As you begin to change and grow more, your relationships will change too. It happens quite naturally because as you are moving away from old habits and embracing a new way of life, your friends, and probably family too, will not cheer you on!
Yes, this is the sad part. Not everyone wants you to change!
Why don’t they want you to change?
Because they don’t want to lose you. You served them in some way and they liked what you gave to them.
Also, if you decide to change and embrace the light, they are threatened as you are causing them to look at themselves. They don’t like this, because they are not ready to change.
So, this is an important thing to remember if you decide to follow the path to freedom. There will be loss and not everyone you love is going to like it.
Can you cope with this? There is a cost to following the path to truth and freedom, but the rewards far outweigh the cost, so I encourage to keep going forward.
Freedom to Serve
Some people don’t see serving as something that brings freedom. Well, it does bring freedom for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, you are choosing to help others, you are not coming from a place of duty or obligation. In fact, you learn that it is in giving that the blessings in life come.
And secondly, when we serve the community, it makes us feel good, Also, we meet new people who can bless and enrich our lives.
Freedom to Follow Your Divine Calling
Finding and following your divine calling is a process that takes time, we must try different things that we enjoy and learn to tune into what’s working and what helps others.
The reason we first need to overcome our fears and insecurities is because it is this that holds us back from believing in our ability to carry out our God given calling.
To Sum Up
Finding lasting freedom in your life is possible. You are not doomed to a life of slavery, you really can live an amazing, fulfilling life, and be happy every day.
But, as you can see, it does take work, and you must have a willingness to take personal responsibility for yourself and make a decision to change.
You don’t have to do it alone, many people can help you. My future posts will teach you how to work through all these areas in your life, so you can find true lasting freedom and joy!
Remember, true lasting freedom comes from Christ alone. I will explore this more in my future posts. God is not absent from our daily concerns, He is in all things, and wants to work with you in making your dreams a reality!