Week 5 - Freedom
Freedom - can we truly feel free?
What makes you feel trapped in life?
Is it your circumstances? Where you were born, your social upbringing, your family, the expectations of what someone from your background can or cannot do.
I know of people who were expected from birth to do a certain job because of where they were born. Be a miner, be a steel worker, be a farmer, be a wife, be a mother. All determined for them whilst still in the womb or even before.
Some people are trapped by their friends and family - "people like us don't do that", they may put you down or ridicule you for doing something that others in your community or area wouldn't do.
Some people are trapped by love - they may have been brought up to feel that self-care and love of the self is wrong and that devoting your life to caring for others is your lot in life.
Perhaps trapped by caring for others so never able to fly and believe in your own dreams.
Some are trapped by fear - fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of ridicule, fear of a what might or might not happen.
Some are trapped by the past - anger, sadness, fear, hurt, and guilt, all there to say "NO" you cannot do that.
Some are trapped by circumstances - a forced marriage, a child born earlier than planned though still loved or maybe not.
Some are trapped by violence, repression, hate, and their voices have been diminished so they cannot be heard.
Some are trapped by money - golden handcuffs in a job you hate, where people will say you are mad and look at you with resentment, or is it jealousy if you quit.
Others trapped by debts, trapped by a relationship with money that has been passed down from generation to generation.
What would it feel like to feel free? What does your freedom look like?
Often we think freedom has to be a grand plan. When I searched for an image representing freedom there were motorbikes, surfers, yoga poses, husky sleighs, but for most people freedom is much simpler, yet harder to grasp.
Perhaps freedom for you is to take a long bath a night in peace and quiet. Perhaps it is not having to worry about paying the bills. It could be someone baby sitting your child or your elderly parent, so you can have time for you.
Little things can make us feel free;
A walk in nature, reading a book and escaping to a fantastical place, watching a film, watching the stars, going out for a drink with friends.
But how do we know when we feel trapped or how can we help others who feel trapped.
What are the signs?
Do you have apathy or frustration, anger or sadness building up in side. What is it that makes you feel trapped?
What is it in your friend, that they say, that makes you realise they need someone to listen, so that can talk through their own solutions?
Is it a slight comment about feeling lost and not themselves? Is it a joke about a sexless marriage, is it a comment about someone being patronising to them?
When we feel trapped we often keep going, dutifully doing the same routines somehow wishing that some miracle will happen that will allow us to break from our chains and shackles. Yet, it is only when we recognise the confinement we are in that we can pause and break free.
Sometimes it's a major thing like leaving a violent partner knowing that this is not going to be an easy journey and not knowing where to turn.
Sometimes it can be taking one step in one direction. Taking up a night class to do something for you. Learning a new skill, booking to speak to a coach or counsellor. Or it could be saying NO. Because more often than not, the first thing is to say NO to the things that hold you back and YES to even the smallest of opportunities.
Where can you say NO, or NO MORE? Where can you say YES?