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Freedom, a problematic opportunity

The Whole Person Blog: Week One, Day Five - Freedom, a problematic opportunity

Writings inspired by Seth Godin: What to Do When It's Your Turn (and It's Always Your Turn) Thursday, January 2nd, 2020


I've come to the conclusion that regardless of what goal I'm hired to help someone reach, ultimately, what they really want is to be free. Freedom may come in the form of weight loss, self-acceptance, physical comfort, or feeling capable, significant, or appreciated.

Though freedom is not free; it comes at a cost, the cost of liability, accountability, and responsibility. If I do this thing, it might work, and it might not. If this doesn't work out, what will people think? If it does work, what else will this capacity require of me? Seth has a word to say about it:


"A bird in search of a cage

So much freedom, so much choice, so many opportunities to matter.


And yet our cultural instinct is to find a place to hold us, a spot where we are safe from the obligation and the opportunity to choose. Because, if we choose, then we are responsible, aren't we?


The cage keeps us in, certainly, but it also keeps everything else out. It protects us from a world that we've decided offers pitfalls, not opportunities.


Kafka wrote about the cage in search of a bird, a trap that was incomplete until it found something to trap. But the reverse is more true, and sadder still. We're often birds that are unhappy until we find a cage that takes away our freedom."


It's easier to show up and be told what to do instead of being taught how to think for yourself, being empowered to manage decisions that you're fully responsible for, for better or worst. Presidential-candidate, Marianne Williamson says it's our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. If we accept the power of freedom, that means we have to accept we're worthy of that power, and that usually conflicts with what we believe about ourselves. I have a dear client who struggles to exercise her freedom because she grew up in an environment where she had none. For all intents and purposes, her mother lived her life for her, vying for control to balance her own lack of emotional safety.


I'm hoping you're starting to see where this is all going. This is yet another challenge that's outgrown by rediscovering who you are apart from the painful experiences of your past. Ironically, it's us, who in fact, assign value to our experiences. When we allow them to move us to a position of inferiority, we're trapped, searching for freedom, and at the same time, petrified of it. No one ever hired me to solve their Identity crisis, but I've never met anyone who didn't struggle with one.


"Freedom is our problem, and freedom is our opportunity." Seth Godin

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