By Phil Rowson
“I threw it all away because I had to be what never was.”
– Foo Fighters, “Something From Nothing”
Much of the history of humanity has been the struggle for FREEDOM! Wars, both external and internal, have been fought and won in this cause. We humans, therefore, carry a legacy of both struggle and triumph as we pursue our own freedom and, in the process, seek to find our deepest joy and happiness by ridding ourselves of whatever may otherwise be holding us down. Along the way, we invariably find that our freedom was in our hands all along and is an essential ingredient to all achievement. History has shown us what we are capable of, and we must do all in our power to effectively climb the mountain of struggle to gradually arrive at that lofty pinnacle known as FREEDOM!
There is an old African proverb which states: “If there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm.” But what exactly constitutes an “enemy within”?
We humans have very real internal struggles which are all part of the symbolic climb towards freedom. Some of the most common of these struggles are fear, depression, hurt and low self-esteem/self-worth. Ironically, the pain associated with these often stems from what should be the most important and fulfilling things in our lives: our families, friendships, relationships, jobs or even accidents and certain things in and around us that we can’t control.
There are some reasons that pain, trauma and scarring exist, some of which include building and strengthening our character as well as expanding our horizons of patience, empathy and general understanding towards others and the world at large.
How, then, can we come out of such pain and turmoil with the necessary growth and, at the same time, not allow the trauma of it to become chains that imprison us from the freedom required to actually be our very best selves?
(That’s a loaded question if I’ve ever seen one!) Back to this question in a moment.
While there are so many of these forces that can internally chain us down, let us not get overwhelmed, for we are never alone. There is always someone else who can relate and always someone who cares. Moreover, there is always hope and answers are available! The question is whether we choose to embrace and seek them.
Embracing hope and ascending toward true freedom flow from one word: choice. One must first choose honesty in fully acknowledging where one currently stands in terms of happiness and freedom. No person ever ascended Mount Everest by casually going for a walk and accidentally arriving at the peak. Rather, a choice to make the determined and realistic effort was always the prerequisite. A choice to believe in oneself and in the process and pursue it was also made. Admittedly, this is all much easier said than done. Just know this: it is possible!
If one does not truly feel happy, or seeks to expand their current happiness, one must choose to discover and define that vision of happiness and then work backwards to eradicate the chains preventing it where one currently stands. Choice is perhaps the most important freedom we can exercise at any moment.
We return now to our question above. In the case of our internal chains, our true freedom exists on the bright side of these issues. No, that is not just flowery, cliché talk. There is a reason some conquer many of their obstacles and many do not. We can look at our fears, for example, in anticipation of hardship and loss; or we can look at what we might gain instead by facing and overcoming them head on. We can choose to make unexpected “problems” into stumbling blocks or stepping stones. We are the creators of our fate. We are in charge!
One of the most common external chains in our lives is that of the short-sighted condemnation or mockery of others. These negative misjudgments could rear their ugly heads as a result of co-workers, family and so-called “friends” or other random, possibly “well-meaning” people. It’s worth asking oneself this question: Are these negative naysayers more of a blessing or a burden in my life?
If the negative things they have to say affect us or even immobilize us, then one of two things has to happen: 1. Let go of any preoccupation or fear associated with this person’s mindless disregard for our happiness, or 2. Disassociate oneself from these destroyers of ambition. Isn’t our joy and happiness much more important? And, even if it is someone from whom it might be unrealistic for one to disassociate oneself, such as a family member, it is STILL far better to at least ignore and bypass the negative energy that would otherwise pollute our path toward greatness if we allow it.
Regardless of what our exact external chains may be, the bottom line is this: Our WHY (the reasons we’re doing whatever we’re doing) has to be fed and nourished with goals and visualization of the end result we seek. We must use all senses to see it, feel it, hear it, taste it and smell it vibrantly and deeply! Regular habits of setting and reviewing these goals along with our reasons for attaining them can strengthen our resolve beyond the ability of any naysayer to have any negative influence in our pursuit of our own brand of happiness and satisfaction.
All of this will attract the forces into our lives that will make our deepest desires become reality and truth, all while strengthening our resolve to withstand any and all puny forces that would otherwise threaten us. It is like becoming immune to the negative while constantly building the positive. In other words, one becomes truly FREE!
The Car of our Lives
Let’s look at it all through the analogy of how cars function. Cars require fuel to travel from point A to point B. That fuel is burned in the engine creating movement for the wheels. I know, I know – there’s more to it, but this is just a simple, lowest-common-denominator illustration! 😉
This process of putting the “mobile” in “automobile” creates waste products such as exhaust. Can you imagine if that exhaust was pumped into the car through the air conditioning vents? It would instantaneously create a poisonous, deadly internal environment.
Be Awake and Aware
We have to be aware – aware of good lessons and expanded horizons that can and should always come from difficulties and painful experiences. We must also recognize detrimental, lethal poisons that, if not released as exhaust, would otherwise injure or kill us! Either way, the vehicle of our lives creates friction and energy that can EMPOWER and ENLIGHTEN us far beyond the temporary pain of the process.
All energy is created and utilized through several means, and waste products are almost always produced in the process. Too many of us are walking around poisoned by the waste products of some pain in our lives – almost as if we ourselves were “Walking Dead” zombies of some sort.
I’m here to tell you this: YOU and I are in control. Choices must be made and these waste products – grudges, anger, sadness, emotional wounds and general lingering hurt of any sort – can be discarded or at least figuratively locked away. We can cleanse ourselves and we must find our own peaceful place from which to let go of and ultimately flush out the poisonous exhaust that can cripple us on our life’s journey. Inasmuch as we do so, our true freedom manifests itself in its marvelous wonder!
“You can’t think your way into a new way of living. You have to LIVE and ACT your way into a new way of thinking.” – Anonymous