When I ask people what they want, many say they want freedom. When we poke into it: they want a sense of freedom, but think the way to get to freedom is through liberty... Let me explain.
Just like with all words we use, here is huge confusion, a collapse of two distinctions: freedom and liberty. They are not connected. They don't even overlap!
Let's work on distinguishing these two, and show you a path to a sense of freedom... ultimately what you want, in this article, by bringing some clarity.
Clarity of speaking will lead to claring of thinking, clarity of thinking will lead to clarity of action, to clarity in results... Results will include how you feel about yourself, about your life, about all of it.
Let's first distinguish liberty. Liberty is the wild horse's or the puppy dog's desire to run about the field, buck, jump, whatever horses and puppy dogs do.
The wild child: running, yelling, breaking windows. Eating candy to their heart's desire. The liberty to have rotting teeth, be overweight, get caught, jailed, killed... Liberty. Rejecting, ignoring, resenting any barrier, any limitation, any restriction.
Getting up when you want to, eating whatever you want, doing whatever you want, yelling at people, sleeping with whoever, honking your car horn, gossip, get drunk, etc.
Not a sure way for survival, and ultimately not a befitting way to live for a human...
Like rivers, humans perform with most power when restrained. When the path is clear, strait and narrow, and not flowing all over the place.
Like a locomotive with all its valves open, humans insisting on liberty just stand on the rails, not going anywhere. Resenting restrictions, resenting limitations is a phase in the growing up of a child: 2-3 years old. Maybe 2-5, max. It is not a good thing to be stuck at an age in behavior and psychology, while your body grows to be an adult's body.
Liberty is all outside: your relationship to others, your relationship with things. Visible.
Freedom is a 100% inside job. It's between you and you. It is the invisible part of the iceberg, the part that is dominating your life.
Freedom is both an attitude and an experience.
"Freedom is recognizing your limitations" goes the saying. Limitations: restrictions, barriers, the lid, limitations and constraints in space, time, energy, resources.
Recognizing your limitations means two things:
- Accepting the limitations
- Learning to navigate effectively the limitations to lead to a winning life
Accepting the limitation.
Notice that in any society some thrive, some survive, and others barely make it... are in the streets or in jails or in mental institutions.
When you accept anything, you welcome it, you allow it, you grant it beingness, you admit that it has the right to be exactly where it is, how it is, and when it is.
Notice your knee-jerk reaction to that. Your knee-jerk reaction and how long it lasts will decide how you do in life, and which of the three groups you'll belong to: thrivers, survivors, or fallen by the wayside.
The knee jerk reaction is to change, fix, fight, rebel against, complain, etc. All ineffective actions, taking your attention and energy away from what you want to accomplish.
Here are the three paths
- The thriver: You look at the limitations, you look at the restrictions, and you see how you can make your way through them without bloodying yourself up, hurting others, smoothly, effectively and efficiently. You may even enjoy the challenge. It's a game you are lucky to play. Your experience in life is freedom, play, joy, and winning.Yesterday a participant in the Playground shared her interaction with a nosy neighbor... In a few minute long conversation we developed a strategy to eliminate the bloody noses forever when anyone nosy questions you, tries to express opinions and such. Gracefully, elegantly, smoothly... instead of feeling invaded, crowded in, interrogated, unsafe, and such... which is "normal" when you act from a knee jerk reaction.
Another participant shared that he bought expensive organic supplement for her sister with cancer. The sister ungraciously refused the gift.
We looked at the scenario and found a way to deal with that "limitation" that is uplifting, and leaves all participants happy.
We all have them.
Maybe it's the constraint of time, money, energy, resources, people, technology, or whatever.
But constraints need not limit us.
Constraints can, indeed, lead to better effectiveness and efficiency, and a life lived usefully, freely, gloriously.
This YouTube video provides a great "visual model" of how constraints can actually make for smoother and faster progress in the physical world.
And that can be a very useful metaphor to use in your life, in coaching or when you have unfulfilled desires.
- The survivor: you develop strategies to get by, to take yourself out of life, you start living a smaller and smaller life to avoid brushing up, banging up against the limitations. Your experience in life is no meaning, no purpose, no accomplishment, at best you experience your life as blah.
- Fallen by the wayside: you keep fighting the limitations... but it is you who loses. Your experience in life is resentment, anger, and victim.
Learning to navigate the limitations so you can have an experience of freedom
Remember learning to drive? It is one thing to know how to make a right turn, it's quite another to know when to press the break and when to let go of it for the turn to be smooth.
I have sat next to adult drivers that still don't do it right... And how you do anything is how you do everything: they never consider learning how to drive smoothly, how to master anything.
If you had a chance to get into their heads: they are definitely the second group: don't love challenges. Their life is blah.
What you may see in this article is that liberty is for children. Because liberty is given by others. You have nothing to say about it: you either have it or not.
You don't need to become anything, you don't need to get better, grow, produce, think... no. You either have liberty or not.
The more liberty you have the lesser human you become, by the way.
Freedom is an inside job: it is only up to you!
Freedom, on the other hand, depends on you and only you.
But... this is a big but... our hard-wired knee-jerk psychological makeup doesn't allow us to grow easily in this arena. We easily get stuck in a world of standards, rules, shoulds and shouldn't of our own making, that make life like a sea shore area full of rocks: all threaten to capsize our boat.
It's an art to navigate that shore area. Some people are naturally good at it, and they are the natural winners in relationships, politics, business, sciences.
For true freedom, you need to learn the skill of navigation in the rocky waters
Others need to learn to navigate.
I am better at teaching it than "doing" it, although if you knew my circumstances you would be amazed that I am as well as I am... regardless, or in spite of my circumstances... A testimony to the art of navigating the treacherous waters of the rocky waters.
It's best to learn through your own, real life challenges, and then go and practice this new way of navigating. Come and share your challenges in class... If you have ambition but are blocked, I may accept your application.
But if you can't come to calls, don't want to come to calls, hate to come to calls, then I will consider selling you the recordings of some of those calls...
You can get yesterday's call for a measly $12. Life altering, if you ask me. Obviously, mind-altering at worst, life altering at best... because if you don't bring it to life, if you don't practice it, it will only make your mind happy, not you.
Or you can wait until I publish them in a big program... in about a year's time?
P.S.: I just did a search and found out that most people want freedom from fear, poverty, etc. That is to say: they want liberty... both fear and poverty is a limitation that you can navigate and get ahead: become fearless, or become rich, or both.
It's all about clarity!
P.P.S.: in common usage, and in dictionaries, the two words, the two distinctions are collapsed to disastrous results. Just look at your life!
All of those definitions look into freedom as if it were given by another, by society, by the system, and that is the view of the stone age human... and the state, it seems, they want to keep you.
The difference between human and the next level of evolution begins with separating and distinguishing between freedom an liberty... because they are not the same.
Just like in a Nazi concentration camp, the liberty lovers perished, because they had nothing else to lean on, no other powers that what was given to them, in this world of seeming abundance, the same people, the liberty lovers, suffer economic, psychological and health disadvantages, because they believe they only have powers that someone is willing to give them.
Navigation inside unfavorable circumstances is the hallmark or the next level of evolution. But before it becomes a change in the genes, it needs to become a practice, a habit... and, of course, it can. It just takes work, like practicing a musical instrument... most will be wanting to be born with the ability... are you one of them? You may want to re-read this article, if you want a different life. Different from what wanting and wishing can give you.
- None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.
Bk. II, Ch. 5; source: Die Wahlverwandtschaften, Hamburger Ausgabe, Bd. 6 (Romane und Novellen I), dtv Verlag, München, 1982, p. 397 (II.5)
- A teacher who can arouse a feeling for one single good action, for one single good poem, accomplishes more than he who fills our memory with rows on rows of natural objects, classified with name and form.
- Freedom and life are earned by those alone
Who conquer them each day anew