Here in the USA, tomorrow is Independence Day, a national holiday where we celebrate our country's independence as a nation. It's a time of year where there's a great deal of celebration of the ideas of freedom and independence.
For all of our valuing of freedom, most of us spend a lot of time imprisoning ourselves—often without even realizing that we are the ones doing it.
We build cages for ourselves out of so many things. The bars of our cage may include:
- the expectations of other people
- the avoidance of our fears (like the fear of being vulnerable)
- the need to impress people so we feel "good enough"
- the raw edges of our unhealed wounds that serve as triggers for irrational reactions
- the desire to fit in
- our unconscious patterns of relating and reacting that dictate our responses to life
- our beliefs about what we think we "deserve"
- the cultural expectations we're surrounded by
- the mental, emotional, and physical habits we've adopted
- the need to defend our pride or our ego
- the desire to avoid conflict
- our ideas about how "people like us" do things
- the need to be liked
- our beliefs about what we are (or aren't) capable of
One of the biggest breakthroughs I have ever experienced came many years ago as I realized that so much of the trapped feeling I was experiencing in my life came from things I was imposing on myself. The bars of the cage I was desperately trying to escape were bars that I had put in place or had accepted from others.
It's been decades now since that eye-opening moment, and I'm still working on dismantling that cage little bits at a time.
I'm still learning to take my emotions as serious, valuable input without letting them steer my reactions.
I'm still learning not to let my fears drive my actions and decisions.
I'm still learning not to limit myself to fit in or to fit others' expectations.
I'm still learning to hold my identity and ego loosely.
I'm still not where I want to be, but with every bar of the cage that I've loosened and let go of, I've chosen greater and greater degrees of freedom.
These days when I find myself feeling trapped, I no longer look outward for others to blame. I look instead for where I'm limiting myself by some (often unconscious) choice about what's possible for me.
Invariably, I find it there—another self-created limitation for me to work on releasing, another wound to work on healing, another unconscious pattern to dissolve.
This choosing of freedom is seldom easy and is often scary, but it's ultimately worth the discomfort.
As we celebrate Independence Day this year, what bars of your cage do you need to release to choose more freedom in your life?
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