Sunday, July 4, 2010

Declare Your Independence!

An unjustly convicted man is released after many years of imprisonment. Despite his best efforts, he experiences considerable difficulty making the adjustment to his newfound freedom. His frustration eventually escalates, and he decides to rob a local bank to return to prison.

At the peak of his dismay, just as he is about to carry out the heist, his friend, a US Marshal, interrupts him. She strongly urges him to reconsider the consequences of his intended course of action. Finally, she convinces him to walk away from the potential crime scene when she delivers her wake-up call:

"You're strong enough to survive and scared to live."

Although these scenes derive from a popular television drama, they suggest some important implications for everyday living.

Imagine these experiences:
You're constantly rushing, taking care of relentless responsibilities, and giving to others non-stop. You're making productive use of every minute, snacking along the way, worrying about your health, absentmindedly multitasking, and pushing yourself despite the pains.

In the midst of all these activities, you might feel a sense of pride about your driven accomplishments and your strength to get through the day.

This common lifestyle pattern represents what I call "survival mode."

With repetition, this way of moving through life becomes chronic or habitual. Over time, your reinforced familiarity with the habit can lull you into an unhealthy "comfort zone" in which you forget that the quality of life is a choice.

That's "survival prison."

In this prison of your own making, you will tend to unconsciously think, feel, and act according to your usual routine. As your prison becomes what you know, you may firmly believe that creative change is impossible.

What can you do to escape from prison?

The first step to freedom involves consciously identifying the characteristics of your prison. Remember, you are responsible (not to blame) for the establishment of your personal prison.

In that light, consider these questions:
  • In what ways do you feel imprisoned or stuck in your life?
  • Which routines have become your unhealthy comforts?
  • Which of your beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and actions "bind" or lock you into prison-like habits?
After you have clarified the nature of your "prison," give yourself some quiet space and reflect on these questions:
  • What do you need to feel safe as you let go of the prison routine?
  • What new actions do you want to enhance your quality of living?
  • What beliefs, thoughts, and feelings will support your freedom?
Let yourself dream big! Have fun, listen to yourself, and be patient. The prison routine took a while to develop, and you don't need to push yourself to change over night. That's not likely or desirable.

To experience authentic, sustainable freedom, you will need to engage the supports you've listed, as well as deliberately practice the skills of self-awareness and self-acceptance in your actions.

In this way, you will break the grip of the fear of living, declare your independence, and express the embodiment of being free.

Awaken your freedom!

Love and Peace,

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