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- Non-denominational Beliefs & Practices
Self-Slavery to Personal Freedom: Break Free
We tend to be artisans when it comes to creating our own self-slavery, shackled to choices that no longer work. We move through life with leaden feet, going from task to task, feeling more dead than alive. At least once in our lives, we find ourselves wanting to break old habits; to break those chains. We crave personal freedom like a forbidden fruit. The urge to attack our day with the same zeal and relish we would a hot steaming plate of a favorite food is not meant for us. We convince ourselves it’s meant for others. You know the ones. They’re on the front page of the paper and magazines, glamorous and wealthy. Surely they are the elite who enjoy the bliss in life. Wrong. No one is exempt from the feeling of life slavery.
Why Do We Enslave Ourselves?
If it feels so lousy, why do we do we dig ourselves into this emotional and mental rut? I’ll bet you can name at least ten reasons without even pausing. The following is usually #1 on that list:
It may be the most common answer, but ironically, tucked away between those two words, also lies the key to your freedom. Let’s take a moment and look at that simple two-word statement. What does it imply? Life happens to whom? Life happens to you. Perfectly obvious, isn’t it? It happens to all of us. But do you see something interesting? It implies we are just the victims of the passing of days, weeks, months, years. We’ve gone passive within the stream of boundless life force. We’ve gone to sleep, become dead weight, utterly oblivious to opportunity and change, and it’s no one’s fault but our own. Life becomes something to endure instead of something to live.
What causes us to lose touch with the vibrancy of our own personal freedom? We know it’s out there. We can feel it. Sometimes we catch glimpses of it like the proverbial ring on a carousel ride, but the carousel is either going the wrong direction or we’re just too lifeless to reach for it.
How Do You Break the Chains?
I’m sure you’ve probably done what I used to do when the daily grind and numbing pace of the rat race got to be too much. I bought a new pair of shoes, had a fattening dinner out, tried a new hairstyle, complained to a friend or two, even going so far as to change jobs or homes. Did it lift me up and carry me away on a cloud of blissful unending happiness? No, it didn’t. These things would make me feel better for a short time, but then the fog of my mundane reality would settle back over me and I’d become a zombie again, and again, and again. Sound familiar?
I found the reason for my endless failure and the path to my self-slavery was so simple. I turned outwardly to try to fool myself into happiness instead of turning inward to give the root of the real problem a little attention. And I can tell you there is no other way to make any permanent change in your life. You’re going to have to dive into those mysterious unknown waters of yourself. Why? Because it’s your own mind that’s become your own worst enemy. That grey matter between your ears is literally a creator and a destroyer of your world.
But the good news is you’re already on your way to the personal freedom you crave. You already know what you’ve been doing isn’t working for you or you wouldn’t have clicked on this article. The door is open. Smell the sweet breezes wafting through? Hopefully it tickles your curiosity enough to want to at least take a tentative step through it. For some this is a scary place they don’t like to journey. There are shadows of things lurking we don’t like to face. But don’t forget those sweet breezes. The scariness is just a curtain you can sweep aside. It’s the first layer of defense the ego has put in place to protect an identity it’s worked so many years to create which includes your own self-slavery. Now is the time to take the brush into your hand, with eyes wide open and wide awake, and dab some color into your world.
You have nothing to lose and everything to gain towards personal freedom. Let’s do it together.
Step 1: Embrace the fact you’ve enslaved yourself.
You already know it on the surface, but let’s make it real. Take some time and ponder how you are feeling in your life. Go ahead and make all those admissions about what a slave you really feel like. Don’t hold anything back. However, DO SO WITHOUT SELF JUDGEMENTS. These two points are critical. Don’t do one without the other. This isn’t a blame game. It’s just examining the inside of the jail cell you perceive yourself living in. I snuck that in there on you. Did you catch it?
You’re not really in jail. You’re not a slave to the grind. You’re not the walking dead. You only perceive you are. You could easily love the job you currently loathe. We’ll get to the meat of that in a moment. But for now take some solace in the fact that your miseries are merely perceptions and not saber toothed tigers waiting to devour you once you honestly admit to yourself you’re not happy and things are not what you hopped.
Positive Living Books:
Step 2: Recognize your bad mental habits.
Now we’re going to take a brief look at how you built that prison and why you feel so enslaved. The first time you went into that zombie-like sleep state it was with a feeling of disappointment or personal discomfort. Your brain filed that away in a special place. This place is where all future events will be weighed and measured based on your past experiences. The unfortunate thing about this place for most of us is that it primarily uses only the bad things that have happened. The good things are there too, but then tend to pushed back behind the bad stuff.
A few examples:
“I just started a new job. It’s the opportunity I’ve worked long and hard for but instead of feeling overjoyed I feel anxious. I just hope the other shoe doesn’t drop and it turns out to be a big mistake.”
“I just met the person of my dreams. Everything about them makes me happy and hopeful, but I worry. What if this person changes? What if this relationship fails too?”
“I just bought a new car. Sure hope it doesn’t turn out to be a lemon like the last one.”
I think you can see the trend. And when you consider it’s the mind that is the creator of our reality, you can understand how dismal a reality this creates. Your own mind is the veritable blacksmith who made your shackles. Your self-slavery begins and ends between your ears. So does your personal freedom.
Excellent Video on Basic Meditation
Music for Meditation:
Step 3. Breaking free.
There’s no other way but to become conscious of the negative self-talk and expectations cranking away as your mind busies itself weighing and measuring every moment. You can feel it in your body when it’s happening. There’s a slight knotting in the stomach, a tension in the muscles, even a tendency to slightly constrict your breathing. You just know you don’t feel free and easy.
How do you become aware? I only know one way and that’s meditation. Now before you click that little red “x” at the top right of this window, let me explain. I’m not talking about standing on your head or twisting your body into impossible positions, although that works for some. I’m referring to the practice of stepping out of the chattering mind, full of its self-talk, and feeling your own consciousness. This is what many refer to as quieting the mind. The ability to do this helps with clarity and awareness and it will allow you to recognize those moments when your mind is derailing your hopes and dreams before they even get off the ground.
The really neat thing about meditation is that there are so many ways to do it and no one else is aware you’re meditating. Have you ever spaced off listening to music? You’re actually meditating. People do it while walking, vacuuming, watching the wind in the trees, any number of things that allows your mind to step outside of itself. You can sit quietly and observe your breath to allow your mind to relax. There are more formal methods too, including yoga and pranayama. (check spelling) Experiment a little bit and see what works best for you, and do it daily. Do it as often as you remember to do it and you’ll begin to see the negative patterns that have held you in slavery and kept you unhappy.
Create new positive mental habits. Now that you know to identify the things you’ve been doing to victimize yourself, it’s time to take the wheel and drive the bus where you want to go instead of down that same old boring road. Sound a little daunting? It can if you’re not accustomed to actually feeling and embracing personal freedom. Embrace it like an old friend. It’s your true nature and your birthright. You deserve to feel content and excited about your life every day you live it.
You do this by creating new healthy, vibrant and positive mental habits. As often as you can every day, imagine yourself as you want to be. Imagine the life you’ve always wanted and make it as real as possible. Imagine yourself happy. The more you do this, and the more energy you put into it, you’ll find it’s becoming your life and not imaginary anymore. Personal freedom is yours and your self-slavery is over.
You Deserve It!
Now I realize this all sounds over simplified and a little too obvious, and really it is. There is nothing more to it than this. It just can’t be realized if you’re walking through life like a zombie down a hopeless road in a world without color. When you feel yourself slipping back into the deadzone, remind yourself who is driving the bus and drive it right out of the rain. Open your eyes wide, feel what it's like to be alive and deserving of happiness in life.
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