I’ve had an on-going dialogue with the concept of freedom for close on two decades since a facilitator at a retreat I was attending asked me what I wanted out of the weekend. I answered that I wanted the total freedom to be me. Given that I was in a relationship at that time that I did not want to be in, my response made sense. She, however, heard something much deeper in my request and responded, “You have no idea what you are asking.”

The freedom to be who we are, to live a free-flowing expression of ourselves is a wonderful concept, in theory. However, we all know that to fully express our freedom, we typically have to let go of what has bound us up in the first place.  We like the idea of gaining our freedom when we believe that we gain it by being magically liberated from those people and responsibilities that appear to bind us. But even if we manage to become “liberated,” we find out very quickly that what bound us was never outside of us to begin with. It was not the “other” who restricted our freedom; it was our unfamiliarity with the truth that we are entirely responsible for our own experience of freedom. We are the only ones who can bind our expression and the only ones who can free it.

It’s a rare soul who comes to this awareness and actually liberates themselves. But that’s not because it cannot be done. Of course, we are free to express ourselves in any moment as we see fit. The question is how much of what we are expressing is true and authentic for us in that moment, and how much is what we believe we should express in order to keep others comfortable?

Freely expressing ourselves has nothing to do with any other. It has to do with how willing we are to be authentic. We were all taught that it’s not a good idea to “rock the boat,” but what if creating a little discord in a situation supports the growth of all involved? What if you being you allows others to be themselves?

When we get to the place where we realize we are wholly responsible for our sense of freedom, we learn that as long as we are reliant on another to promote or allow our sense of freedom, we are not free.  In fact, if we are reliant on anything to bring about our ability to freely express ourselves, we are not free.

Let me add here that I believe that the greatest expression of freedom is the freedom to love without condition. This means loving yourself enough to take the action that authentically represents your awareness, regardless of other people’s perceptions. Although others may reinforce our sense of freedom or even support it, they are completely irrelevant regarding our ability to express ourselves freely.

Now there’s some real magic¾the magic of personal responsibility. It’s ironic that most of us start our quest for freedom with a desire to be free of our responsibilities and yet it is only by taking total responsibility for our experience that we grow into a deep sense of inner freedom.  It makes sense, of course, but there have been more than a few times when I am sure we have all wished that “total freedom” did not also require total responsibility. However, we know this to be true because the moment we abdicate our authority, or even ask for permission to express our freedom, we immediately lose a sense of empowerment.

The freedom that is established, experienced, and expressed if one is willing to take full responsibility for the moment-by-moment experience of one’s life is personal empowerment. Let me clarify that by “responsible,” I do not mean burdened;. I mean the ability to respond versus reacting to our experiences.

Our lives are what they are. Many people feel victimized by their lives, and many use a sense of victimization either overtly or covertly to live a life that feels less than free.  Living a life that is less than free is not a reference to having less success or stability. Again, those are illusions that are based on external constructs and have nothing to do with our ability to express ourselves freely.

The freedom that I speak of is the freedom to be authentically yourself regardless of what others believe you should or could be. Deep within, we all know that we are capable of an expression of self that offers us moment by moment joy. We know when we are the ones meant to inspire and also the parts of us that are fearful to do so.

Living a life that feels less than authentically free is merely a byproduct of unwillingness to be responsible for fully living our awareness. Any excuse we make not to live our fullest, most free expression of self is merely us creating limitations. To live free is to live fully irrespective of our conditions, regardless of our past, and regardless of our perceived limitations.

When we consider that most individuals who inspire us by their freedom of expression are also those whose journeys have met with various degrees of challenge, we become quickly aware that to express ourselves freely has nothing to do with external conditions and everything to do with not allowing those conditions to be an excuse to be less than who we are!

How long will we wait to allow our fullest expression? If we are waiting for approval, it is guaranteed that we will not get there. The two void each other out! If we are waiting to learn more about ourselves, then we must make sure that learning more is not an excuse for freely expressing based on what we know now. When we wait to share our authentic expression of Self, we just delay our experience of freedom!

Love yourself enough to fully express YOU! You’ll love the results!