I have this life formula for myself: Honesty + Courage = Freedom.
First, I strive to get really honest with myself about what I want and don't want in life. I tap into whether my life decisions align with my values. I notice when something feels off in my relationships and where old, unhelpful patterns might need attention.
Second, I summon up the courage to take the oftentimes scary step of putting that honest revelation into action to create change.
And I have always found that, no matter what the outcome, taking that brave step to do what's honest for me makes me feel more free.
With that in mind, I think it’s really worthwhile to explore fear. Because fear is often what keeps us trapped inside our box, held down, and shackled from doing the things that would otherwise bring fulfillment to our lives.
(Side note: Exploring fear is exactly what we did in "Finding Courage in the Face of Fear [S1, EP3 | The Soul's Work Podcast]"! Listen here.)
Maybe at first it’s more so the external world – our society and the people outside of us – who try to keep us inside this little box.
Perhaps, they tell us: "You should be more of this. You shouldn’t do that. Don’t pursue that dream because it won’t get you anywhere." Blah, blah, blah ...
And I liken it to them throwing us into a jail cell. (Not to be overly dramatic, but that’s gonna be our metaphor for today, okay?)
So they’ve thrown us into this metaphorical jail cell, and they’ve locked the door behind us with one of those giant, old-school jail keys. That’s the picture in my mind.
But – and this is the crazy thing that blows my mind – as time goes by, we start to internalize the beliefs that the external world has bombarded us with.
We no longer need anyone else feeding us those distorted ideas anymore – although, of course, that external pressure lives on!
Because after so much internalization, we've gotten to the point where we’ve taken ownership of those fearful beliefs.
They’ve become so ingrained within us, that we hold onto those self-limiting beliefs as our own thoughts.
And that, to me, is the worst kind of loss of freedom. It’s like being in a mental prison inside your own head.
In that state, even if our jail keeper slipped us the key through the bars and walked away from guard duty, we might stay sitting in that cell.
Because we’ve been in there for so long, and we’ve come to believe that that’s where we should be. That’s all we know.
And it doesn’t matter that we’re now holding the key right in the palm of our hand. Because we’ve become afraid of what will happen should we unlock that cell door and walk out into what has now become an unknown and uncertain world beyond our little box.
So I think that honesty is often about coming to the realization that we do want more – and deserve more – than just staying in that little box.
And courage is often the next step, where we find the strength – despite our fears of that unknown world "out there" – to unlock the cell door and walk out of that box, free.
So, Honesty + Courage = Freedom.
And the good news? We don't have to wait for someone to place the key in our hand. Because we already hold it inside of us.
P.S. Listen to "Getting Honest with Ourselves (S1, EP2 | The Soul's Work Podcast)" here!
This post has been slightly edited from its original version, published on February 6, 2018 on JaniceHoCreative.com.