Freedom in the present moment comes from letting go of the need to know what will happen in the future.
From trusting that you will make the right decisions if you listen to your heart, your gut instincts and feelings, and ignoring the constant chatter of the “monkey mind”.
Freedom comes from letting yourself ‘be’. Accepting who you are. Not forcing yourself to be something you’re not.
Caring for others is an essential part of life, but can’t we do that without sacrificing our own happiness in the process? We shouldn’t be required to live up to other people’s expectations if they are no longer in alignment with who we are and what we want out of life.
The New You
Freedom comes from accepting that we are in a constant state of change. As our cells replenish, our bodies are recreated. As our life experiences affect us, so we become new beings, with new desires, new needs, new curiosities.
Much has been made by the popular media of the ability of musicians to ‘reinvent’ themselves: Dylan, Bowie, Madonna. This is a natural process for all of us. It seems absurd that anyone would think it’s normal to stay forever the same, like a relic frozen in time.
It saddens me to see successful musicians, actors or entertainers or other public figures who’ve reached a ripe old age still trying to conform to the image that made them famous when they were teenagers. I can’t imagine it’s much fun.
It may well work out fine for them financially, but think how much more interesting they might have become if they didn’t slavishly live up to the expectations and demands of their more conservative fans, and explored more interesting territories.
Are You Stuck in The Waiting Room?
Christina Rasmussen has written a book about dealing with grief called Second Firsts. She says that after suffering the loss of a loved one, many people are stuck between their old lives and their new ones, and feel unable to move forward. She compares this to being stuck in a Waiting Room:
“We begin living in a gap between lives—the life we’ve left behind and the life we have yet to enter. I like to call this space the Waiting Room. When we’re in the Waiting Room, we’re still attached to the past—which is already gone forever—even as we’re trying to figure out what the future looks like.
In this place, we struggle with our new reality, thinking that it is our new life. We are unable to see ourselves clearly and make decisions as we used to. The brain’s ability to plan and reason is temporarily gone.”
This could also be the case (albeit in a less traumatic way) if your life has changed in other ways and you need to move on to a different way of being. It might be that you are currently going through some kind of transition in life, but you are reluctant to say goodbye to the old way of life. Basically, you don’t want to leave your comfort zone:
“While you wait in the Waiting Room, you get increasingly comfortable. This is your safe place. Some Waiting Rooms are actually quite cozy after we settle into them. Metaphorically speaking, if you can imagine it, they look like living rooms with nice, big couches and flat-screen TVs.
You go to your Waiting Room initially to be safe while you adjust to your loss. But soon enough, your brain begins to associate stepping outside of this space as dangerous. We want to avoid pain, so the brain tries to anticipate bad situations before they happen. We stay in the Waiting Room for fear of risking future loss. Unfortunately, the longer you stay, the harder it is to start over.”
According to Rasmussen, leaving the waiting room involves taking small actions every day towards the new life you want, and:
“….gradually learning to let go of your fear as you practice doing things that are different from your too-comfortable, self-protective routines.”
Even a tiny action that takes you outside your comfort zone can help. To find out more, you can watch a fascinating video interview with Rasmussen over at the Good Life Project.
Tips for Going Through a Transition
Going through any kind of transitional period can be really difficult, even if you’re not dealing with grief. Here are a few tips for coping with it:
- Most importantly, be patient and compassionate with yourself.
- Take small steps each day if possible, and try to maintain some kind of forward momentum.
- Expect occasional setbacks, and give yourself permission to temporarily retreat back to your comfort zone if it feels necessary.
- Be willing to let go of what no longer works for you. Notice what makes you feel good now – it may be different than what used to make you feel good in the past.
- Recognise that the fear you are feeling is more to do with imagined future scenarios than present realities. Don’t allow it to hold you back from what you really want out of life.
Are you a different person now, to the one you were two years, or five years, or ten years ago? Did you find the transition easy or difficult?
Or are you transitioning towards something new in 2014? Let me know in the comments.
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