“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”
I dislike washing the dishes. But you know what I dislike more? Being told that I have to wash the dishes.
Do you ever notice how we tend to be more resistant when we are told to do something as if we don’t have any choice? It seems that the way we see things and feel about them are greatly impacted by the level of freedom we have towards them, and when we feel like we are stripped off of it, we experience a great deal of discomfort.
We enjoy being free individuals and making free choices. But at the same time, we allow ourselves to get trapped in circumstances where we don’t get to express our freedom.
When was the last time we shrugged something off as “out of my control”? When was the last time we settled for “There’s nothing I can do about it anyway”, before we exercised our freedom to try.
It isn’t that it’s complicated; shrugging off a situation is easy. Being at the mercy of everything that happens to us is a piece of cake. At best, it’s choosing to be enslaved by our situations to escape responsibility. The problem with that is: we’re enslaved by our situations, and we lose our freedom because we are “no longer responsible” for our situations.
At worst, it’s the reason why our lives aren’t what we want them to be.
Sometimes, though, it’s all a matter of recognizing incorrect patterns of behavior. Behaviors regarding our predispositions, our feelings, and our time often imprison us and keep us from embracing the freedom to become who we can be.
One of the greatest excuses in this post-modern, highly individualized and subjective age is that if you’re born a certain way, there is nothing you can do about it. However, saying this feels less like a celebration of our individuality, and more of an insult to our capabilities as human beings.
We must remember that predisposition to crime does not make a criminal. What might make a criminal, though, is saying “I don’t have a choice; I was born this way anyway.” No one is born perfect. But those who thrive, those who rise above their circumstances, are the ones who tell themselves “I may be born like this, but I will not let this dictate who I am.”
Don’t let your predispositions limit your freedom to become what you can be.
Feelings—perhaps one of the biggest fallacies in our day and age.
How many times have we simply not “felt” it? How many times have we felt that it was not the time do the things we wanted to do? Or take control of our our lives?
Of course, feelings aren’t bad. On the contrary, feelings are great. But they shouldn’t control us, as we are often told. The problem is when we treat emotions as the final say in our decisions; being controlled by the whim of our wants and momentary desires is, again, easy. Easier, at least, than pursuing the goal of becoming the kind of people that we aspire to become.
Have you ever “felt” completely helpless? The great news is this: your feelings don’t dictate you.
You dictate you.
And if you decide that sadness or anger or laziness determines what you can or cannot do today, you are giving up your freedom. The trick is to recognize and separate our feelings from our will, to be honest when we feel something that we don’t want to feel, and then to simply decide to do.
It’s okay to feel like not making our bed, because regardless of our feelings, we can make it anyway. The trick is to be disciplined.
It’s alright to feel like we cannot be happy. We can still believe against that lie and be happy anyway. The trick is to be grateful.
It’s fine to feel fear, anger, or hurt. Those feelings don’t matter anyway when we choose to be brave, be kind, and forgive others regardless. The trick is to want, to choose, because we can.
It’s not easy, certainly. Years of succumbing to wrong feelings will make it our default. But we must realize that we have the freedom to stop feeding any feeling that holds us back.
Don’t let your feelings dictate who you choose to be.
The excuse that we “don’t have the time” isn’t as valid as we think. For one, time is one of the few things we all have the same amount of, every day. You have the exact same 24 hours as Bill Gates, and the exact same 24 hours as your local taxi driver. So how come we feel like we don’t “have” the time, but others do?
How does time limit our freedom? It doesn’t.
What does limit our freedom is trying to do so many things when we’re only supposed to focus on a select few things during certain seasons of our lives.
The trick is to 1) recognize when we are slaving our time away and 2) to fix our priorities so that we make time for the things that truly matter for each particular part of life. If you are in the season of explanding your career, then work hard and do it well. If you are in the season of being there for your family, then invest time in them and build those relationships. If you think your season is for studying, then make sure your time is focused on that. Whatever it is that you should be doing at this point in your life, you will know you’re doing right if 1) you aren’t killing yourself with your time, and 2) if there are good, valuable things coming from the things you spend your time on.
Whatever your dilemma is, whatever is limiting your freedom, don’t forget that the principal person controlling your life is you. Don’t let anything make you feel otherwise.
“…I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.”
— Last lines of Invictus, William Ernest Henley