Mar 2, 2010

Finding inner freedom

Albino PeacockImage by The Real Darren Stone via Flickr
Freedom is the desire of every human heart in this world. We all wish to live life freely. However, as life progresses we realize that we are either a slave of our situations or a slave of people’s expectations. We find ourselves buckling under the pressure of situations and pressure of expectations that others have from us. When this is the reality of life how can we possibly enjoy freedom while at the same time maintaining our relationships and handling the situations?

Well friends, there is an easy way to find your inner freedom. However, before we proceed to understand this way to find the inner freedom let us consider the example of a married couple who have a 6-month-old baby. The husband works in the office and wife is a stay-at-home mom. Now let us consider a situation where husband comes back from office after a very challenging day and he is very tired. Now since the wife takes care of the baby single-handedly all day long she too is tired by the time husband returns from work. So both of them are tired and both are resting after having their dinner when the baby suddenly starts crying. Now in this situation, husband who is already exhausted and is willing to sleep expects his wife to attend to the baby. At the same time the wife who is also tired and had been expecting that she will get a break from babysitting after her husband comes back, expects her husband to attend to the baby.

So here is a situation where both have expectations from another. Both of them are waiting for the other one to take the necessary action. Now let us assume that finally understanding that the husband is not going to move the wife gets up and attends to the baby. Though she loves the baby very much as a mother but as a wife she also expects her husband to care for her. So though on the one hand she attends to the baby but she also starts “feeling bad” and develops a grudge with her husband that is reflected in her behavior. Now the husband too loves the baby as a father but as a husband expects his wife to understand the stressors that he has in his work life because of which he is tired and unable to attend to the baby. So when he observes that his wife is annoyed with him he too starts “feeling bad”.

So no matter whether one fulfills the other person’s expectation or his own whichever choice one makes i.e. in this example whether to attend to the baby or ignore and expect another to do it, there is a sense of pressure on both due to the situation and also due to the expectation of the other person. So in such cases if we act according to our own preference, we feel displeasure of others that makes us feel bad and if we act as per the demand of the situation going against our own preferences then also we are not happy. So how can we feel free in such situations? Free of all conflict, guilt, or pressure. How is that possible?

We can feel free only if we go beyond our ‘bad feelings” after we have made the choice, no matter what choices we make. If we feel bad in both the choices then what needs to be considered is the feeling behind each one of these choices. So how this “bad feeling” can be changed?

Well, in order to move past these “bad feelings” we need to move past the identities that cause these feelings.

What are these identities? There are several identities in each one of us. However, in most of such cases we mainly live from the identity of being a victim. Also, if one lives from an identity of being a victim he will certainly act like a tyrant at another point. So being a victim and a tyrant are the two sides of the same identity.

However, all this happens at the subconscious level and we are not even conscious of this process. So how can we get liberated from these identities that are not letting us feel good with whatever choices we are making and make us feel like a slave to people and circumstances?

Well, in order to answer this question we first need to ask another question and the question is what will happen if both do not feel like a victim.

If the wife does not feel like a victim she will take care of the baby without feeling bad. This will shift her focus from herself to her husband and she will automatically be able to sense his exhaustion. In which case she would not be able to view her husband’s inaction as his insensitivity towards the baby and herself. At the same time if the husband does not feel like a victim he too will be able to sense his wife’s exhaustion as a cause of her reaction and not her insensitivity towards him.

The important point is that when we feel like a victim we feel this kind of a strain in relationships and end up either losing relationships or our freedom to make decisions based on personal preferences.

So if we get liberated from this identity of being a victim, we can really be free and give others their freedom as well.

In order to be liberated from these identities, the first step is to become “aware” of this kind of an identity in you. If you become aware of this identity then you will also be able to see that how bad and low the identity of being a victim feels. When you realize that this is a bad feeling to be in, you would certainly like to move past this feeling. If you are able to move past this feeling of being a victim, you will automatically be able to move past the guilt of being a tyrant. This would also release you from clutches of people who might be acting like a victim all the time and holding you responsible for their suffering. This would enable you to make free and fair choice based on your preferences. In other words you will discover your inner freedom.

So in order to liberate you from the bad feelings or the “victim” identity let us do the following awareness exercise:

1. Identify if you sometimes really feel like a victim in certain situations.
2. Focus at how bad it feels. Write the name of the emotions that you feel when you feel like a victim.
3. Read the list of emotions 3 times to feel it all over again and let it sink in your awareness that how bad is it.
4. After reading the list burn the paper and just let it all go.

Friends, this is just one of the exercises and there are various ways of releasing these emotions (Like EFT, regression, counseling etc. to name a few). However, the most important thing is to become aware of your emotions and accept the responsibility of releasing the ones that are not letting you experience the inner freedom and joy that comes with it. I wish all my readers increasing freedom and joy with each passing day.
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  1. Well said Prat, me before I got married I already knew that being a wife your always be the one who take the responsibilities when it comes to taking care of your kids, household chores and your responsibilities to your husband as a wife and etc. But all of this are all parts of being a wife and being married. I don't want to think and feel like I am a victim, because if you feel that way you will never have a long lasting relationship. Me, I just enjoy being with my husband and daughter everyday. Life is too short-Enjoy every moment with your family everyone.

  2. Prat-What you've written here is so true. As long as one depends on others and blames others for one's unhappiness and frustrations, one can never feel free. So many people play this victim game-victim of society, victim of their past, of their circumstances, of their fate. Only when a person takes full responsibility for their choices and their actions can they live in harmony with themselves and others.

  3. Dear Prat lovely post and like you have mentioned awareness is soo important In order to be liberated from these identities....

  4. Beautifully written and enlightening post! When we are able to move beyond ourselves and put the other party in the limelight. Life is not always about ourselves. In the story that you had written: if both the husband and the wife were thinking that they were tired and expected the other party to go take care of the baby, then conflict was inevitable when one side finally gave in and went to take care of the crying baby. If either party just put the other party before self, then there would be love and understanding from the relationship. This, however, is a challenge as most people still put self before other.

  5. Well said. Another solution is to put yourself in other's situation and be the other person for a few moments. But it must be done by both at the same time to understand each other and take care of the situation in an optimal way.

  6. Good post, Pratishtha.

    I think, the paradigm within a particular society which says that the husband's task is earning a living while the wife's task is take care of children and household, also plays a role in creating the "victim" situation. Also subordination of women to men is still true in some places. So, I think, they need to realize that building a home-sweet-home is a shared responsibility and equal.

  7. Great post !!!!!I believe it is so vital to identify and accept that we have do have a victim and a tyrant identity at the same time...The process suggested by you is very powerful to get rid of these identities.

    I feel the next step is to focus on the opposite positive identity of being "victim " ..i.e identity of being "capable and strong" and cultivate the positive emotions that you feel...

  8. Dear Pratisha, your article is well written with a lot of life wisdom. I will be back again for more...Thank you for the shout, Zuzanna

  9. Thank you all for the valuable comments.
    Kshitij, I feel that there is only one step to it and that is releasing negative identities. Once it is done what is left is only positivity as we are fundamentally positive beings and that is our true nature.
    When you say that there is another step involved of "cultivating" identity of being "capable and strong", it presume that you are not already capable and strong and what I am suggesting is the release of this very thought which is a negation that says "I am not this." The moment you release this negation, you are able to see that you are already capable and strong. All that is positive is already given and can never be cultivated.

    We need to get rid of all those beliefs inside us that negate our innate positivity we are born with and have learnt to negate.

  10. I see your point Prats...Thanks for clarifying ..So basically...Absence of darkness is light , absence of fear is joy,,,and so on that true ?

  11. Yes, absence of fear is joy. However, darkness is the absence of light and not the other way round. It has got no existence of its own, it is the absence of light and not the presence of something. Now absence of darkness is a fallacy as darkness in itself is an absence of something(i.e. light. If darkness has a presence of its own then only we can talk in terms of its absence. Light, on the contrary has a presence. So we can talk in terms of its absence. The moment we talk of absence of darkness, we presume that it exists as a solid reality, which is not true. However, human mind is capable of conjuring up absences and making them feel real if lot of emotion is involved. So when we say we are not divine, not positive, we are negating presences, which is not a statement of fact. We need to stop negating to get in touch with our true self whose very presence we are negating and it is easy because it is a solid reality.

  12. Super...thanks for your clarifications. It as indeed very helpful :-)