Freedom to Move Within Your Own Mind
I’ve always been afraid of flying in airplanes. I don’t mean ‘just a little anxiety’ as the jet speeds down the runway for take off. I am white-knuckled most of the flight, silently repeating The Lord’s Prayer under my breath, and sometimes grabbing the stranger next to me to let them know if I pass out – it isn’t because I have a medical condition. My husband however, loves to fly. He gets a rush as the plane gets higher, excitedly looks out the window the whole flight, and says that flying makes him feel ‘free as a bird’. I go immediately into panic mode the minute I hear the Captain say….”Well folks, we’ve reached a comfortable cruising altitude of 39,000 feet. I’ve turned off the fasten seat belt sign so you are free to move about the cabin”. FREE to move about the cabin?! While other people stand up to stretch and casually walk up and down the aisle, I want to put my head between my knees and hyperventilate into my purse!
But thinking about this fear of flying (and how it holds me hostage) has gotten me thinking about the word ‘freedom’ and how often we may limit ourselves by what we believe or think we are experiencing. The dictionary defines the word freedom as: The power or right to act, speak or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. The state of not being imprisoned or enslaved. The absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action.
What does the word freedom mean to you? Do you feel ‘free to move about the cabin’ in your own daily life? Are you free to make choices that fulfill you? Do you consciously choose better feeling thoughts when faced with a problem or do you ‘white-knuckle’ it, imagining worst-case possibilities that make you fearful?
Dr. Viktor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor has this to say about freedom in his book Man’s Search for Meaning… “Everything can be taken from a man but the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way”.
In other words, in all situations, no matter how desperate they may appear or actually be, you always have the ultimate freedom to choose your attitude. Keep in mind that Dr. Frankl experienced the worst of humanity including cruelty, starvation, and the horror of watching loved ones be killed in front of him. And still…during that ordeal (and after he managed to survive it) he believed that we are all free to choose our own thoughts and thereby ‘to live any kind of life we want, if only in our mind’. That to me…defines ‘freedom’ in a way I never really considered before.
I invite you to see where you might be holding yourself captive by looking at your current life circumstances and if there is anywhere you don’t feel ‘free’. Is there something you don’t feel free to say or do or be? Why? (There is no judgment here; this is just an opportunity to observe those thoughts).
Some captive thoughts might look like this…”I’m not free to do what I want because I have too many obligations to others. I’m not free to change jobs because I might not find anything better. I’m not free to travel the world because I am scared to death of flying over the ocean. (I am working on this!) I’m not free to take that class, set a boundary, take that risk, etc. because of whatever you want to fill in the blank with:
“I’m not free to_______________because_____________________.
Now ask yourself, “What’s another way I could look at this?” Is this a ‘story’ you’ve told yourself for a long time? Is there a thought that feels better? Is there a solution you haven’t considered before? I’ve heard it said that ‘the problem is not the problem. The problem is what you’re THINKING about the problem’.
Things always work out for me and I got the short end of the stick yet again can be equally true. If you believe in the law of attraction (that you bring about what you think about… it behooves you (and me!) to really get your thoughts and feelings into alignment! A freer feeling thought such as ‘I am choosing to put my money towards reducing debt right now vs. I’ll never be able to afford to buy XYZ’ is more empowering wouldn’t you say?
So maybe it IS possible for me to find a way to enjoy a flight (Hypnosis? Medication?) And be less concerned about getting my rosary beads through security or if I will fit in the neighboring passenger’s lap. Then I’ll feel free to move about the cabin and soar to new heights! Join me?