What is Personal Freedom?
As simple as the question may be, this is very hard to answer. As I discovered the meaning of personal freedom has a different connotation to almost everyone, I spoke too. To some it was financially self-sufficient; to others, it was civil liberties and to many it was being stress-free. It was evident, that personal freedom is different for every single individual.
Look firstly at the definition of Freedom as per the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
If you look at research papers, it is apparent that personal freedom has been debated for many decades to actually what it means. Theorists have placed it into two buckets; positive and negative freedom.
Positive Freedom – is defined as the potential to behave and enact oneself to achieve goals and overcome challenges within the legal, community, economic, personal situation environments and boundaries. This assumes that that presence of situation in which you can enact in a self-determined and autonomous way.
Negative Freedom – is defined as there are no obstructions that hinder you to realising your goals. It supports the idea of the ability to achieve your goals is only limited to oneself rather than restricted by the legal, community, economic, personal situation environments and boundaries.
I believe personal freedom is more deep-rooted. It comes from within oneself. I think it is a state of mind that determines the sense of own freedom.
Every single person I spoke to wanted, as based on having ongoing happiness, trouble-free, stress-free, no self-doubt, confidence, ability to do anything they want at any time.
Personal freedom is an individual thing. The core of a persons freedom is the innermost sense of;
- Being content and self-reliance
- Personal values and ethics
- Understanding and being one with oneself
- Stability in one
- Control over their health
- Emotional, physical, and financial security
Ultimately, my definition of personal freedom is one of inner peace, contentment, and satisfaction.
Why does Personal Freedom seem so unattainable?
Yes, this may be a definition though I see personal freedom as a state of mind and not being contributed to by the environment or condition. It’s a mindset that all is fine with the world and the universe no matter the external factors. For example, I believe Nelson Mandela despite his 28-year incarceration has always had his personal freedom.
We all entered this world differently. Not everyone has the same privileges, rights, education, political environments, financial access or support structures and more. We had no say into the environment we brought on board and had no control, though we do have control of our inner environment.
All of us have had dreams of where and want we would like to see our life to be. We have all been brought into this world having been given the resources, capability and power to make them a reality.
There is no denying some of the external factors that impact the ability to have genuine personal freedom. I know these have impacted me in the past such factors as;
- Civil Liberties
For me, as much as I agree that external factors can be impactful, I believe in my definition of personal freedom. My personal freedom state of mind is forever being challenged by many external factors. And yes, they at times penetrate it.
Removing these external factors is more easily said than done!!
It takes a lot of effort.
Can “true” personal freedom be achieved for an ordinary person?
With everything that is going on around us, getting to true personal freedom seems a too big a stretch. Why even try if it is not attainable? Is there an ultimate sense of freedom? Can it ever be truly achieved? Does personal freedom bring happiness? Does it bring contentment? Do we really want or need personal freedom? Is total personal freedom good for the community? These are all interesting and valid question, I have often asked myself.
I am just a “bloke” in the suburbs of Sydney. You wouldn’t be able to pick me out at the local shopping centre. I believe I have achieved it. It has taken a lot of effort. I have had help. And I have gone as close to it as possible.
Yes, personal freedom can be achieved! It’s worth it!
I couldn’t have done it by myself.
I do have occasional lapses.
The feeling of bliss, confidence, self-satisfaction, inner peace, belief and trust in oneself. It is hard to describe. It is more than happy as this is fleeting. It’s “like” it is all good always.
Over the last number of years, the changes I made in my life has transformed me. I have accomplished more than ever I thought possible. I have out surpassed a number of my dreams.
Personal Freedom starts with oneself
It all starts yourself. It is your thoughts, your language you use, conscious language and subconscious thought (I will elaborate I this is another article), self-beliefs, self-talk, your dream, values, and beliefs. How often we hear stories of incredible achievements. It’s no fluke.
How did I go about moving to true personal freedom?
The initial areas that I work on were
- Personal Responsibility and accountability
- Values and ethics
- My Personal Freedom definition
- Why do I want Personal Freedom?
- Reinitiating my dreams and goals of life
- Have positive affirmations around me
- Having a set of personal daily, weekly, and yearly plan and goals
1. Personal Responsibility and Accountability
I can assure you, and I had to reprogram myself in so many ways. I had to change from a victim mentality to be accountable. I had a good look at myself. I to break down so many aspects to get to understand how I got to where I am today.
The most important thing is to take RESPONSIBILITY and ACCOUNTABILITY of yourself. This is easier said than done.
2. Values and ethics
This was an interesting exercise. It is not as straight forward as it sounds. Try writing them down and then prioritizing them.
I have done a fair bit of research of what values and ethics were to start off, then going through and evaluating each one individually.
It took me close to 3 elapsed months. I had discussions with friends, family work colleagues to discuss values and ethics. Fascinating discussion to be had. So many different ideas.
As an example, when say family, yes family values for most people is essential. But you need to go down several layers to see what it really means.
Another example is fairness. What is fair and reasonable to you may not be fair and reasonable to me. Look at the middle east where women are oppressed, and it is seen as fair.
3. My Personal Freedom definition
A healthy discussion on personal freedom with family and friends is a must. It will help and support your own version of personal freedom. On how it is comprised. What it means to you.
4. Reinitiating my dreams and goals of life
I had lost my dreams over a number of years, through a series of events in my life, both financial, business, relationships, and family. I felt a loss with life.
After some help, I recreated my dreams. I created an (extensive) list and have been pursuing and reaching them over the last number of years.
Write them down, pin them it to the wall, put pictures up on your wall, have them on your phone.
5. Have positive affirmations around me
To help change my mindset, I created a bunch of positive affirmations. I printed off, laminated them and placed them around home, in draws, in cupboards, in the sock’s drawer, in the bathroom cupboard, written on the bathroom mirror. You get the idea.
I would say them out loud.
6. Having a set of personal daily, weekly, and yearly plan and goals
I created a range of short- and long-term activities. The most important thing is to do something every day to create your personal freedom.
Some of the daily activities on my freedom plan include:
- Short daily mediation
- Thank the universe for my life.
- Eat healthily
- Say my daily affirmations three times a day out loud and write them down
- Review my dreams
- Do daily exercise at least 30 minutes per day
- Do one activity to reach my long-term goal. No matter how small
- Laugh out loud several times a day
As you can see, it is not overly onerous. It helped me
Personal change is not easy. It takes effort and some time is unpleasant. It is well worth the effort.
Do you think “true” personal freedom is something for psychologists and philosophers or goes it really apply to individuals? Has it any meaning to you?
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