How Free Are You?

What is your personal “sense” of freedom?

How free are you?

Every Independence Day we celebrate freedom, but these days we can also hear the groan of tragedy. It can make it seem less like celebrating and less like fireworks, especially for those who are most affected.

What do you do with the gigantic tragedies caused by climate change, natural disasters, or the uneasy feelings of the actions of a government that affect a part of the world so intertwined with our own?

Tragedy seems to rob freedom. The truth us that it brings it. One of the things that tragedy brings is the knowledge that learning the “why” this or that happened, focusing on asking “why,” doesn’t solve a thing, especially not in tragedy.

The “why” doesn’t bring anyone or anything back. We may be comforted with the knowledge that lessons will be learned, but the real tragedy still confronts.

What is necessary is a very special kind of freedom. Focus on the “why,” explanations and rationalizations, and reasons go out the window in the face of a more basic question.

What will I become?  What will I do? How is it that we do not despair? How is it that we have any kind of courage in the face of disaster that can happen in a few minutes or seconds?

How is it that we move on when we are blinded by grief or fear on any level of loss?

What we find is that the anxiety that used to fill us over what might happen is replaced by the fact that we can and we do have the strength to step up. It’s just in us. IT IS IN US!

When the chips are down, all of the time we spent worrying looks entirely futile because we are in the midst of the tragedy doing what we have to do with the strength to do it. It was absolutely useless to worry and waste time with anxiety.

Think about it. If we could take all of the energy we spend worrying in anticipation and fearing the future, and just harness it in our present, knowing and believing that we would have the strength to face the tragedy, what difference would that make in the now?

We are most moved and brought to tears by the everyday people who do heroic things.

And this is the truth. That same heroism and courage are within everyone.

We all have it when the chips are down.

What we need to learn is to play these chips of strengths, courage, and resilience, a few at a time, and allow them to teach us what they have to teach us.

Each day we can see anxiety and worry for the shadow of a lie that it is.

And so not only on Independence Day but every day of our lives, we are as “independent” and as free as we know this to be true about ourselves and can celebrate it.

The capacity for celebration is a sign of our ability to make the truth about our own strength and resilience more and more pervasive in our own knowing about ourselves.

About the author

Dr. William K. Larkin

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute