"Everything can be taken from a man except for one thing—the last of all human freedoms: The ability to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances, the ability to choose one’s own way." – Viktor Frankel
When we were young we longed for freedom – the freedom to eat candy at midnight, the freedom to stay up late and watch scary movies, the freedom to go wherever we wanted to go, whenever we wanted to go there. We imagined taking advantage of the perks of adulthood 24/7, like one big, never-ending celebration.
Our younger selves may have imagined us as free and independent souls by the time we became grown-ups. But how many of us really feel free?
From time to time we can feel like we are trapped in various aspects of our lives. Some feel trapped in their careers, others by family obligations or relationships. And still others blame health issues for a seeming lack of opportunity. While these obstacles undoubtedly impact our lives in significant ways, they do not hold the keys to our freedom.
It’s easy to blame things outside of ourselves, listing all the reasons we cannot do this, try that, or strive for better. “So many people remain in situations that make them feel miserable,” says Karen Berg. “They stick it out because they don’t know how to change their circumstances. We stay in a relationship that’s no good, but we think it is easier than being alone. We stay in an unfulfilling job for the same reason. Most of us are slaves to something. But when we live in bondage to a situation or a person, we leave no space for the Light of the Creator to do His work.”
The truth is, the thing that actually enslaves us is often our own inability to think differently about our circumstances. Try this exercise: ask yourself what it is you really want to change right now. Now, ask yourself, why you can’t achieve this. It’s very likely the latter question immediately sparked a series of excuses. Each time an excuse pops into your head, ask yourself why again. Keep asking until you uncover the real thing holding you back.
Is it fear? Doubt? Feeling overwhelmed? Whatever the true culprit, reframing the way you see your situation and your options can often be enough to open up opportunities. It’s easy to feel trapped by negative thoughts. What we often don’t realize is that we are free to make changes in our lives at any time. We can alter our schedules, we can decline obligations, and we can begin new endeavors whenever we notice something isn’t working for us. And yes, we can change the way we view life.
“Being free means that we stop and ask ourselves what it is within ourselves that we need to change,” says Karen Berg, “rather than immediately jumping into our usual reaction pattern of blame, anger, sadness or whatever it is. ‘Out of the house of bondage’ has another meaning: that nothing and no one outside of us can keep us enslaved. Whether we are in prison, in bed with an illness, or surrounded by whatever darkness that may hover around us, we know that the darkness can never overwhelm our soul. If we can bring ourselves into this headspace, then we can be totally free.”
Believe it or not the Creator is always on your side. As soon as you make a decision to make a change for the better, the Light of the Creator begins to open doors to assist you in your efforts. You are always free to make a change and you are never alone. After all, as Karen Berg reminds us, "To be a slave to anything is to deny the fact that you are part of the Creator." If change is what you seek, take time to reframe your circumstances. No matter how dark or heavy, you are free to alter aspects of your life, even if it’s only shifting the way you see your situation. When you make a conscious choice to exercise your freedom, you become a beacon of Light for others who may also seek change.