The Ultimate Guide To Finding Freedom In Your Life

What is freedom?

Freedom is showing up as yourself in the world unapologetically.  It’s taking off the mask and not being afraid to show your true self.  It’s not being worried about what other people think, not because you don’t care about them, but because you love yourself so much that you don’t need their approval.  Self-love equals the freedom to be your truest self.

Self-love is tied to our enoughness, our realization that we are perfect in our essence, our being.  We don’t have to do anything in order to earn love and acceptance, we already have it within ourselves when we learn to appreciate who we are and what we are without striving or achieving. We already are enough. You are enough.

In order to drill that into your head and allow your body to integrate, you must practice self-love. We practice self-love by taking time to meditate, going on long walks with ourselves, and one of my favorite activities, journaling…

When we spend intentional time loving ourselves, we shape our own freedom.  When we take a step forward, practice lowering the mask, and speak a little more truth than we did the day before, we inch ourselves closer to the freedom that we so desperately crave.

Here are a few ways you may be shrinking back without even realizing it:

1. Compartmentalizing

Where in your life do you keep things separate?  Do you have one group of friends that you don’t introduce to another group of friends?  Do you keep your romantic relationships separate from friendships or family?  What about creative endeavors?  Do you share them with others or hide them away for fear of rejection?

When we compartmentalize our lives, we are living out of integrity with ourselves, fearing rejection or judgment in one way or another.  Notice what you are still compartmentalizing and make a small move this week to live more wholly as yourself.

2. Saying yes when you mean no

Will the people pleasers in the room please stand up?  Yup, this one’s a big one for me.  As a chronic people-pleaser, always worried about everyone else’s feelings but my own, it’s often hard for me to tell people no.  This has been a long road of learning to say no without taking on other people’s feelings as my responsibility.  Sometimes it even means saying no to things you DO want to do but know you’d be more rewarded or fulfilled doing something else. For example, saying no to a trip to London so you can say yes to finish writing your book.  Let your yes mean yes and your no mean no.  Part of practicing self-love is protecting your time and energy.

3. Laughing at stuff that isn’t funny

This may seem petty, but how many times do you catch yourself laughing at jokes you don’t agree with or don’t find funny simply so you don’t rock the boat or stir the waters? This too is living out of alignment with your true self. I’m not saying that you need to start raising cane and arguing with everyone you disagree with; I’m just saying you shouldn’t feel the need to act a certain way just to fit in or keep everyone happy.  Again, other people’s feelings and opinions are not your responsibility.  Your number one priority is your own happiness.

4. Not expressing yourself how you want to

Ever wanted to start a blog, host a podcast, try your hand at painting, or handball?  By denying yourself the right of self-expression of any sort, you are shrinking back, staying in a façade rather than bursting forth into your true essence, the part of you that you were born to embrace.  By resisting self-expression, you are not practicing self-love but self-deprivation.  You’re practicing being fake—separate from your own soul.

Now that we know how we shrink ourselves back, let’s look at a few ways we can practice self-love, thus embracing our true selves and winning back our brightest freedom.

1. Celebrating your wins

This one is so small and so stinkin’ easy to forget, but man, is it important!  How often do you stop and take time to celebrate your wins?  When you hit a new level in your workout, or accomplish something big at work or discover a new depth in your poetry, do you take time to celebrate?  Take a bath, pop a bottle, buy yourself something small and frivolous like a nice brand of tea or a new crystal, hug yourself, have a private dance sesh, put a gold star in your planner—whatever feels fun and celebratory, make sure you take time and do it!  This is so good for your self-love and self-confidence.

2. Rocking your style

Tomorrow morning, when you go to your closet, pick out the most YOU-nique outfit you can come up with. Craft that totally YOU, not-trying-to-fit-into-any-category, fan-tabulous outfit and wear it like you own the runway.  Throw on some shades too and tell yourself how awesome you are, how great you look, and how much fun you’re going to have all day long just knowing that you are feelin’ yourself in your original threads.

3. Expressing yourself

You had to see this one coming.  Pick up a pen and paper, grab some crayons, sing along to Shania Twain, dance around your apartment—whatever feels good and moves you, do it.  Self-expression is one of the most kind and loving things we can do for ourselves, but we must allow ourselves the space and time to do it.  In a world rushing way too fast, it can feel like these silly little gestures are unnecessarily cutting into our productivity schedule, but please do yourself a favor and let the light in.  Having fun isn’t a crime, it’s love-inducing.

4. Follow the joy breadcrumbs

Again, when we get so caught up in the hustle and grind, we forget to have fun and enjoy ourselves. What’s calling you to give it a try? What new experience piques your curiosity but seems out of reach?  Is there something you LOVE to do but haven’t made time for it lately? Stop fighting the crazy call to have fun with logic and get out there and give it a whirl!  It’s okay if you fail. It’s okay if there is no point to it.  It’s okay if you’re trying something “just because.”  Having fun is what fuels our joy, which fuels our creativity, which increases our fulfillment in life.  Follow your heart and you’ll love yourself more for it.

When we take time to love ourselves fully by totally embracing who we already are, we stop trying to hide behind facades. We quit playing charades, and we quit living in fear of what others are going to think. Instead, we create space for ourselves to dance freely, live vibrantly, and shine so brightly that others will inevitably be attracted to our joy and abundance. The ones who don’t get it will drop away, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You weren’t made to please everyone, you were made to be 100% YOU.

Take some time today to love yourself. Take a bubble bath, drink some tea, put your feet in the grass, and enjoy the breath in your lungs. You are incredible just the way you are, and you have nothing to prove to anyone. Love yourself first and foremost and the rest will fall into place.

How will you make freedom your priority today?

7 Signs You’re Growing As A Person, Even If It Doesn’t Feel Like You Are

Sometimes, growth is subtle. Often, we only see it clearly in retrospect. Though we often assume that our growth will be completely evident to us, it’s usually the small shifts, done repeatedly, that make the biggest difference. Here are a few signs that you’re really growing as a person, even if it doesn’t feel like you are.

1. You’ve let go of an old dream.

One of the universal markers of inner growth is always a heightened degree of self-awareness, and that can very often come from realizing that what we are pursuing might not really be what we want.

The truth is that we outgrow our dreams and plans more frequently than we realize, and if we aren’t conscious of what’s happening, it can seem as though we’ve lost out, missed an opportunity, or didn’t actualize our potential.

In reality, we let go of old dreams because they were designed for a person we no longer are.

2. You’re no longer content to live a surface-level existence.

Instead of looking good, you are more interested in feeling good. Instead of appearing as though you have a cool weekend, you want to have a fulfilling and relaxing weekend. Instead of trying to earn approval, you’re more interested in digging up your own self-love.

You might still love social media, but you understand that it is a piece of life, not your entire existenceYou might still love to put yourself together well, but you understand that you have to like what you see in the mirror, because trying to constantly mold yourself to other people’s standards is a game you can’t win.

Your life is starting to take on more depth and substance, and it’s because you realize that you can never truly feel fulfilled just existing on the surface.

3. You want to understand why.

You’re no longer content to just accept things as “the way it is,” you want to really understand.

You want to understand why some people react certain ways, or hold limiting and false beliefs. You want to understand why a relationship ended the way it did, and what role you did or didn’t play in how it unfolded. You want to understand why you’re triggered by certain things, why you respond the way you do, why you think the way you do.

This is the entryway to truly changing your life. You’re finally asking the right questions, and beginning to see just how many people live on auto-pilot.

You do not want to be one of them.

4. You might feel embarrassed about past choices.

While nobody ever has to feel embarrassed about their past, many people do, especially when going through periods of more intense growth.

You might look back on what you said, did and wore even in recent history and cringe. This is because you’re starting to realize that a lot of those decisions were actually coming from a place of insecurity, or a desire to fit in, or unconscious beliefs that were never questioned.

While it might be uncomfortable on the surface, being able to look back at your past self and realize that you are different from them is often a huge sign of real growth.

5. You’ve lost touch with a lot of people, or a big relationship ended.

This is almost always one of the biggest signs that someone is changing — when their social circle no longer fits them anymore.

It’s not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with you or them, simply that you might not have anything in common anymore. You are changing, and so the people you attract and “click” with do, too.

On the other hand, you may have lost a close relationship, which shook you awake and prompted you to begin a journey of self-discovery. While this is important, remember that it’s okay to grieve, and know that people phase in and out of our lives (yes, even the ones we care most about) for a reason.

Trust that process.

6. You’re more concerned about quality than quantity.

Work, friends, experiences — no matter what it is, you’re no longer able to sustain a fast paced life with minimal substance.

Now, you’re more interested in having a few really close friends as opposed to dozens of acquaintances. You’d rather do a few projects really, really well than try to fill your days with work and hope it all turns out okay. You’d rather take one or two trips and have them be the exact experiences you want than constantly be on the move but not really being present.

Rather than having a lot of things, you realize that all you need is a few really good ones.

Anything else just spreads you too thin, and never really gets you what you want anyway.

7. You’re rediscovering your soul.

You’re remembering your love for music, art, or creativity.

You’re listening to songs that make you feel again. You find yourself crying with relief, or sadness. You are empathizing with others. You are redesigning all of the details of your life with more heart and care than you ever have before.

This means that you’re coming home to yourself.

You’re rediscovering the essence of who you are, and you’re opening back up to your soul.

Even if you closed off for a while out of self-protection, this piece of you was always there, waiting for you to reach inward again, and allow it to be.

How To Free Yourself From Your Ego in 3 Easy Steps

If you participate in any kind of self-reflective practice such as yoga or meditation, you’re probably familiar with the concept of the ego: that little voice inside you that is the source of so much worry, anxiety, and suffering. While this voice will always be there, it is possible to quiet it so that it doesn’t have as much of an impact on your life. The first step in doing so is understanding exactly what the ego is and what it’s trying to teach you.

What is the ego?

See, the ego used to have an important job—getting us all hyped up and aware of our surroundings in case a saber-toothed tiger was lurking around the corner. These days we don’t run into dangers like that all that often. But the ego (industrious little thing that it is) needs to feel employed and important. It does this by inspiring fear, self-judgment, and judgment of others.

How the ego shows up in our lives.

Think about the source of any of your anxieties. I’m going to bet a lot of them have to do with future projections (i.e., “If I don’t get this raise, then…” or “What if I never meet someone…?” or, even, “What will I wear to the…?”). But here’s the secret, and this blew me away when I realized it: The future does not exist anywhere but in your mind.

All these future events your ego is worrying about? They don’t exist. I mean, maybe you won’t get that promotion. What happens then? Well, you’ll deal with it in the moment just like you’ve always dealt with any hardship. Projecting about it and worrying about it is a useless waste of your energy. When you find yourself projecting, ask yourself the following question: Can I do anything about this right now? If the answer is no, then stop worrying. Listen to your breath and allow it to bring you into the moment. Do something that brings you joy. If the answer is yes, then stop worrying and get busy.

The same thing applies to the past. The ego loves to keep us trapped there—rehashing old hurts, perceived mistakes, ancient regrets. What good do these obsessions do? Presumably, you’ve learned the lesson and you have or will apply it to future decisions. You did the best you could. Now move on.

Your ego thrives on separating you from the moment and from others who share in this moment with you. Here are three strategies that can help you free yourself from it:

1. Choose love.

In the words of Gabrielle Bernstein, a spiritual and motivational speaker, “Whenever you’re afraid, it’s proof that you’ve turned your back on love and chosen to have faith in the ego.” In her philosophy, love is the only emotion. Fear is an illusion. As soon as you have a fearful or anxious thought, tell yourself (again, from Gabrielle Bernstein), “Love did not create this thought, and so it is not real.”

Start telling yourself “If love did not create it, it is not real,” and see if it brings you a new perspective on your situation. It’s amazing how solutions suddenly occur to you once you’re no longer trapped in the fear/anxiety loop.

2. Never complain.

Negativity is the source from which self-disgust, self-hatred, and self-sabotage springs—and the ego loves it, this self-imposed separation. Challenge yourself to stop complaining for a week, and see what happens. Whenever you catch yourself getting negative, try to come back to gratitude and see how life opens up for you. If you need more motivation, start a complaining fund—every time you catch yourself complaining, drop a quarter (or a dollar or a $20, whatever keeps you in line) into a jar. The ego always wants to improve on the current moment. Don’t let it draw you down that path. Breathe. Find something beautiful.

3. When all else fails, be grateful.

It’s hard to be down and out while also feeling grateful. You may try the above suggestions and find that you begin to get angry. You start to feel like all this self-work and self-reflection is pointless and you should be able to feel and say and eat and think and watch what you like. This is totally normal. This is the ego defending itself. It’s throwing up any obstacle it can into your path. Its main goal, remember, is to maintain the separation.

This whole practice of dissolving ego is like one big detox. You know the headaches, cravings, and bad mood that can follow a night of indulging? That’s your liver detoxing. The anger and self-righteousness you begin to feel after starting this process is the same thing. And just like a hangover, all you can do is wait it out and make the best choices you can stomach.

When the anger strikes, grab a piece of paper and begin writing down all the things for which you are grateful. Start small and keep writing. Is the sun coming through the window? Or maybe it’s raining and you love the rain. Maybe your favorite show is on later. Maybe your socks match and that makes you happy. Just write it down. This is your one small step back toward your path.

Working on yourself in this way can be exhausting, so don’t feel like you’ve failed if you have a fearful or anxious thought. Striving for perfection is a trait of the ego too. So remember that each breath, each moment, each movement you make is your destination. Even as you begin, know you have already arrived.