The Constitution of the United States affirms that each person is endowed with the inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This is true for everyone on the planet, not just people residing in the US; although in this country, you are provided with the freedoms necessary to enjoy these rights.

In the first part of the series, we discussed the difference between living an extraordinary life and living to survive. In this article, we explore our right to liberty. The American Heritage Dictionary defines liberty as “the condition of being free from restriction or control; the right to act or believe as one chooses”. We have the right to act as we please but are we really free? With so many people and institutions telling us how to live, how to be and what to do, are we free?

We are free insomuch as we accept responsibility for that freedom. Our forefathers reminded us of our right to freedom but each of us has to see it and taste it and touch it for ourselves. You must acknowledge your freedom and allow yourself to live free by identifying the ways in which you are not free and by liberating yourself.

What impinges upon your freedom? Are you in a relationship that does not offer you the option for making your own decisions? Are you in a job that is less than fulfilling or where people do not treat you respectfully or who do not value your brilliance? Do you tend to look to others for attention, to feel loved or needed, for direction or answers, or to be rescued? In what ways do you live where you feel as though you have no choices?

You always have a choice, even if other people try to make you think that they know better how you should live. You can learn to make good choices for yourself and take back your power.

Do you put your children or your spouse or your work first to the point of neglecting your own needs? And then feel guilty when you even consider taking care of yourself? For example, how do you feel about staying home from work when you’re sick? Anytime you place something or someone before your own needs and before your own ideas of right and wrong, any time you go to sleep wishing things were different in your life, you are recognizing your own little prison. You are not free.

Fear. Guilt. Shame. Anger. Living in the past. Lack of integrity. “Shoulds” and societal expectations. Habits and bad patterns of behavior. Old beliefs or paradigms that no longer serve you. Your ego. Needing approval from others and people-pleasing. These are all examples of things that encroach upon your freedom-your freedom to simply be YOU.

In order to live completely free, you must accept responsibility for yourself and for your life. Completely. You are responsible for your body and your work and how much you work and your relationships with your children, spouse, coworkers, friends and family. This is your life and everything you do, everything you say, every emotion you experience, is yours. You can do what you want with your life. If it’s not happy for you, you are responsible to do something differently.

I have found that many people first need permission – permission to be free, to be themselves, to pursue their dreams. You have it! You have permission to be YOU. Just believe it – if you think it, then start acting on those thoughts, ideas and beliefs, then you will show up or present yourself differently and you experience different results.

Take an assessment of your life. How are you living in a prison? Are you in a bad relationship or unhappy in your career? Are you living under outdated or unrealistic goals? Or living by someone else’s rules or expectations? Do you continue to do things the same way or follow traditions because you’ve always done it that way never questioning whether it makes you happy to do so? Are you holding onto the past, living in fear or living to gratify your ego? (Ego satisfaction only brings illusionary and temporary gratification; true happiness remains elusive since the chase is never ending. The ego is a fool’s master.)

The first step is to see, to awaken to the reality, to stop living in denial, and to acknowledge the truth – your truth. Awareness is the key to unlock your prison door. You must decide to free yourself and commit to learning whatever you need to live free. In the book, The Journey Called YOU, I teach the prescription for freeing yourself to live a great life: know who you are, accept whatever you discover about yourself and your life without judgment, and then honor yourself by making choices out of love and respect for YOU. This process is how we all must learn to live if we are to live free and fulfilled lives. It is about taking yourself seriously and honoring the wonderful person you are simply because you are.

There is no one holding you back but you, no one in your way but you. You must learn to forgive the past, move into the present reality by accepting what is, and create a great future for yourself by envisioning what you want and then taking the necessary steps to get there.

Life is a wonderful journey. And wherever you are right now is a great starting point for you to change course. Your vision for your future must be more compelling than the thought of things remaining the same. You must be willing to let go of what is in order to allow yourself to dream of other possibilities. And it is possible to dream and to create something better for your self. Only you can give yourself that gift – the gift of freedom.

So although our forefathers reminded us of liberty or the right to be free to make choices for ourselves, it is each of us who is responsible for choosing to be free by making choices that honor ourselves. The more you trust in your own ability to choose right and wrong for you, the less you need to look outside yourself for answers. In fact, you learn that no one has your answers to life’s questions. They can only share their own answers. You alone must define success and happiness and your own level of integrity. You alone can make choices that move you in the direction of your vision for how you want your life to be. Others can act as guides, mentors, coaches, but you alone must discover the answers that serve you in your life. When you know yourself - all the wonderful things there are to know about you and how you think - then you truly live. When you free yourself from living a life according to other people’s standards and expectations and chart your own course, you truly live.

Here’s to your freedom…

Don’t miss the follow up article on the pursuit of happiness. If you’d like to receive a copy of the first article in the series, send an email to Julie@nurturingyoursuccess.com.

Author's Bio: 

Are you ready to free yourself from the confines of self-imposed prisons? Let’s get you out of the muck and into success-whatever that looks like for you! Contact me today at (610) 277-2726 or Julie@nurturingyoursuccess.com to see how coaching would support you in achieving the results you want. Julie Fuimano, MBA, BSN, RN is a Success Coach and author of “The Journey Called YOU: A Roadmap to Self-Discovery and Acceptance,” the manual for unleashing the power of you. Sign up for our powerful e-newsletter or purchase your copy of the book at www.nurturingyoursuccess.com.