In my lifetime, I’ve had a diverse set of experiences but only recently have I begun to embrace the possibilities of personal freedom.
Freedom from those things that have always whispered in my subconscious. Freedom from the buried pain of my childhood and the (many) mistakes I’ve made as an adult woman. Freedom not from others or the wrong paths I’ve sometimes traveled, but from my own internal interpretation and reactions to those people and situations.
All Your Memories Can’t Be Good Ones
No one reaches middle-age without a mixture of beauty, heartache, self-doubt, and grief.
Your life is filled with ups and downs, successes and failures, gains and losses. The positive moments and people heal your heart and mind, showing you new possibilities and opening your eyes to purpose. The negative moments and people leave scars.Positive moments heal your heart and mind, showing you new possibilities. #PositivityClick To Tweet
Sustained negativity causes what I call “the flinch.”
That’s when an opportunity (personal, professional, financial) appears in front of you and part (or all) of you flinches from it in fear, insecurity, or self-denial. Your subconscious mind provides a laundry list of everything that can go wrong while your conscious mind tries to list everything that can go right.
Depending on your past “wins” compared to the scars you carry, you either take the safe and familiar road or a leap of faith.
I’ve flinched a lot. It’s easy to talk about “acceptable risk” and “statistical probability of success” but your own mind is your greatest asset as well as your biggest obstacle.
Defining Your Baggage to Achieve Personal Freedom
Before you can toss the negative baggage from your life, you have to figure out what yours is. It’s different for every person. Your baggage may seem odd to others as my quirks absolutely do to friends and family. In the last couple of days, I’ve identified a new piece of baggage.
It’s kind of shocking to discover new things about yourself at my age!
Anyone who knows me knows I lead a sharply minimalist lifestyle. I don’t like clutter and I don’t buy a bunch of things just to buy them. I’ve never been a stuff person. As a result, I intensely question anything I buy for myself.
Yesterday, I did something I’ve never done before…I spent more than $25 for a bag. All my life, I’ve bought purses, laptop bags, and luggage that never exceeded this arbitrary (and staunchly followed) limit I applied.
I bought a beautiful travel bag that cost $60 and it made my heart race in nervousness. I didn’t need it. I had no justification to buy it. It was a want, not very extravagant in a world of name brand everything, bought with money I earned, yet I tried to talk myself out of it.
That’s when I recognized something holding me back from true personal freedom.
As a child, the woman who raised me lived a life of excess. She owned unbelievable amounts of shoes, clothes, pieces of jewelry, home goods, and random material possessions that filled her world (and mine by association).
I was determined never to be like her because in addition to being a shopaholic, she was also joyfully cruel and the most selfish person I’ve ever known.
Without realizing it, each time I made a purchase for myself, there was a trigger…a flinch in the back of my mind. A subconscious recall of the bone-deep fear she once inspired in me.
It had nothing to do with the item at all. It wasn’t about money.
I thought I put my past with her behind me decades ago. That I’d grown well beyond the nightmares she used to give me. This was something that somehow lingered into my present. A small piece of baggage I was still carrying 30 years after the last time she had control over my life. I couldn’t believe it.
I ignored the flinch.
I bought that bag that I wanted and admired but didn’t need. Then I spent a lot of time thinking about the woman who ruled my entire universe with an iron fist until I was fifteen.
I believe I have consciously and subconsciously let her go at last. I forgave the child I used to be for being unable to protect myself, for feeling weak and stupid. I forgave her for being flawed and incapable of love or mercy.
I’m sure she carried her own baggage.
Own Your Past, Live Your Present, Plan Your Future
If something or someone doesn’t add to your life, there’s a good chance it/they are probably taking away from your life. This holds true in relationships, careers, and how you talk to yourself when no one else is around.
Human beings are incredible, resilient, and adaptable. Unfortunately, we also have long memories. Some memories and pain we bury deep. They’re not resolved but ignored.Human beings are incredible, resilient, and adaptable. Click To Tweet
They won’t be ignored forever. They can rear their ugly heads when you least expect it. Sometimes you don’t even recognize it for what it is.
I’ve always prided myself on moving on, getting on with my life, and it seems I’ve started over again and again. I never imagined I’d be the type to make the same mistake more than once. When it comes to emotional relationships, I’ve gotten into a few that weren’t good for me from day one but I ignored it, pretended all was well, and allowed them to destroy years of happiness.
I own my past. I accept that I made some really stupid decisions because I felt weak, guilty, or obligated. On the heels of my third (yes, third) divorce, I’m committing to myself and my happiness.
I’m living in my present. I’m fully here for the first time in more than two decades. I’m learning who I am now after completely ignoring the young woman I used to be.
I’m planning my future. Not based on my significant others. Not based on my (now grown) kids. Not rooted in jobs I hate or obligations I feel pressured to fulfill. It seems my conscious and subconscious minds are finally on the same page. I feel more focused than ever before because I finally listened to that little girl’s voice in the back of my head. The one who was still just trying to survive. She was so focused on surviving that she forgot how to live.
It’s okay to help others, to love fiercely. You can’t forget to help yourself, to love yourself. It’s never too late to correct your course. It’s never too late to put down that heavy baggage and try something new.Take a leap of faith and let it go. #PersonalFreedom Click To Tweet
Take a leap of faith and let it go. Personal freedom, for the first time in my 45 years of life, feels possible.
This time, I’m not going to flinch.
Shayne McClendon is an author and positivity practitioner. Shayne believes love crosses all boundaries, social castes, races, genders, and belief systems. If you are lucky enough to find soul-deep love, you should fight for it. Life-certified, reader approved.