When we think about freedom, we usually define it as the absence of restriction—beyond the reach of oppression, judgment, inhibition, or pain. But we may more properly view freedom as a positive enactment—a moving toward life and a search to connect out of free will. In fact, the freedom to do and to feel—to love, to experience, to fulfill our potential—is true freedom.
Typically, the call for freedom in a relationship confuses it with autonomy, with having “my space.” Yet healthy relationship requires mutual autonomy, allowing respective voices to be heard and authentic selves to grow without either trying to manipulate the other or impose a given outcome. So an agitated demand for relational freedom might actually screen a desire to escape frightening confrontation. It may be a coping mechanism learned in childhood—often through time-outs, the forced isolation of children to resolve their issues alone which, of course, they cannot possibly do. When such neglectful emotional exile is the default parenting style, the child may develop a compulsive need for freedom from people, leading to love avoidance in relationships. And this enslavement to deadening, detrimental withdrawal patterns out of fear of intimacy is the very antithesis of freedom.
Conversely, we attain the freedom to relate with unconditional love by acknowledging and addressing personal issues, and by building our relationships on trust and trustworthiness. Valuing ourselves and others empowers us with the freedom to care deeply without fear of rejection and disappointment. And the freedom to forgive—perhaps the hardest freedom to capture—consecrates our own impure impulses, permitting the light of awareness to illuminate them and to let us work them out. In these ways, freedom to feel and to act frees us from our habitual self, and frees us to become our best self.
Daily Healthy Sex Acts
· What does healthy freedom feel like to you? Do you bring this feeling to your relationships, work, and alone time? Or do you wear the chains of personal circumstance and obligation? Today, cast off those chains and invite the triumphant feeling of true freedom into all your interactions and activities.
· Reflect on any desire to escape from life, people, or situations. Now, flip the script and find the freedom to move toward them. What would have to happen for you to feel free to express yourself fully while perceiving reality through the lens of unconditional love?