Everyone wants freedom. Sometimes, though, it seems those most in pursuit of freedom are most in chains.
There are really two kinds of freedom: freedom from and freedom to.
For most of us the freedom we seek most frequently is freedom from. We want to be free from things that limit us, make us feel bad, or diminish us in any way. There is nothing wrong with seeking freedom from bad things, but unchecked and unexamined, our efforts to “feel better” are the genesis for many of the worst decisions in life we make.
Many things that “feel better” in the short run, bring misery in the long run. Many short term solutions are really not much of a solution anyway. They are more bandaids than anything and offer little solace against the wounds in our life.
We really “know better”, but have what almost seems an inborn genius, in convincing ourselves to do things that latter leave us shaking our heads and wondering how we could be so “dumb.” Things that “feel good”, and freedom from almost always feels good, seem to possess an inner validity that seduces us and pulls us further into pursuit.
One of the major problems with feeling better is that it is not always the same as doing better. Problems may seem solved, but in the end, solutions are never really found and soon we find ourselves back to an unpleasent reality. And again we need to feel better. And again the cycle starts. Seeking freedom from is the genesis behind many substance abuse problems and many of the other self defeating behaviors we find ourselves in and it is the illusion that freedom from something really makes us free that keeps us committed to life choices that in the end spell disaster for us.
Freedom from is based on escaping limitations. Freedom to is based on the acceptance of limitations. It is based on a discipline that enables us to go further than we could go on our own. The freedom to run a marathon is based on the discipline of training to do so. The freedom to make good decisions is based on the discipline of training to think before you act, and making sure your perceptions are based on fact and not fancy. The freedom to do many of the things we want to do in life is based on some form of practice or training that makes it possible for us to do them. Trying hard is important, but by itself is not sufficient for us to make many of the changes we want to make.
If you are trying to deal with mental health issues very often you find things not getting much better when the overriding issue in life is simply to feel better and get past the misery. There is nothing wrong with wanting to get past the misery, but if you let your goals become your strategy you are left with short term fixes that bring little or no long term gain.
Recovery or thriving, despite the issues you deal with, is based more on becoming able to do things that because of your issues you have been unable to do. It is based on becoming “free to” and not simply becoming “free from.” Recovery is more than solving problems. It is developing solutions and the two are not always the same.
Seek your freedom. In the end all of us do. But beware of the freedom that binds us ever more tightly to the misery we want so bad to leave. I hope you become free to live the life you so badly want. It is certainly what you deserve.