Do your problems define you? Do you find that regardless of the amount of willpower you exert, you can’t shake them? Or, are you so “stuck” that you’ve stopped trying to get rid of your problems and have given up? Have your problems caused you to lose respect for yourself? There is a four-part path to freedom from your problem or problems.
First: Get Out of the Immediate Line of Fire
As long as you remain in a problematic situation, in range of a force that is hurting you, you cannot begin the journey toward freedom. The first step away from the immediate cause of your suffering is only a first step, but it is critical: You must move away from the danger zone and destructive forces. Only by “stopping the bleeding” can healing begin.
This step is often the hardest of them all, because after protracted years of pain you can become resigned and even accustomed to the problem, to the point that it becomes so much part of your life and your being that it is hard to recognize the “enemy,” or even acknowledge that there is an “enemy” (otherwise known as denial).
Second: Break the Psychological Hold
After you are no longer in the actual destructive situation, you must be delivered from the hold of the oppressive force. Even after you’ve distanced yourself from the problem, it may still have a psychological hold on you — after all, it became an ingrained habit of thought, speech, and action. A mental and emotional breakthrough will be necessary, as will be ongoing vigilance against letting the problem back into your life.
Third: Establish Security
Finally you get out of “prison,” but the problem (or a similar one) is still lurking. At this stage you need to create boundaries that will protect you from further involvement with it. Are you good at setting boundaries? What has stopped you from protecting yourself from this problem in the past? Now is the time to learn how to establish boundaries.
You’ll also want to find the support of other people who have overcome a similar problem, or who have never had the problem at all. Spending time with “safe” and inspiring people who bolster your sense of self is crucial to establishing your own security from your problem so that you can truly leave it behind.
Fourth: Discover Who You Are Outside of Your Problems
The first three phases were all about distancing yourself from your problem. But you still are not free until you discover who you are. Freedom is not merely the absence of slavery – getting away from the past and escaping the negative. True freedom is a state of being on its own – the ability to be true to yourself, your true self, and live up to your inner calling and spiritual destiny. You want to build your life in a way that stands for something great (not against something), and a life that will never again allow you to be enslaved, exploited, or constricted in the first place.
Exercise: Consider a problem that dogs you, and envision carrying out the four-step path to freedom from it described above. Write about it in your MyMLC journal.
Go deeper into this subject: Four Steps to Freedom | How to Feel Secure in a Climate of Fear | Four Things to Do When Therapy Isn’t Working | You Can Suffer Without Becoming a Sufferer | How to Relieve Your Emotional Pain | Are You Battle Weary? Transcending Life’s Struggles | Sweetening Severities: How to Deal with Difficulty |