Ever wished you had a bit more freedom in your life? The first step is to stop worrying about these things…
It’s hard enough to live the best, most liberated version of yourself with the twin pressures of your work and social life to deal with.
Factor in your nagging inner-voice, and it’s no wonder many of us don’t feel very free at all.
Happily, breaking away from a few familiar thought patterns can go a long way towards making you feel a lot less inhibited in your day to day.
We spoke to psychotherapist Audrey Stephenson to find out what we shouldn’t waste so much time fretting over.
1. Feeling unprepared
Probably the biggest single barricade to your sense of freedom is the idea that you’re not ready to do whatever it is you want to do – otherwise known as imposter syndrome.
“It’s very human to feel unready,” says Audrey. “To feel as if you need to know more, or have more experience, before you take on new challenges.
“Whether it’s something small such as going out on a date, or something bigger like taking on a major work project, challenges are scary. The unknown is scary.
“Feeling fear doesn’t necessarily mean you should stop; it just means you’re in touch with possible loss. But what’s the loss you’re in touch with?
If it’s just a case of losing face, you may want to plunge right in.”
2. What you ‘should’ do
You know what you want to do. You know what feels right. But is it what you think you should do?
“Whether it’s going to a social engagement you really don’t fancy, or agreeing to help out a friend when you know your calendar is full and you’re feeling overwhelmed, saying yes to things can become a bad habit,” says Audrey.
“It’s important to realise there’s a difference between being utterly selfish and prioritising yourself.
“When we’re in touch with who we are and our priorities, we can start saying yes to things we can fully give ourselves to.”
So, feel free to say no and you can be better when you say yes.
3. Other people’s opinions
Sure, you could go out on a limb and start saying, doing or eating whatever you want but… what will other people think about it?
According to Audrey, probably not much. In fact, chances are they’re not even thinking about you at all.
“Most of us are trapped by the weight of what we imagine others are thinking about us, but unless you’re a politician or an elected official, what people think of you isn’t really your business.
“Not only that – most people are absolutely focused on their own insecurities, so whether it’s obvious or not, it’s probably not about you.”
4. How you measure up
If there’s one thing we know, there’s no good mood that can’t be soured by a quick scroll through somebody else’s Insta feed.
No matter how well you think you’re doing, it always looks like other people are doing better. But according to Audrey, that’s deeply flawed logic.
“When it comes to building a liberated life, it’s important to recognise that fulfilment, joy and happiness are 100% about you.
It doesn’t matter what other people are after, or how they’re displaying their ‘fulfilment’.
If you find yourself endlessly comparing yourself to people on social media, stop, hold yourself accountable, then refocus on your own wants and desires.”
Ah, yes – the big one. Are any of us truly free from fear of failure? Probably not, but you can definitely work on it.
“Avoidance of failure means you’re less likely to grow,” says Audrey. “You’re less likely to experience the unexpected, which often proves to be joyful and thrilling.
“Trying what is new also leaves you feeling more confident for the next time. No toddler ever thinks he or she isn’t going to walk.”
Time, then, to tap into your inner-toddler. Once you overcome a fear of failure, the world is pretty much your oyster.
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