Our greatest human power
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Viktor E. Franki defined the greatest human power as the freedom to choose a response. We often forget what freedom really means and how we define it. So, how would you define freedom in today’s society?
The feeling of freedom comes in many different forms and shapes, and is different for every one of us. In a society where success is often thought to be determined by wealth, status and power, where expectations and the pressure to compete for the best and for being the best is continuously increasing, the feeling of freedom can be severely compromised. Some would define freedom as having the financial means to take care of oneself and his/her family, buy whatever you want, own a business or travel the world. Others would define it as not allowing anxiety to take control of your life, taking ownership of your life, looking for new challenges or just act in accordance with your personal values.
Both are valid and somehow reflect an individual’s priorities. But what if I told you there is another way to look at it?
Feeling free is a mindset
Society creates a certain standard of expectations for all of us, such as being surrounded by a big group of friends, getting married, having a successful career, earning good money, starting a family,… It’s having these expectations that often lead to dissatisfaction and disappointment. And exactly these expectations threaten our feeling of freedom and can make us even feel paralyzed at times.
We have to make so many choices throughout our life, but how do we know what is the ‘right choice’? Does something like the ‘right choice’ even exist? And what if we choose wrong, or worse: what if we end up in a shitty situation that we didn’t even choose? The truth is, bad things happen to all of us and we all have to make tough choices, but the way we cope with it makes a true difference for our quality of life. We are all responsible for choosing how to respond to setbacks in life. So, if we consider choosing a response towards a certain situation as our most powerful human freedom, doesn’t it mean that we are all able to feel truly free? Feeling free is a mindset. The bad news? It’s a tough one to acquire.
Awareness as the key to freedom
I believe some important aspects of freedom are awareness, acceptance and accountability. Being accountable is the ability to claim actions or decisions as your own and discuss your reasons behind them. It’s important to be aware of how we respond towards certain situations and how it made us feel. Did that response make you happy or sad? Would you do it differently next time? Even if you decide to deal with the situation differently next time, it’s important to accept and claim ownership of the response you chose.
Sometimes, when we get “shit” thrown into our face when we are not expecting it, whether it’s losing a job, having health issues or losing a loved one, we need to remind ourselves that we all go through these experiences in which it is tempting to end up in a negative spiral where we lose faith in ourselves and/or in life. And you know what, it’s totally fine to feel that way! As long as you are aware of it and choose at some point to get out of that negative spiral, and consider whatever happens to you as an opportunity to grow.
It’s okay to have moments of doubt, where you feel confused about who you are, where you are going with your life and what’s the point of it all. Unfortunately, I don’t have the answers myself! What I do know is that during these moments, where we are flooded with self-doubt, self-awareness and self-reflection, we are re-evaluating our persona. It’s a shame that we (myself included) aren’t always able to cherish these moments a bit more, as they are so essential for our personal growth. And remember, you are in charge of choosing your response, it’s your biggest freedom!
Difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations
Every difficult phase in life is accompanied by a tipping point, a paradigm shift in how we look at ourselves and the world, together with the people in it. Certain situations in life can make you feel as if you are drowning, as if you barely seem to cope. But regardless of what happens around us, we always have the power to choose how we deal with the situation from within. Life is not about making easy choices, but about making choices that feel right to you. Are you in a relationship that makes you unhappy or in a job you hate? Choose to respond to it and don’t stay in that comfort zone because it’s easy. I do believe that difficult roads lead to the most beautiful destinations. We just have to be brave and patient enough…
Last modified: January 28, 2019