The Three Dimensions of Personal Freedom – written by Torsten Lueddecke
Introduction: Let us start with the obvious.
Not so obvious, but the first person to restrict your freedom is yourself. The way you define yourself, see yourself and characterize yourself is a massive restriction of your freedom as you don’t allow yourself to show up any other way. The second dimension of personal freedom, “freedom from social convention” seems obvious but is so all-dominant than we are to question the very foundations of what we think and what we do. Once we have dealt with ourselves and the society we were born into, we finally tackle spacetime. The way we move through time will ultimately decide whether we are free to make new and different choices along the way or whether we will simply remain in “repetition mode”
- Part One: Freedom from “Who we think we are”
- So… who are you?
We all seem to have a pretty good idea of the kind of person we are. If I would ask you to describe yourself you might come up with something like “bla bla bla bla… etc, etc“. And you would think, THIS is who you are.
This is not who you are, this is merely who you THINK you are. These are just some of the qualities and behaviours you display but not all the qualities you possess. It is merely the behaviours and ways of beings you have come up with in the last few decades to manoeuvre yourself through life, to find your own little niche in relation to the people around you. Some of these behaviours might actually be the opposite of who you are…
1.2 How your past determines your future
Any characteristic or behaviour you
display today is the result of your experiences and social conditioning of the
past. Had they been ANY different you would show up as a different person
today. In other words you have all possible abilities and qualities within you
but are displaying only those that you thought would somehow help you get
through the past. This way you have your past determine your future.
1.3 Permission to show up any way you want
So “freedom from who we think we are” gives total permission to show up in any other way any time of your liking. If you feel this is difficult, it is a good indicator that you are keeping yourself unfree in that dimension.
Take a person that would describe herself as quiet and soft spoken. Does she have the physical ability to speak out loud and raise her voice? Of course she does. Put her in a social situation and ask her to do just that. If she is free from who she thinks she is, she will have no problem doing just that. If she is not free, she will stop herself. And that is true for any other behaviour or ways of being.
1.4 Free to change
You will have realized that we are talking about change here already. Change means nothing else than showing up different today than you showed up yesterday. Resistance to change is often rooted in our insistence on who we think we are. Breaking free from this insistence opens up the possibility for effortlessly showing up differently.
Many times when we talk about change, we are actually talking about “growth“. We are not really changing, we are adding. Say if a quiet, soft spoken person adds the ability to raise the voice when she thinks it is useful, she is of course not losing the ability to be quiet and soft spoken in other situations. We are simply adding an additional behaviour to our (hopefully) ever growing repertoire of possible behaviours. Needless to say that the greater my repertoire the better I am equipped to master any situation to my fullest satisfaction.
By the way… our dissatisfaction with ourselves usually stems from all those times where we were unable to display a behaviour that we think would have been appropriate, because that behaviour was not part of our repertoire at that time or in those circumstances.
1.5 The fun of being free
The behaviours, patterns and characteristics we show on a daily basis is what we commonly call our “comfort zone“. We call it that way, because it is what we are used to, so we feel comfortable as we know exactly how it feels when we show up this way. It is also incredibly boring. Adding new behaviours, showing up differently and allowing ourselves to be different today than we were yesterday is the biggest fun on earth. You will feel being alive, powerful and growing every time you allow yourself not to be restricted by your past behaviours and characteristics. It is also a clear statement of not allowing your past to define your future. To be free from “who you think you are“ gives you access to the complete range of possible human behaviours and allows you to show up as the person you choose to at any moment in time.
2. Part Two: Freedom from Social Convention
2.1 Social Conventions are random
Understand that social conventions are randomly linked to a certain time and place. Move just 100 years in time, backwards or forwards and social conventions will be very different. Move 10,000 years in either direction and the randomness will be in your face. Or move a few thousand kilometres up north and social conventions will also be drastically different.
As we are born into a certain time and place the current social conventions might seem “normal” and “right“ to us. Needless to say that any other generation in any other time and/or any other place, thought and will think the same way about the social conventions of their time and place.
Social conventions are just a set of random ideas irrevocably linked to a certain time and place. In no way are they either “the truth“ nor are they in your best interest. On the contrary, many parts of social convention have been designed to act against your best interest and instead serve the interest of some group of rulers, opinion leaders or people with a specific interest (other than yours) in mind.
- Whose life are you living?
Have you ever wondered which ideas, values, wants and desires are really yours and which you have blindly adopted because they seem to be the norm of the society you live in? Adopting these ideas without thoroughly checking in whether they are true for you can quite frankly be the biggest mistake of your life. You might well be following goals that are not yours, be driven by motives that you don’t share, live according to norms and standards that are false and forming relationships that are not reflecting your true self. Basically the life you are living might well not be yours. You might simply be following other people’s ideas and concepts that happen to serve their best interest. And remember those ideas and concepts are not “universal“. It is nothing but a coincidence that you are living in a certain time at a certain place. Would you be living in any different time and place, you would blindly adopt any other ideas – no matter how stupid they might be.
- Living within a world of social conventions
Following your OWN ideas, values and goals might raise some eyebrows if your ideas do not match the current social conventions. You need to take this into account when making choices. Freedom from social convention does not necessarily mean breaking all conventions no matter the costs. Sometimes it might be wise to follow conventions if the price you would pay for breaking it is higher than what you would gain by not doing so. Freedom from social conventions really means that you are aware when you are following some funny ideas of society and when you are following your own and thus being able to make a conscious choice about it.
Interestingly enough our imagination tends to panic when we think about how people might react if we do not follow certain ideas that society tries to impose on us. Get ready for a big surprise! In many cases you will actually get overwhelming acknowledgement and respect as many people admire your courage and wish they did the same. Because on some level everybody gets that something is terribly wrong when our current social conditioning creates a world of terror, militant conflicts, destruction of the environment, broken relationships, loneliness, depression and people being more stressed out than ever.
Having said that, freedom from social convention is not about making stupid decisions that will hurt or threaten your wellbeing. We have to acknowledge the way people think and take that into consideration without blindly following all and every idea that society tries to impose on us.
- Separating social convention from who you are
If you have never done any work on this issue, chances are that most if not all of how you live your life is driven by social convention. That is our mind’s lazy way of getting directions: Looking at what everybody else around us is doing & thinking and then copy that. While this is not necessarily a bad strategy in certain situations it certainly is a bad strategy when it comes to how you want to live your life. Not only would it be bad to live a life according to somebody else’s ideas and goals – alas, those people are also just blindly following some random concepts that are based on our current patriarchal, religiously indoctrinated and consumption focussed model of society.
To separate what YOU want out of life, who YOU want to be and how YOU want to live your life might well be the most valuable exercise you ever do. And this is not done in one afternoon. From now on you might want to observe yourself, your actions and your judgements and start asking yourself the following chain of questions:
- How come I want or think that?
- Am I just buying into some ideas of society or is this really important to me?
- And if it is important, how come?
- Am I following some value of society or is this my very own value?
- If it is my value, how come I have this value?
- If I would be living in any other time and place, would I still hold this value?
And that is the moment to check-in
with your internal experience. If you feel totally one with that value, goal or
action it is probably who you are as a person. If not, feel free to let go and
replace it by whatever is true for you.
Part 3: Freedom from time
3.1 Time is just one of four dimensions…
We know from science that time does not exist independent from space. But there is no doubt that time is real – as one of the four dimensions of space-time.
And that is my starting point. None of the other three dimensions of space-time (the three spatial dimensions) seems to control us in a way time does. Few (if any) people are stressed by “length, width or height“, but time seems to have taken over our lives. How come?
- We stress about time because we falsely treat it as a resource!
We are falsely treating time as a resource, which it is not (it is a dimension). In our culture we treat time as something that “we have”. Language like, “I don’t have time” or “I only have one hour”, is a common way we communicate and think about time. Like any other resource that we see as limited this creates a perception of scarcity which in turn is the reason so many of us are stressed out about time.
- We structure time in a way that further enhances scarcity
This perception of scarcity is further enhanced by the way we have structured time, e.g. a day has (only) 24 hours and then the day is “over”, the week is over, the month is over, another year is over … While time is certainly real, how we structure time is man-made and random. Time as a dimension has no structure whatsoever. We are simply moving through time – in a straight line.
Why time flies…
Time as a dimension is linear. Yet we treat time as if it is moving in loops. Every 24 hours seem to repeat the same thing all over again. Just another day, getting up, doing my morning routine, driving to work, etc. … and then we are looping into seemingly the same thing 24 hours later. These 24 hour loops are smaller loops within a weekly loop (I hate Mondays, can’t wait for the weekend, oh no the weekend is over and then we start all over with yet another week) and an even bigger loop which we call a year. The problem with perceiving time as looping rather than a linear line where every moment is a completely new moment is that our conscious mind is primed to notice only what is new and important. Anything familiar will go unnoticed. That is why a whole day, week or year can go by and we have no idea where “all the time went”. We have not noticed it, because the conscious mind did not bother as it classified the information as a repetition rather than something new and therefore has not registered it in a lasting manner.
- The consequences of our misperception
To perceive time as looping may well be one of the most costly misperceptions in mankind’s history. And here is why.
- “Life is short”… or isn’t it?
Life is only “short”, because we tend to go through most of our life in a trance like state, distorting (shortening) time, with the conscious mind simply not being aware of what is happening neither inside of us nor around us. Imagine yourself gently dozing of while watching a movie, only to wake up right before the end, being surprised that it is already over. That is how many people feel when they come near the end of their lives. We pay for the misperception that time is happening in loops over and over and over again with basically missing out on experiencing each moment of our life, as our conscious mind shuts down and starts to sleep right through. A young kid will not agree to a statement that “the year has just flown by”, because to the mind of the kid everything was new and that is the way a kid is experiencing life. Only when we start to misperceive time as a repetition we start to doze off… We are basically sleeping through (and missing out on) life.
3.4.2 You cannot make choices while you sleep
Not only do we “sleep through” most of our life, we also rarely make conscious choices that shape our life into the desired direction. In fact we don’t even reflect and challenge the direction we are taking… With our mind living comfortably in the illusion that it is all more of the same, we tend to go through life on automatic, making the same familiar choices over and over and over again. Rarely do we interrupt, wake up to the fact that this is a completely new moment where we are free to make whatever choice we want – into the unfamiliar, the exciting, the new and different experiences. Instead we keep running whatever program of behaviour and choices we have installed in our early childhood, forever, like a wind-up toy that has been wound-up years ago and keeps moving into the same direction until it finally fizzles out of energy.
Remember this tragic pattern is due to your false perception of time. Just as you would stop, reflect and make a conscious decision when you are travelling and reach a crossroad that you have never been to before, you would also stop, reflect and make a conscious, new decision if you fully realized that every moment in time is an entirely new moment in life. As long as you continue to perceive time in loops you will treat each crossroad like the one you are passing daily on your way to work. Automatically and always taking the same turn. Until your life is over.
3.5 Three steps to “Freedom from time”
3.5.1 Be rigorous with your language
It is our language that creates the world we live in. Change your language from “Having time” (illusion) to “going through time” (truth) and notice the calming and slow-down effect it has on you. By being conscious about your language you will also create the necessary awareness to acknowledge that every moment is a new moment in time.
3.5.2 Understand that this is your first time – always
Understand that time is nothing but a linear dimension with each moment being a completely new point in life that you have never visited before. You cannot meet the same person a second time (we produce new cells at a rate of a stunning 5 Million per second so you will have changed while you read this line) nor can you visit the same place again (when you come back home after an hour of grocery shopping you will find your house a whopping 490,000 miles away from where you left it, given the speed we move through our galaxy)
No place is ever the same as the “last time” you were there. No activity, no person is ever the same. Everything is changing all the time. Everything is new. Go through life, knowing that this is your first time – always.
3.5.3 Dwelling in space-time
The way to learn to dwell in time is by dwelling in space. Scientifically speaking, time does not exist independent from space, so we can use this as our tool to dwell in space-time and thus slow down time.
Theory: By focussing your attention on the world around you, you become aware of the three spatial dimensions . At the same time check in with your internal experiences that change constantly and assign the current point in space-time to whatever your experiences may be.
Practise: We all know how to consciously be in space and enjoy the “moment”. Remember a time where you paused for a moment to look at a beautiful countryside? You were probably taking a deep breath, time would “stop” and you would simply enjoy the moment, completely absorbing the beauty and uniqueness of nature around you. Because it was new. And you were in awe of the wonders of the world. Whatever the activity you might be doing at any given moment, by keeping part of your awareness on your being and part of your awareness on the world around you, you can dwell in time no matter what you are doing. This dwelling in time leads to a massive slowdown in our subjective perception of time. Time no longer controls us, it has merely become an orientation on our journey through space-time.
Every moment becomes an invitation to visit a different and new point in space-time and make new and different choices.
Personal Freedom is about the ability to make choices.
- You don’t “have” time. You move through time. Stay awake by understanding that every moment in time is “a first”, a moment that you have never been to before.
- Know what values, goals and actions are originating in yourself and what you have merely adopted by the society you have been born into randomly.
- Get access to all qualities and abilities of human nature by becoming free from who you think you are