Note: This is a piece I originally wrote after a Free Forum held at Phoenix Process Consultants where I am an Advanced Adler, Wellness and Board member. It originally appeared on their website and I thought I would repost it here.
Participants of Phoenix Process Consultant’s Wellness Program (and their guests) gather roughly five times per year to do further learning and dialogue about wellness topics. Living Free was the theme of our recent forum. Our discussion honored the history of freedom in our country as well as our personal freedom.
Bob Bartlett, counselor and one of the forum leaders, opened with a round robin question; what does 4th of July mean to you? Time with family, outdoor celebrations and stories of past events were the primary themes. The day evokes deep love and gratitude for what we have and maybe even a fear of losing it, given the current state of government chaos. For others not born and raised in these traditions, it’s a day of wondering – who am I and how do I share my appreciation for freedom while honoring a very different past? Freedom, regardless of background, is precious.
This cherished freedom comes not without sacrifice. Bartlett shared a piece written by radio broadcaster Paul Harvey on July 4, 1974, entitled They Paid the Price and we took turns reading it aloud. Harvey describes how so many of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence ended up sacrificing property and family for the freedom we enjoy. A majority had little knowledge of the price these men paid in years of hardship.
As the group shared thoughts on the article, John Reardon, counselor and founder of Phoenix Process, shifted the discussion to movement; are we free from or free for something? The freedom from something is a bit of an adolescent approach but the freedom for something allows actions based on values. How often are we trying to be free from versus free to?
Reardon reminded us that we know our birth experience is full of fear and threat to survival. Our primary freedom is to choose to act and we do so in those first instances of life. We express ourselves by crying. Our desire to move to a better state for ourselves is the action of our spirit to overcome as Alfred Adler describes. And our overcoming is a social act – we are socially embedded.
In our “culture of consumption,” we get many messages, especially in marketing, that we are not good enough. We are led to believe we need more of this, that or the other. Our fear of not being good enough is turned on its head when we remember and engage our spirituality. We are each created with our own value, worth, and dignity and no other human can take that away.
Freedom is when we discover the truth through an active dialogue of questions and responses. Living free means I’ve found a refined truth through our social dialogue.
“When do I feel free to express myself with others?” was the closing question of the evening. Participants used terms like curiosity, willingness to connect, to be open, to trust. All of those are intimately shared in this forum. All were encouraged to seek and act on their truth and live freely.
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