Say what you need to say is the ringtone on my mobile phone. Not only is it one of my favorite tunes, it is a constant reminder of how important it is to express rather than suppress my feelings. For so many years, I was afraid to speak up, even when I desperately wanted to.

When I began living in The Freedom Zone, I discovered that my tendency to hold back was the result of this belief: If I really said what was on my mind, people won’t like me. This belief or Imagined Truth is the self-critical voice in my head that I created when I was very young. It’s not uncommon for children to believe they are responsible for changes that occur in their lives. This phenomenon is called magical thinking. In my case, when I was moved temporarily to my grandmother’s home at a very early age, I felt it was somehow my fault. I must have been a “bad girl.” As a result, I felt I had to be the “good girl” which often meant, Don’t make waves Donna … ever! Even though I’m now aware that this belief is not true, that doesn’t mean it won’t rear its head from time to time—as it did recently.

I’ve been working with a group of friends on a project that has been inspiring, exciting and fulfilling. It required weekly participation and I had already missed a couple of sessions due to work commitments. I had promised to be there for the next session when I was faced with a dilemma. A friend I hadn’t seen in several months, who had been seriously ill, asked me to do something at the same time as the session with my friends. Immediately I could hear my inner voice speaking,

I have to be my word to the group, I said I would be there and I have to be there. If I don’t they will be disappointed and angry with me. But what about my friend—she rarely asks me for anything and I haven’t seen her since she was ill. If I cancel she won’t love me and will think I don’t care about her.
The conflict I felt and the debate in my head was rooted in fear—fear about how I would be viewed by the others involved in the situation. I had no Freedom. In the past, I would have made a decision and blamed it on the conflicting situation in an attempt to avoid any negative reaction that might be directed towards me.

In The Freedom Zone Inquiry, one of the tools provided that allows us to respond to life’s circumstances from an empowering rather than a limiting place is choice—a way of being or attitude we can bring to any challenging situation.
In this instance, I chose to bring personal responsibility to the situation. So, I called my friends and took responsibility for the fact that I wasn’t going to be my word. I was able to say what I needed to say without fear. The consequence was that I could no longer participate in the group which was something I had really wanted to do. As disappointing as this was, by taking responsibility for my decision, I transformed my old fears and beliefs in the moment and experienced Freedom.

Where in your life are you having a conflict or loss of Freedom? What choice could you bring to experience Freedom in the moment?