Today, the Philippines is celebrating its 116th independence from Spanish regime. In the spirit of this occasion, I thought to ponder about two things.
Frequently used interchangeably, at first glance these words are thought to be one and the same. Looking deeper though, one can define the differences, and while they are alike in some ways, they are so much different.
Google defines independence as
freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others
and freedom as
the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.
Working overseas and taking care of myself, making sure I have lunch to bring with me to work, my clothes are washed and ironed and my allowance carries me through the next payday, that I think is an example of independence. Not having my parents and house help to take care of my needs.
Freedom is having the power to choose how and where to spend my off-days from work, whether it be home or discover a new place. It is the power to choose who I make friends with. It is the power to decide for myself.
A deeper interpretation of their meanings, I must say that freedom is much deeper than independence. That being said, I’d say I’d rather be free than independent, though I wonder if one can be mutually exclusive.
While it is common to identify an external hindrance or constraint, most of the time we bind ourselves to our own shackles, not becoming aware of the condition we subject our inner self to.
What chains impact us the most? For me they are…
1. Shadows of the past. My uncle would always tell me that our reactions are largely influenced by past experiences, like Ivan Pavlov’s theory of Classical Conditioning where a conditioned response is exhibited even when the stimulus is exhibited alone. We get defensive when we see signs of a past experience repeating itself. We auto-pilot our response. We inhibit ourselves for fear of being hurt again, humiliated again, abused again.
We display a cold front and defensive stance to a “suspected enemy”, terminating prematurely a possible pleasant outcome, completely different from a past experience.
2. Fear of the unknown. We like to imagine and prepare for what lies ahead, we refuse to be caught off-guard that for a scenario we already have plans a, b, c, d,….z and sub-plans a-1, a-2, b-1, b-2,…. z-2. While this is a beneficial tool to have us ready in any event, sometimes we get too focused on the fear that we become immobilized.
You wanted to start a business. You made a research and learned about the pros and cons of putting up one. You focus on the negative, on the difficulty, on the potential losses, that it then defeats you to inaction.
- Insecurity barrier. We think that our ideas will not be good enough that we don’t even share them out loud. We think that our talents are inferior than others that we don’t develop them anyway. We think that our efforts will be futile and would go unappreciated by our supervisor, that we only give a mediocre performance of our job.
We chain our own talents, abilities and enthusiasm in exchange for not having to be compared with somebody else and losing to them. We forego developing ourselves for fear we won’t measure up.
- Handcuff of pride. Thinking of ourselves highly, errrr higher than someone, constrains us to act a certain way. We build a Superman front, a façade to intimidate, to feel superior and be treated as such and to satisfy that big ego.
We act on that (our) standard of false superiority. By doing so, we limit ourselves to act a certain way and be such. There is no freedom in pretension.
To be free and independent is TO BE. While still mindful of certain limitations, it is possible.
Be the you, uniquely created in the Creator’s image. Be open to and welcoming of new ideas. Rather than limiting your growing space, endeavor to widen your horizon. Never let the past hurt you anymore. Be free from it. You have learned the lesson, and that’s what ugly experiences should be taken for – a learning experience, nothing more, nothing less. Do not give yourself any more unnecessary and sometimes imaginary and self-inflicted burden than you already have.
Be like the air – dynamic and unbound.