Freedom And Commitment Go Hand In Hand

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I used to believe that turning away from commitment provides freedom. Because, if you don’t commit you’re free like a bird, right? But there’s something I was missing. Birds commit. Birds build nests, birds take on huge migrations annually, birds collect food daily, ect. Birds are free, not despite, but because they commit.

Contents:
First things first
Stop multitasking
Eliminate options
Focus on the important stuff instead of the urgent shit
Don’t be afraid to suck
It’s a love story
Some last words on what I believe freedom means

It’s my biggest takeaway from 2020commitment and freedom go hand in hand. It was an eye opening idea which I loved digging into and wrapping my head around. It’s the paradox of the previous years of travelling. I used to look at commitment and freedom as the opposite side of the spectrum. The idea of freedom and commitment to be on the other side of the same coin felt so foreign, paradoxical and illogic. What seems so obvious for one, can be so profound for the other. 

So, how does it work? 

Let’s start off with some examples: the commitment of consistently hitting the gym gives you the freedom to have a healthy and strong body and feel energised, the commitment of a relationship gives you the freedom the know someone to the core and have a deep, meaningful relationship, the commitment of meditation gives you the freedom to be more peaceful and live more in the present moment, the commitment of practising an instrument or other creative outlet gives you the freedom to connect with your creativity, the commitment to learning a language gives you the freedom to express yourself, the commitment build a business gives you the freedom to financial stability or — I can hear you think —financial freedom. Need more of those? 

Commitment is the stuff character is made out of, yes, but, I am not an advocate for showing commitment to things when being fixated merely on the outcome. Why not? Because, again, paradoxically, this is how you lose your freedom. If you commit to something only for the sake of the outcome, while not falling in love with the process you’re giving away the precious thing we all exist out of — life force, or in other words, your energy. And what’s the stuff that freedom provides? That’s right! Life force. Energy. No energy, no life. That’s pretty graspable, right?

The commitment you show needs to be in alignment with you as an individual and this is where people miss the delicious, ripe avocado. I didn’t know any suitable expression so I made that one up. But it means; when picking an avocado without gently squeezing it first you’ll be more likely to miss the buttery, tasty, ripe avo’s. Still don’t get it? Okay. A lot of people choose something without experimenting, without trial and error and without exploring their interests and following the thing they are most gravitated towards. Why? Because they’re chasing a goal that’s not theirs. They’re chasing a goal for their peers, for status and for the approval of society. Picking avo’s without gently squeezing it first is a recipe for … Well, that’s another topic for later. 

Anyways, let’s get back to the commitment thing. 

Here’s one more paradox for ya’: choosing to move away from a commitment can be a massive commitment, too. Because what if you realise you’re chasing something, doing something or find yourself in a situation that doesn’t serve you? Then you’re going to have to commit to changing your situation. But beware! When ‘running away’ doesn’t challenge you anymore it might become a pattern — a comfort zone — and maybe isn’t a commitment anymore, but rather a loop that’s keeping you trapped (and not free). I have to confess my guilt. What’d be a commitment for one, might great comfort for the other. The truth is that commitment often feels uncomfortable, but almost always leaves you feeling good in the end — think of hitting the gym. Because if progress equals happiness, commitment equals progress. Okay, that was a little cheesy. 

Time to get practical.

With an ever growing pace of life and an ever growing access to information and distraction commitment is becoming more and more difficult. 

So, how do you practise commitment?

First things first

Struggling to take the leap?
Commitment doesn’t have to be a huge, crazy move. In fact, it usually starts small. Switching career starts by making a plan, a romantic relationship starts by asking someone out (or turning off your phone), moving overseas often starts by going on a little trip, writing a book starts by writing some keywords down. Try to avoid getting lost in the details. It’s good to zoom out sometimes to remember where it is that you’re going when you lose sight of the bigger picture. But beware of the narratives! Catch narratives like the what if’s… or but, first I need… or I don’t know how to… and fukkin’ stamp them out before they grow into a monster! Take it step by step.

Stop multitasking

Wanna get the ball rolling?
Turn off your phone, turn off the tv, put away all the shit you don’t need. Multitasking is a burden. It might sounds cool, but it’s a sucker for your energy. There’s no such thing as multitasking. Try thinking of 2 things at the same time and send me a message if you succeeded and I’ll give you a virtual high five! The illusion of multitasking actually is switching focus between different tasks. That’s it. Woman generally are better at it? It’s actually true. Simply put: from an evolutionary point woman have been evolved to switch between different tasks and the community to keep things together. Which is a beautiful gift by the way!

Eliminate options

You have too many options?
This is a challenging one in the modern world. We have (more than) plenty of options, and we’re often trying to keep them all open. We calculate our possibilities and alternatives and weigh them all up against each other. This is where the old saying comes into play. Was it something about green grass? Right. It’s always greener on the other side, but why? The wise monks already knew millennials ago; where focus goes, energy flows. It’s a matter of directing your attention and it sounds simpler than it is.

Most of the time this goes for creative people and people who always see opportunities. Spotting opportunities can be a great skill, but also a burden at the same time. The struggle to commit to one thing? I have to confess my guilt again.

Eliminating options will help you to commit and focus. Or you just learn how to be a better focus-er, which takes practise. The wise ‘ol monks tackled a practise for this long ago — meditation. which is beneficial for countless aspects of our wellbeing. I’m a huge fan. But, if it could teach us only one thing, then let it be the ability direct our focus and let to let go ( like all the other 100 options). But if this isn’t your cup of tea, you still have the power to simply reject the alternatives.

Focus on the important stuff instead of the urgent shit

You don’t know what to do?
So, let’s break this down. What are some unimportant urgent things? Some phone calls, some Emails, some meetings, some ‘friends’ or relationships, interruptions, popular activities, etc. And, what are some examples of important things? Relationship building, exploring your interests, movement/exercise, planning, etc. Usually the important things are investments of your time, money or energy into things that make you feel good; your health/wellbeing, your relationships, hobbies/things that make your spirit happy,  financial health and last but not least: the way you contribute — your purpose.

What is the biggest challenge? To manage yourself instead of managing your time. Because it’s so easy to get lost in trying to manage all the things that aren’t actually important. They take a lot of time in exchange for loads of stress.

Try to focus on the long haul; is what you’re doing sustainable? The most urgent things usually aren’t sustainable, because they’re draining. The most important things usually are sustainable instead, I mean, apart from some financial security, think about getting older without hobbies, without a social life or a body which doesn’t function.
It’s a marathon, not a spint.

Ask yourself from time to time: is this worth my commitment?

Don’t be afraid to suck

Don’t be afraid to fail. Often we let our ego stand in the way, because we’re afraid to suck at something new. We like to believe that we’re good at something right from the start, especially when we have an inclination or interest in it. Truth is, we usually suck at new things. What happens next? We’re disappointed and don’t like it. Often we don’t really love something right from the beginning until… we invest.

I’ll use surfing as a little metaphor and example which, to me, is a massive teacher. Everyone who surfs I’m sure can relate. We’ve all really disliked it from time to time. It’s our interest and brief moments of extreme joy that make it worthy to get washed, wiped out, have your board smashed onto your head and the burning pain in your shoulders from endless peddling. Exactly, for one wave.. But after enough practise your interest and inclination will start to grow. Whoa! What will it become!? A passion *dramatic voice*! The moment you start to become good enough to express the things you’ve visualised that’s when the real joy begins. And life will never be the same *even more dramatic voice*!

It’s a love story…

It’s a love story!

Committing to something isn’t all about fairytale-like stories and living in a state of constant arousal and joy. There’s going to be times when it sucks, when it’s boring and when it’s painful. But just like a real love story; the thing you love is worth struggling for — because it satisfies you, fulfils you and adds meaning to your life. And if it doesn’t you’ll probably want to ask yourself; is this really worth it to chase and to struggle for?

But, I just, like, you know, really don’t know what I want…”

These might help:
Does it capture your attention?
Do you talk about it, read about it and (unconsciously) seek more of it?
Did you talk about it as a child?
Does the idea of you doing more of it in the future excite you?
Does it make you radiate?

Based upon your answer you’ll probably know what to do next. 

Some last words on what I believe freedom means

Freedom is a high frequency in the brain and body. It’s a positive emotion, a feeling. It’s a perception and your experience. When you understand that, you’ll understand that the place to look for freedom is within. I believe that what freedom means at the end of the day is your state of mind – you’re only as free as your mind is. If your focus is within you’ll realise that freedom is your attitude, mindset and perception of the world. The well-known psychiatrist, neurologist, author and holocaust survivor Victor Frankl puts it like this: 

"Our greatest freedom is the freedom to choose our own attitude"

He explains that the freedom of choosing one’s attitude is something that can’t be taken away, not in any given set of circumstances. 

My philosophy is to not let status and ego or the approval of society and your peers stand in the way of your joy, your dreams and your interests. Experiment. Play. Fail. Explore. Learn and grow. Find out what it is that keeps you sane and you’ll be free like a bird.

Happy days. Thanks for your commitment! 
Love.

Photo credit
Florian Maderebner

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What I share and write about only goes as far as I’ve expended my own mind, body and soul. You need to think about what is right and holds true for ya’self. I’m merely sharing what I’m seeing and experiencing through the lens of my eyes, shaped by my lessons, studies and experiences, along with the research and studies of professionals in the particular field. I’m here to share but have no means of taking others’ credit or claiming to provide you with ‘the truth’. 

Oh, and there will be some grammatical slips here and there. So here’s my apologies in advantage (that was a joke), but as long as I’m getting the point across I’m pretty stoked. 

I’m always open and interested to hear your perspective, even — or especially — if my content is not in alignment with yours. But more importantly, I’m here to reach out a hand — you can find me here, or you can visit the FAQ Page

*This article is written for educational and informational purposes only and not for medical advice. Always check in with your doctor for medical advice. You know the deal. And don’t forget to do your own research ;). 

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Renzo Kaashoek
About Renzo

We’re hiding behind fancy websites and a bunch of words and filters. I’d love to introduce myself with some stories to make the chaos on your screen a little more personal. Feel free to reach out and ask or say what you’ve got going on. See ya’ in the mailbox, on the road or, in da barrel.. 

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