People who are free feel like they can act, speak, or think the way they want. But so many of us get stuck in a rut in our daily lives; incapable, unwilling, or unaware of how to break free of our self-limitations.
It’s time to get out of the rut. Let’s explore these 10 self-improvement tips on how to feel free and live the life you’ve always dreamed of for the first time.
10 Tips on How to Feel Free In Your Life
1. Let Go of Expectations
Expectations are the preconceived ideas you have of how things should be or will be. And having expectations automatically attaches you to outcomes, which can feel very disappointing and painful if they don’t come to pass. Expectations are based on assumptions we make.
What we fail to realize when we make assumptions is that we are not seeing the bigger picture. In actuality, we have no idea what things are working behind the scenes that we are unaware of. Therefore, letting go of assumptions and expectations will help you be more open to better possibilities and truly flow with what life throws at you.
And in this more neutral space, you will see the universe working to realize your desires in new ways you never thought possible. So how to let go of expectations? The first step is being aware of them. Learn to recognize and understand the emotions you feel when things aren’t going your way.
What beliefs and reasons do you have for wanting things to go the way you expected? Are these realistic expectations to have? Once you are aware of these expectations, you can work toward accepting them, while learning to be grateful for the way things are–regardless of the outcome.
2. Be True To Yourself
Not only can we be bogged down by our expectations, but we oftentimes live our lives worrying about the expectations of others. One small problem is, nobody knows what is best for your own life, but you! Everyone you meet has their own experiences, opinions, conditioning, and agendas.
This includes your family members and partners in committed relationships. The way they see your life is skewed by these things. And although it may be helpful to get some advice from your loved ones from time to time, you should never put someone’s opinion on a pedestal above your own.
Instead, learn to trust your true self. When we trust that we know what is best for ourselves, it serves as an anchor that keeps our boat steady in stormy seas. But if our boat is attached to someone else’s boat, the seas are bound to give us one heck of a ride.
You can develop self-trust by starting slowly with little experiments. What sorts of things have you always wanted to try but were too afraid of being judged, rejected, or abandoned by those you care about? Think of something small, and then do the thing!
You’ll be surprised how much the people who love you will support you.
3. Embrace Mistakes
Sometimes we are so afraid of making a mistake, we don’t do something we really want to do. Sometimes we are so afraid to try because if we fail, we make it mean something about us. And that self-judgment is pretty painful. Remember: it is a human quality to make mistakes.
Us humans say silly things that make ourselves cringe later. Or we invest in obvious get-rich-quick schemes (that obliterate our savings). Or we rush into a relationship that had all the obvious red flags. But this doesn’t mean we are stupid or not good enough.
When we are afraid of making mistakes, this can lead to a perfectionistic mindset. Perfectionists are often stressed, anxious, and depressed. It is common for them to experience burnout because nothing is ever good enough. And although perfectionists can be very motivated and engaged in what they do, this trait can hold them back from fully letting go.
Instead of beating yourself up for every mistake, learn to laugh at them. After all, dating a magician who automatically makes your money “disappear” is kind of funny right? Then leverage your mistake by using the information you’ve learned to do it better next time.
In this case, you learn to examine red flags sooner, and instead find a new boyfriend who will make your money reappear.
4. Allow Yourself To Fully Feel Negative Emotions
It is common to run from unpleasant feelings inside us. Some people numb these feelings with substances, work, or constant stimulation from social media or tv shows. Negative emotions oftentimes emanate from painful experiences, such as a breakup, or the death of someone close to you.
However, ignoring or numbing these emotions will only extend your suffering and can destroy your mental health. Embrace the hurt and sadness you’ve not let yourself feel. Once you give yourself permission to feel these feelings and fully go through the grief process you will feel freer.
Be sure that you have the support of your loved ones, support group, or online community to help you through it.
5. Let Go of Limiting Beliefs
It’s pretty easy to allow our past negative experiences shape what we believe about ourselves. And these beliefs and self-doubt can hold us back from achieving our full potential and realizing our dreams. For instance, if you were told by an art teacher in 4th grade that your collage was not inspired, you might have believed from then on that you just aren’t artistic.
This could keep you from picking up a paintbrush or making a sculpture, even if you have the desire to. But even if we are aware of our inner critic (whose favorite words seem to be “I’m not good enough”), it can be hard to silence this very loud voice in our head.
So we just give up, we don’t try, and we stay stagnant; never bothering to take that painting class we always wanted to take. The best way to beat this inner critic is to start thinking about times you have been “good enough”, “smart enough”, or “talented enough”.
In what ways have you been artistic in your life? Maybe you made a doodle that looked exactly like Bruce Willis, or you painted your walls to look like something out of a Better Homes and Gardens magazine. When you have more examples on your mind in which you have been good enough, it will tip the scales to where you automatically feel good enough to do the thing.
Make it a habit. Every day, keep repeating to yourself “I am good enough because..” until your beliefs change and you start to pick up that paintbrush little by little.
6. Learn to Forgive Yourself and Others
The main reason we get angry at others and ourselves is because we are holding onto “shoulds”. As in, “he should have done this” or “I should have done that”. And we keep reminding ourselves of the mistake, sometimes getting angrier over time and building resentments.
The solution? Stop shoulding yourself.
The antidote to anger and resentment is compassion and empathy. Instead of saying “he should have”, ask yourself “Why should he have done this?”. Then look through his perspective and come up with reasons that benefitted him in that situation.
And in terms of self-forgiveness, instead of saying “I should have”, ask yourself “Why should I have done that?” Then remember your reasoning for doing what you did at the time. You did what you thought was the right choice at the time. Now you know better and can move on.
7. Accept What You Can’t Control
Worry zaps your freedom. The best way to let go of worries is to first identify if it is something you can control or not.
- Things in your control: Your thoughts/actions, how you speak to yourself, how you spend your free time, what you give your energy to, the goals you set, how you handle challenges, your boundaries
- Things you can’t control: The actions of others, the opinion of others, the outcome of your efforts, the future, the past, what people think of you, how others take care of themselves, what happens around you
If it is something you can control, you can use your worry energy to find a solution and do something about it (instead of worrying). If it is something not in your control, there is no use worrying about it! The faster you accept that things will happen the way they will, the freer you will be from its outcome.
Phew, that frees up a lot of that energy you used on worry! Now you can use that energy for something more productive that makes you feel good instead.
8. Be Fully Aware of Your Boundaries
If you’re often spending time doing things you don’t want to do, this could be a sign that you have poor boundaries. Do you know where your desires and needs stop and where others’ desires and needs begin? Finding this out is the first step to finding your boundaries.
Get to know your boundaries by looking at all the areas of your life. Where are you saying yes when you want to say no? For example, do you find yourself being dragged out on a late night with your friends when you know you have to work in the morning? Perhaps you’d rather spend a quiet evening at home listening to a podcast.
Once you notice where you are abandoning your boundaries, slowly start to advocate for the right decisions for you. Put yourself first next time and say no if you want to say no. You’ll feel more and more empowered as this becomes a daily habit. Eventually, you’ll learn to trust that you are on your side, and you’ll develop higher self-esteem as a bonus.
9. Do What Scares You
If you are one to shy away from things that get your heart pumping, it may be time to develop a sense of self-efficacy. What is self-efficacy? Self-efficacy means how confident you are in yourself to carry out a certain task or achieve a goal. The best way to start believing in yourself?
Through slowly exposing yourself to things that scare you. Think about something small that scares you. Do you get nervous making phone calls? Try thinking about what the worst outcome of a phone call could be. Then think about how you would deal with it if it were to happen.
Planning for the worst outcome will leave you feeling more self-assured that you can deal with any situation that might arise. The fear will still be there, but it will be much more manageable. Over time, these small, courageous acts will allow you to gain more control over your life and insecurities.
Perhaps you will soon find yourself courageous enough to speak in front of a crowd of people! Or perhaps you will start your own company you’ve been dreaming of for years.
Disclaimer: Do what scares you, as long as it isn’t dangerous to yourself or others.
10. Just Breathe
Re-connect with your breath. We often lose touch with this very important aspect of our physiology. As a result, we can get stuck in shallow, chest breathing and can easily get lost in our daily lives with the million thoughts that run through our heads.
Know how to take deep breaths expanding from the belly. When we learn to breathe fully and freely, especially in times of stress, we will be better able to pass through the normal hangups that keep us stuck. We then find the space in ourselves for more expansiveness and freedom in everyday situations.
Achieving True Freedom
True freedom means letting go of expectations and limiting beliefs, being true to yourself, embracing mistakes and negative emotions, forgiving yourself and others, accepting what you can’t control, being aware of your boundaries, facing your fears, and staying connected with your breath.
Here’s to a freer life that allows you to become your best self and conquer your dreams…