“Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another.”
―Toni Morrison, Beloved
I love this quote. And it makes me wonder – why is it that it always seems to feel safer to spend time in angry complaint about a situation than to choose to do something about it and be left with the much harder work of taking real ownership, of facing ourselves and all the dirty work of that which is our particular constellation of burdens to bear? Maybe as long as we stay mired down in a situation doing nothing but the busywork of putting out various ‘fires’, we at least feel reassured to have the appearance of one who is taking responsibility. But real responsibility requires more than resigning ourselves to a life of indentured servitude to situations that clearly come at the expense of our peace, vitality and well being.
Claiming freedom from situations that may have grown toxic over time (or were toxic to begin with) is never simple, pleasant or easy. No one may clap when you have made and executed on the decision you know in your bones you needed to make. The reward is intrinsic in nature; it’s called self-respect. It’s also called being true to yourself which involves following through on the ancient dictum to know thyself.
Freedom is a scary, gritty thing to actually take possession of which is probably why so few people opt in, but in my experience if you can keep your head on and your heart together (merely observing your thoughts and feeling what it is you actually feel without judgment), then some magical potential for growth is invoked that is good for everyone.
Dealing with any given situation as it is, doing what we can to act as a force for kindness and the common good within that context is all that any of us can do.
The more we know about ourselves, the more we will understand others and be able to act in ways that foster the peace, vitality and well being we all crave.