To find freedom, you have to know what you want just as much as what you don’t want. To claim who you really are, you have to experience who you aren’t. In this article, I share my four step process to find true freedom, so you can always live on purpose!
There isn’t a human on the planet who doesn’t go through their own experience of struggle that seeds their growth and transcendence of their particular perceived limitations. This is the nature of duality. To claim who we really are and find true freedom, we need to know who we are not.
Are pain, fear, and suffering the only methods to grow and transcend? Of course not! We grow just as powerfully through love and joy. But let’s not kid ourselves that we can create a life absent of all shadows. Where there is light, there is also darkness. As Abraham-Hicks teaches, “Contrast is inevitable.” So, let’s not push it away. Let’s choose to understand it and appreciate it for what it provides us.
All of us have shit moments and none of us can change the past. So, there is no point in pushing against it with judgment or resistance. We do, however, have the power to change our perception of what it means for our growth. When we shift our lens from resistance to appreciation, we see how life is always on purpose. This is what it means to thrive.
But it takes us actively composting shit to manure. It takes us bringing conscious awareness, honesty, discernment, and a ton of compassion to ourselves and all that we have gone through.
Many of us do a kind of reflection where we’re in our now moment and look back on our lives. We say, “Oh god, do you remember that boss? Ugh, she was the worst! BUT! If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have been compelled to leave the company and discover my love of marine life and decide to go back to school. I probably would still be in the financial industry— resigned, tolerating mediocrity, and wondering where my real life is.” Many of us can look back to periods in our life that at the time were unfavorable, but today we see how they served a meaningful purpose. What felt like shit then we innately see as manure now. That’s what it means to compost it through the process of reflection.
So, if we can compost shit looking backwards, then why can’t we do it in the other direction? Why wait for your future self to tell you how your shit turns out? Why not claim the purposefulness and freedom amidst the shit and turn it into manure proactively? To find freedom, we need to follow the process I call, “Painting Forward.” In the same way we look back and make sense of our mistakes, setbacks, or any form of “darkness,” and see how all of that has contributed to our current success today, we reorient our lens starting from now and project it towards our aspirational future self—actively converting pain to appreciation.
Whenever you find yourself in a “shit” moment or situation, stop and acknowledge that you’re in a shit moment. For example: “I just got laid off.” “I just discovered that my spouse cheated on me.” “We’re about to enter bankruptcy.” Life is rife with shit moments, so if you decide to live always on purpose and find true freedom, just intend now to tune your awareness to acknowledge these moments for what they are: shit.
To find true freedom, choose to stop tolerating the foul stench of unprocessed shit and make the decision to compost your internal conflicts right then and there.
Pick a point in time in your imagined future. It could be two years from now, it could be five years from now, it could be ten. The point in time needs to be distanced enough from your now moment so that the essence of “possibility” emerges. In other words, 3-6 months from now might not be aspirational enough because it’s easier to predict what might be true then. But two years from now, it’s not as easy to anticipate what your reality will be. Paint a picture as specific as feels good and go no further, meaning think as far as it feels good. Add specifics only if it feels delightful.
Come back to your now moment and reflect on the shit situation you’re contending with. In the same way we look back to dark times in our lives and see how they benefited our future, and now current state, I want you to take full stock of today’s shit situation and go the other way. Explain to yourself how this situation is totally and completely on purpose to get you to that two-, five-, or ten-year future state you envisioned. As you actively compost the shit to manure, paint forward a trajectory that uses this manure as a launching point to manifest that aspirational future. This is where you find true freedom.
There is no right or wrong way to paint forward as long as it converts resistance to acceptance and pain into inspiration. All you need to do is creatively explain to yourself how this shit moment could be on purpose—how it’s in your favor for your future state. To find true freedom, all you need to do is consider shit as manure.
The painful parts of life, both big and small, don’t have to be met with resistance. If we actively decide to honor duality and recognize that we grow from both pain and joy—in the same way a beautiful blossom needs both dark stinky soil and sunlight—we begin to find freedom and to live always on purpose.