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  • Diane Henderson, LCSW

Freedom in the New Year

Empowerment Tip #5: Empowered People Find Freedom, Even In Restrictive Circumstances


In her “Spiritual Spa” for January 2021, Iyanla Vanzant discussed what we need to do to create and experience FREEDOM, especially at this time in our lives. She defined freedom as “The inherent right to choose what you think, how you feel, and in the actions you take.” I believe in this inherent right, but during this time of COVID and the political issues plaguing our country, I am having a difficult time feeling free. She went on to say that there are three steps you must take to be free: Look Up, Let Go, and Watch.


LOOK UP: We have lost so much control over our lives during 2020 that some of us feel like lost sheep. “Looking Up” means that we must get in touch with our spirituality to help us deal with whatever we are going through. Many of our freedoms have been taken from us through no fault of our own or anyone else. It is what it is. Elderly folks feel that they are taking their lives into their own hands every time they go out in public. Parents of young children feel torn, frustrated, and exhausted from having to help their kids with virtual or hybrid learning. Many have lost their jobs and wonder from where their next meal will come. People who live alone never get physically touched and suffer from loneliness. We cannot visit our loved ones, and we feel isolated from the rest of the world. Uncertainty is a constant---Will the children go back to school next semester? Will my friend survive COVID? Will there be toilet paper at the grocery store? Will I be able to feed my family?


Spirituality is different from religion, although both can go hand in hand. Spirituality is what you feel, and religion is what you are taught. To me, looking up means paying more attention to what you know that your Higher Power wants for you and can help you attain. It means that you can draw courage, strength, patience, and joy from your Higher Power. You can also find Freedom from anger, hostility, jealously, anxiety, depression, and sadness from your Higher Power source. Looking up likewise means learning to find positives within the negatives and being grateful for what you do have, rather than being angry, sad, or depressed for what you don’t.


LET GO: Iyanla states, “2021 is the year that you have to let go of the story—whatever it is. I know it was bad, I know it was ugly, I know it hurt, I know you were desperate, I know they were wrong. But you’ve got to give up that story this year. If you do not give up the stories of the past, you will remain enslaved to them.” I agree with her. My book, “ALL GOD’S CHILDREN GOT ISSUES—A Woman’s Guide to Turn Their Issues Into Assets” is about letting go and changing your story. In the book, I discuss learning about your comfort zone and how it keeps you stuck. I also teach why you have resistance to changing your story, and explain why you are not that story, but much, much more than you have been telling yourself. I then give you exercises to help you climb out of your story and develop a new narrative for yourself, helping you to achieve a higher level of freedom by letting go.


There may be a myriad of other things which you may need to let go. How about letting go of:

• your ego and learn to relate to others from your heart

• the jealousy that you carry in your head that can affect your relationships with others

• negative thinking

• self-criticism

• worry

• not being truthful to yourself and others

• anger

• generally bad attitudes

Giving these types of things up is your ticket to Freedom this year.


WATCH: Watch yourself. Take a good look in the mirror and see how you are tripping yourself up by holding onto old business, by looking at the world through negative and hurt eyes, by attracting the wrong types of people into your life, by not taking care of your body, health, and well-being. Learn to watch others and observe how they treat you. Move away from all who make you feel small, not okay, less than. Move toward those who help you feel strong, worthy, and good about yourself.


Of the things that Iyanla and I have discussed, what do you need to focus on in order to attain Freedom during this trying time? Write them down and put them in a place where they can easily be seen to remind you that often the lack of feeling FREE is an internal issue and not an external one. When your spirit is FREE, nothing and no one can take Freedom away from you unless you let them.


Wishing you the very best in 2021,


Your Coach,

Diane


**Diane's newest book, ALL GOD'S CHILDREN GOT ISSUES: A Woman's Guide to Turn Her Issues Into Assets, is available at www.allgodschildrengotissues.com, Amazon.com, and bookstores nationwide in multiple formats.

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