Freedom: Largely an Inner Matter

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Many people view freedom as being external-based or external-caused. “If I go on a cruise, I will be free.” “If I had some extra money, I could buy a house.” On the surface, it may look to many as if freedom is just an external matter.

In contrast, Viktor Frankl, the eminent psychotherapist, in his classic Man’s Search for Meaning, viewed freedom as largely an inner or internal matter, as in mind, heart, and spirit. He noted that the WWII extermination camps were designed to break down prisoners, and that those who survived had inner resources or strengths to draw on, such as will to live and imagination to transcend the horribly limiting context. He’s right. The experience of freedom is largely an inner matter anyway since it’s the individual responses of individuals which signify and get a person through difficult times and circumstances. It is those inner responses which are always potentially freeing from whatever limits.

Even the first two sample quotes above are about how freedom is a personal matter–as in “If I…” and that whatever benefits these two speakers would receive would most likely be felt or experienced innerly if they could achieve their wishes.

The experience and resonance of whatever freedom one cares to name occurs inside us, giving us whatever pleasure, satisfaction, and fulfillment. Our inner selves are freed–physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually–when we experience freedom. Thus, it is the innerness, the inner release which makes freedom so wonderful, valuable, and completely necessary in our lives.

(previously printed here Aug. 15, 2013)

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