For four decades, I attempted to live by a set of beliefs and values. These were all taught to me — directly or indirectly. However, my inner world was frequently misaligned with these outer beliefs. Which caused grief, shame, avoidance and, inevitability, depression. This is what happens when you subscribe to extrinsic beliefs and don’t examine what you truly believe.
In 2011, I began a journey (in reflection, somewhat sub-consciously) to find out what I truly believed. I didn’t want to just deconstruct these taught beliefs. I wanted to see what I believed in my soul. But I didn’t know where to start, but figured that tracing the roots of what I was taught to believe back to their source was as good a starting point as any. I also pushed the boundaries of the various orthodoxies I’d been taught. In early 2014, I read Paulo Coelho’s seminal book “The Alchemist”. A light came on. My soul has a voice. This voice guides me on my mission.
From this journey, I now believe we are each born with an inner knowing. A sort of genetic spiritual material that is either awakened or suppressed by parents, teachers, society, circumstances, experiences. As I listened to the voice of my soul, I began to uncover some intrinsic values: LOVE. TRUTH. ADVENTURE. DEFIANCE. I then asked myself the question we now ask in every Root Session experience with our clients: “What have you always known to be true that wasn’t taught to you?” Like a forensic scientist or archeologist. I began to trace the clues and signs back, back, back. Then there it was. A red thread of … FREEDOM.
I found this red thread of FREEDOM going all the way back to my earliest memories. I remember disobedience; of pushing back against constraints. Especially if they felt unfair or unnecessary. As a kid, I remember reading Jesus’ words “the Truth shall set you free” and thinking that I didn’t feel free. But I wanted to be. I wanted to be free of the toxic, heavy culture of home life. I wanted to be free of insecurity. I wanted to be free from grinding labor. I wanted to be free from arbitrary rules. From age 0 to 18, my life was a series of plotted escape attempts. It’s no wonder I was drawn to “The Great Escape”, “Alcatraz” and other prison-related movies.
In following this thread, I realized my belief in FREEDOM has been tested many, many times. Once I realized that it was my root belief, I saw times early in life where I would choose FREEDOM over whatever was being offered. In recent years, the testing of this belief became even more pronounced. When I became self-employed in 2004, I chose FREEDOM over stability (a choice I’ve made many times since). When I decided to leave Boise after 20 years, I chose FREEDOM over comfortableness. When I left the church I’d been a part of for 40+ years, I chose FREEDOM over obedience. All of these were difficult choices. Little did I know that more agonizing choices would come. Two in particular …
I’ve written here before about my partner’s awakening and realization of her sexual identity. After she came out to me as bisexual, I knew I had to choose between FREEDOM and tradition (and possibly control). I chose FREEDOM. Not necessarily for me, but for Lynna. I literally told her that she was free to follow her true self where ever that may lead. I knew that if I chose tradition, then my belief in FREEDOM was a sham. In choosing FREEDOM, I finally learned that truth does, indeed, set you free. But first it wounds, separates, hurts.
In the other moment of a choice, an already strained relationship with a sibling came to a breaking point. Offended and outraged at an article that I shared on social media, I was told that if I didn’t take it down that I was supporting hate and a variety of other perceived sins. In this case, I had to choose my belief in FREEDOM of speech and thought over family loyalty. After examining my heart and listening to the voice of my soul, I chose to leave the post up. This person now views me as an enemy.
It would be more convenient if our core beliefs were lined up on a shelf to be used in specific situations. This person needs some LOVE. I’m bored; let’s go on an ADVENTURE. I now know that although my core beliefs are interwoven and interdependent, there is a hierarchy. And at the top of that hierarchy is the belief that is tested in the fire again and again: FREEDOM. The one thing I’ve always known to be true.