Such freedom does exist, although admittedly, surprisingly few enjoy it. Why? Because such freedom comes from a different orientation to life. Rather than what is known as an “external locus of control” where we allow everything and anything (people, weather, drugs, news reports, food, pets and so forth) to control our moods and thoughts, we choose rather an internal locus of control that puts us in charge of our own lives, where we freely choose how we will face life.
William Glasser, a well-known psychologist and writer, has written an excellent book titled “Choice Theory,” where he advocates reclaiming freedom in our lives by challenging us to take full responsibility for ourselves, our moods, our situation in life, our relationships. In this work, he cites several axioms he believes can define and redefine your personal freedom.
1. The only person whose behavior we can control is our own. No one can make us do anything. Although many may try to rob you of your ability to choose, taking control of your own life and thereby not allowing others to control you ultimately gives you more freedom, and actually enhances your relationships.
2. All we can give or get from other people is information. How we deal with that information is our choice. If you allow yourself to be controlled by that information, this is your choice. Freedom comes from integrating and living by information that makes sense to you.
3. All long-lasting psychological problems are relationship problems. Think for a moment of the variety of problems that people face in their daily lives. Whether they are addiction problems, marital problems or job problems, ultimately what isn’t working are relationships in the individual’s life. Understanding this, it’s a wonder that we don’t give much more time and attention to teaching people how to relate better.
4. The problem relationship is always a part of our present lives. Of course there is a “past” to our relationship problems and perhaps a “future” to those same problems, but the problem always presents itself in the present. Solving problems means focusing on the present relationship. Focusing on the past or future keeps the present problem unresolved. What happened in the past that was painful has a great deal to do with who we are today, but revisiting this painful past can contribute little or nothing to what we need to do now: improve an important, present relationship.
Are you free? Perhaps a better question is “Are you taking responsibility for your life?” If you are, you already know the answer to the first question.