Free Yourself

lifecareerSometimes we’re held hostage. Maybe we have an idea in our heads of how things “should” be, and we just can’t open to other possibilities; we’re chained to our vision. Or we might feel oppressed by fear about something we’re feeling that threatens the “way things are.” Sometimes we’ve become prisoner to someone else’s instability. It’s a terrible feeling when we aren’t free to do and say what feels right in our hearts. There are certain practicalities in life; we need a place to sleep that’s warm and safe, and we need food, and we also need connection, and sometimes we sacrifice a lot in service to those realities.

The thing is, it’s incredibly draining to engage with people who make us worry that they can’t handle the truth, whatever the truth may be for us. Having to sit on your hands or shove a metaphorical sock in your mouth so you don’t rock the boat, is not a sustainable way to go. At a certain point, you’re going to burst, and anyone in the near vicinity is going to get hit in the face with the shackles that were binding you.

We can allow ourselves to be held at bay by someone’s manipulation. Maybe we’re allowing ourselves to get sweet-talked, or we’re feeling guilty even though we haven’t done anything wrong, or we’re feeling guilty because we’re afraid we have. We may be stifled by our own self-limiting beliefs. We may be hostage to self-loathing or shame that was planted within us long ago. Whatever the case, and whatever the cause, you’re here to be free. You can’t utilize all of your energy if you have to divert a lot of it to dealing with what someone else insists you be for them, or what you insist on being for other people. You really have to be true to yourself to be free.

That means you have to heal old wounds, or they’ll own you. You have to reckon with your pain to liberate yourself. Free people aren’t on the run, and they aren’t numbed out, either. Living in alignment with what’s true for you is necessary if you want to be at peace. Sometimes you have to fight for your freedom, and then you have to guard it with boundaries. You have to get to a place where you can speak up and say, “No, that is not okay for me.” Living in fear isn’t really living, it’s like trying to breathe with an elephant sitting on your chest. You can’t manage other people’s pain, you can only keep your own side of the street clean.

Also, if you have some expectation of yourself that you aren’t supposed to make mistakes, you’re going to be disappointed a lot. If you feel the need to apologize to someone, and you don’t think doing so will be painful to them, or disruptive to their own healing process, by all means, go for it. Maybe you’ll be forgiven, and maybe not. Sometimes people have a story they’re holding onto to avoid doing their own work (sometimes we are all those people), but usually, eventually, we get bored of telling ourselves stories that keep us stuck, or make us powerless. Whatever the case, eventually you have to forgive yourself. Guilt doesn’t serve anyone. It doesn’t make things better for those we’ve disappointed, and it doesn’t help us do better moving forward. Shame rides with guilt, same scenario.

Life is too short to spend a lot of time living a life that isn’t everything it could be if you listened to your heart. That doesn’t mean you don’t try to do whatever you have to do with compassion and care for those who might be affected, but it does mean that the best thing you can give to yourself, to this world, and to the people you love is your heart, on fire.


Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton


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Love is Not a Stranglehold

Love is not about control; that might seem obvious, but sometimes it’s good to get really clear on that concept, because we’re all only human, and when you love someone, whether it’s your child or your parent, your partner, sibling, or best friend, you become vulnerable; there’s no point fighting that reality. You have a body with an unknown expiration date, you have a gorgeous heart which is capable of incredible love. Human beings are designed to need each other, and to reach out, so loving is part of the equation, as is the inherent exposure to loss and suffering that go along with loving. We never know how much time we have, or how much time anyone else has. We never know what will happen next.

It’s human and very understandable that we want to control certain outcomes; we want to do whatever we can to make sure those we love are safe, healthy and happy. Those are good, loving desires, but things get sticky when our ideas about what is good for someone differ from their own. We can all step back and agree that certain behaviors are self-destructive, and are very likely to lead to pain, injury, or worse. If you have a loved one who’s putting himself in harm’s way, of course you try to step in and find help and support.

I’m not talking about that, though, I’m talking about the pain that ensues when we try to manage or control another person’s feelings. Have you ever told someone they shouldn’t be angry? “Don’t be mad.” “Don’t be sad.” “Don’t be scared.” Why do we think we can tell other people how to feel? There can be a difference between how you feel, and what is happening. Maybe you feel like your partner never listens to you, and your partner disagrees. It does not matter who’s “right”, you feel unheard. Now you have an opportunity to look at that together. Is this a theme in your life? Did you feel unheard or unseen as a child? Did you have any evidence that the way you felt about things had an impact on the world around you as you were growing up? Does feeling unheard make you feel disrespected? Invisible? There’s a lot to examine, and if your partner is willing to examine this stuff with you, without getting defensive about whether they actually do a good job of listening or not, there’s an opportunity for real intimacy to emerge. If your partner has to tell you that how you feel isn’t right, communication breaks down. Now they’re invested in convincing you that they do listen, and that your feelings are wrong. We don’t have to agree with how someone feels in order to work with their reality. If you love someone, you want to know them, right?

If you want to be right all the time, love is going to be a tough gig for you. If you want to possess or own another person, you’re in for a rough time there, too. You don’t own your children. They aren’t possessions, they’re people, with their own paths and ideas and needs and wants that will emerge if you allow them to, or become buried if you do not. When we bury what’s deep in our hearts, what’s true for us, we suffer. Love can be brutal; you may love someone with everything you’ve got, and they may leave you. Maybe that’s what they need for their own growth. Who’s to say? It may break your heart in a million pieces, but you can’t block the door, y’know? You can’t tell them they don’t feel the way they feel. You cannot control what another person will do, say, want or need.  You can’t save anyone except yourself.

Love has open hands and open arms and an open heart and mind. It doesn’t cling or manipulate or try to control. It’s an embrace, not a stranglehold. When you love someone, you want for them what they want for themselves. You want to support their growth and expansion. It requires your bravery and your trust, and your willingness to get hurt. I’m not telling you to be reckless with your heart; choose where you put it carefully. But when you love, you might as well do it all the way.

Ally Hamilton

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