Grow to free will

We value freedom as much as we fear it. But what does it consist of? In the rejection of prohibitions and prejudices, the ability to do what you want? Is it about changing careers at 50 or going on a world tour penniless? And is there anything in common between the freedom that a bachelor boasts of and that which a politician glorifies?

Some of us think that there is too much freedom: they do not approve of same-sex marriages allowed in Europe or TV projects like Dom-2. Others, on the contrary, are outraged by the possible restriction of freedom of the press, speech and assembly. This means that there are “freedoms” in the plural, which refer to our rights, and “freedom” in the philosophical sense: the ability to act independently, to make choices, to decide for oneself.

And what I get for this?

Psychologists have their own view: they associate freedom with our actions, and not with ourselves. “It seems to many that to be free means to be free to do what you want, and to be not free means to be forced to do what you don’t want,” says family psychotherapist Tatyana Fadeeva. – That’s why “white-collar workers” often feel not free: they sit in the office all year round, but I would like to go to the river, to go fishing, to Hawaii.

And pensioners, on the contrary, talk about freedom – from worries with small children, going to work, and so on. Now you can live as you want, they rejoice, only health does not allow … But, in my opinion, only those actions can be called truly free, for which we are ready to bear responsibility.

That is, playing the guitar all night and having fun, while the whole house is sleeping, is not yet freedom. But if at the same time we are ready for the fact that angry neighbors or the police can come running at any moment, this is freedom.


The idea that freedom can be a value originated in the humanistic philosophy of the XNUMXth century. In particular, Michel Montaigne wrote extensively about human dignity and the fundamental rights of the individual. In a society of destiny, where everyone is called upon to follow in the footsteps of their ancestors and remain in their class, where the son of a peasant inevitably becomes a peasant, where the family shop is passed down from generation to generation, where parents choose future spouses for their children, the question of freedom is secondary.

It ceases to be so when people begin to think of themselves as individuals. Freedom came to the fore a century later thanks to the philosophy of the Enlightenment. Thinkers such as Kant, Spinoza, Voltaire, Diderot, Montesquieu and the Marquis de Sade (who spent 27 years in prison and in a lunatic asylum) set themselves the task of freeing the human spirit from obscurantism, superstition, the shackles of religion.

Then for the first time it became possible to imagine humanity endowed with free will, freed from the burden of tradition.

How is it our way

“It is necessary to be aware of the limitations that exist in life,” says Gestalt therapist Maria Gasparyan. – If we ignore the prohibitions, this indicates the psychological immaturity of the individual. Freedom is for psychologically adult people. Children don’t know how to deal with freedom.

The younger the child, the less freedom and responsibility he has. In other words, “my freedom ends where another person’s freedom begins.” And it should not be confused with permissiveness and arbitrariness. It turns out that responsibility is a necessary condition for freedom.

But it seems that this sounds strange to the Russian ear… In our culture, freedom is synonymous with free will, a spontaneous impulse, and not at all responsibility or necessity. “A Russian person runs away from any control, fights against any restrictions,” notes Tatyana Fadeeva. “And he refers to self-restraints as “heavy fetters” as those imposed from the outside.”

A Russian person runs away from any control, fights against any restrictions.

Oddly enough, the concepts of freedom and will – will in the sense that you can do whatever you want and you will not get anything for it – from the point of view of psychologists, they are not connected at all. “They seem to be from different operas,” says Maria Gasparyan. “The real manifestations of freedom are to make choices, to accept limitations, to be responsible for actions and deeds, to be aware of the consequences of one’s choice.”

Breaking – not building

If we mentally return to our 12-19 years, then we will surely remember how passionately at that time we longed for independence, even if it was almost not manifested outwardly. And most teenagers, in order to free themselves from parental influence, protest, destroy, break everything in their path.

“And then the most interesting begins,” says Maria Gasparyan. – A teenager is looking for himself, gropes for what is close to him, what is not close, develops his own system of values. He will take some parental values, reject some. In a bad scenario, for example, if mom and dad interfere with the separation process, their child can get stuck in a teenage rebellion. And for him the idea of ​​liberation will become super-important.

For what and from what, it is not clear. As if protest for the sake of protest becomes the main thing, and not movement towards one’s own dreams. It can go on for a lifetime.” And with a good development of events, the teenager will come to his own goals and desires. Begin to understand what to strive for.

Place for achievement

How much does our freedom depend on the environment? Reflecting on this, the French writer and existential philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once wrote shocking words in the article “The Republic of Silence”: “We have never been as free as during the occupation.” the movement had the weight of an obligation.” We could resist, rebel, or remain silent. There was no one to show us the way to go.”

Sartre encourages everyone to ask themselves the question: “How can I live more in accordance with who I am?” The fact is that the first effort to be made in order to become active actors in life is to get out of the position of the victim. Each of us is potentially free to choose what is good for him, what is bad. Our worst enemy is ourselves.

By repeating to ourselves “this is how it should be”, “you should”, as our parents may have said, shaming us for deceiving their expectations, we do not allow ourselves to discover our true possibilities. We are not responsible for the wounds we suffered in childhood and the traumatic memory of which keeps us captive, but we are responsible for the thoughts and images that appear in us when we remember them.

And only by freeing ourselves from them, we can live our lives with dignity and happiness. Build a ranch in America? Open a restaurant in Thailand? Travel to Antarctica? Why not listen to your dreams? Our desires give rise to driving thoughts that often give us the power to accomplish what others think is impossible.

This does not mean that life is easy. For example, for a young mother who is raising children alone, just freeing up an evening for herself to go to a yoga class is sometimes a real feat. But our desires and the pleasure they bring give us strength.

3 steps to your “I”

Three meditations offered by Gestalt therapist Maria Gasparyan help to achieve calmness and become closer to yourself.

“Smooth Lake”

Exercise is especially effective for reducing heightened emotionality. Imagine before your mind’s eye an absolutely quiet, windless expanse of the lake. The surface is completely calm, serene, smooth, reflecting the beautiful banks of the reservoir. The water is mirror-like, clean and even. It reflects the blue sky, snow-white clouds and tall trees. You simply admire the surface of this lake, tuning in to its calmness and serenity.

Do the exercise for 5-10 minutes, you can describe the picture, mentally listing everything that is present in it.


This is an old Eastern way of focusing and eliminating disturbing thoughts. Take the rosary and slowly turn it over, fully concentrating on this activity, directing your attention only to the process itself.

Listen to how your fingers touch the beads, and immerse yourself in the sensations, reaching maximum awareness. If there are no rosaries, you can replace them by scrolling your thumbs. Cross your fingers together, as many people do in thought, and roll your thumbs, fully concentrating on this action.

“Farewell Tyrant”

What kind of people scare your Inner Child? Do they have power over you, do you look up to them or do they make you feel weak? Imagine that one of them is in front of you. How do you feel in front of him? What are the sensations in the body? What do you feel about yourself? What about your energy? How do you communicate with this person? Do you judge yourself and try to change yourself?

Now identify the main person in your life over whom you feel your own superiority. Imagine that you are in front of him, ask the same questions. Compare answers. Make a conclusion.

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