Good or free?

I love Elizabeth Gilbert – she wrote Big Magic, a book all about creativity and has a podcast I love (called Magic Lessons in case you’re interested!) on the same subject. It’s her words that have encouraged me, as well as supportive words from loving friends, to continue with this blog and to work on a slightly bigger piece of work that I want to share with you over the coming weeks. Liz doesn’t promise that creativity will bring fame, money, status…or anything really – we can’t expect anything from it. However, her work has helped me to see that I’m a writer and that working on this blog is deep work that allows my heart and soul to breathe.

I also follow her on facebook and something I saw on her wall really called out to me. I’d like to work through what they mean by sharing some of her post with you…

Here is what I want to ask you today: What would happen inside your mind if you let go (just for a moment) of trying to be a GOOD PERSON and you imagined instead what it would feel like to be a FREE PERSON?

I think I know what you’re thinking – what about ethics? What about morality? What about duty? Your mind is imagining the slippery slope that could happen if you focused on being FREE, instead of being GOOD. Does this mean you will slide into complete decadence, selfishness, narcissism, abandon and even evil?

What if it doesn’t mean that, though? What if you were to believe that – at the very fundament of your being – you are ALREADY good? What if choosing freedom didn’t turn you into a monster, but instead turned you into a relaxed, healthy, friendly, and fully liberated human being, who trusts herself enough to create her own code of ethics?

These words took my breath away, and still do when I read them – what if I was to believe that I am, at the very fundament of myself – a good person?  This scrambles my mind because it goes against a negative core belief that I have been confronted with recently– a belief that is rooted deep inside me and defines parts of my existance.

The belief that I am a horrible, selfish, unlovable person and it’s only through doing nice things that people can like me.

There, I’ve said it. It’s out. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a belief that mars my every day existence or overwhelms me with pain. It’s not a belief that destroys me, but it is a belief that slowly erodes me and takes away my confidence. It’s also a belief that determines much of my actions as I try, despite being horrible, selfish, unlovable, to convince people that I’m worthy of their love and acceptance.

I’m not saying this to gain your pity or as a cry for help or comfort, dear friend, but to hopefully take away some of the power that this shameful belief has over me and to create a new positive core belief that I am, at the fundament of my being, a good person. Sure, I have moments of being horrible and selfish but also so many of showing kindness, generosity and love. 

So Liz’s words have shown me that I’m not only good when I’m acting ‘good’ (putting others first, being kind, showing generosity) but also good when I’m acting out of freedom, prioritising my desires/wants/needs.

Thinking about this is similar to being under water, holding my breath, and finally coming up for air. The thought that I can live from a place of freedom and still be good – it’s a game changer. It gives me confidence that living free will not turn me into a selfish, narcissistic, selfish, greedy, unlovable monster.

In fact, I suspect that, as Liz says, living from this place of freedom will make me more relaxed, not living out of a brittle shell, hustling for my worthiness, that might snap at any moment. It has the potential to give me more capacity for friendship as I am kinder and less judgmental of myself and therefore less prone to judging other people.  It has the promise of alleviating the physical stress that I feel all too often as tightness in my chest, protecting me from heart disease, high blood pressure and panic attacks.

What else do Liz’s words bring to me? I feel such relief, comprehension and revelation that I am normal, not weird in my struggle with wanting to be good but also yearning to be free. You see, I am prone to being hard on myself and have, for a long period of time, labelled myself as inauthentic – being kind, behaving as I ‘should’, following the rules of what society deems as ‘good’ in order to be accepted and have people like me. Liz’s words made me realise that I am normal…or at least not completely abnormal (!) in living like this. It takes the judgement and blame away from how I’ve lived and with this, I feel I have more capacity to change if I so wish.

I hope her words have brought some wisdom to you too, dear friend.


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