Powerful Ideas #1

In the United States we constantly brag about how free we are…
“The Land of the Free” and all that.
But therapists know that many people, maybe even most people, are enslaved.

Some of us are slaves to other people,
especially spouses and employers.
Others are slaves to our own beliefs and desires.


We train our children to be enslaved by a culture
which sees them as the “property” of the nearest adult.

Children are at the mercy of the adults in their lives:
“Always do what your teachers tell you to do.”
“Respect your elders.”
“Do as you are told!”
“Don’t question my authority!”
“It’s my house and as long as you are here you’ll do as I say!”
Etcetera, etcetera…

Children have only these three choices:
To COMPLY by doing what the adults want.
To REBEL by doing the exact opposite of what the adults want.
To MIX compliance and rebellion.
Each of these (even the rebellion)
is based on what the adults want.

It’s not until we are nearly adults
that we have a fourth choice:
To do what we want to do
regardless of what others want.


Making decisions “regardless” of others means:

1. Knowing we are free to make our own decisions.

2. Knowing we can always choose to do
all, some, or none of what others want us to do.

3. Taking responsibility when we do what others want
(instead of blaming them for wanting it).

4. Taking responsibility when we don’t do what others want
(instead of giving excuses to them or ourselves).


Adults actually choose the poisons that rob them of their freedom.

The most popular current poison is success.
People decide they will be successful “at all costs”
and then even brag that they are driven by it!
They sell off most of their time and energy in exchange for money,
and the jealousy of others who share their shallow values.

Some other common freedom poisons are:
Drugs, alcohol, sex, constantly pleasing a lover or relative,
and following someone else’s religious or philosophical beliefs
instead of developing our own.


Each “Yes” indicates freedom. Each “No” shows a lack of it.

___ Did you think your job would be enjoyable when you accepted it?
___ Do you choose your own assignments, or are you happy about the assignments you get?
___ Do you and your coworkers cooperate about time and energy?
___ Do you usually feel proud and satisfied at the end of a work day?
___ Would you change jobs without much thought if you were dissatisfied?

___ Did you freely choose whether to be alone or married, whether to have children, etc.
___ Do you choose the chores you do around the house, and do you do them on your own initiative?
___ Do you stay home when you want and leave when you want?

___ Do you almost always feel safe?
___ Do you usually think you make your own choices about what to do and when to do it?
___ When you are dissatisfied with someone do you tell them?
___ Are you seldom bored (lacking excitement)?
___ Are you seldom exhausted (lacking food or rest)?
___ Do people seldom? say you are “too perfect” (compliant) or “too negative” (rebellious)?
___ Do people seldom refer to you as “rigid” or “righteous” (stuck in your own beliefs)?
___ Are you free of chemical addictions (things you think you need)?
___ Are you free of behavioral addictions (things you think you need to do)?


Being alive means having a certain amount of time and energy.
Being an adult means taking responsibility for how you use this time and energy.
Adults always make all of their own decisions,
whether they know it or not.

It has always been YOUR life –
even when other people didn’t respect it
and even when you didn’t know it yourself.

Take full responsibility for every decision you make,
every decision you keep,
and every decision you change.

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