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Psychological Freedom

By:  Sandra Ford Walston

Freedom has so many connotations. How would a courageous entrepreneur woman define freedom? I had to stop and think about this. I know a courageously observant woman re-evaluates her identity to discover what is true and vital, then summons her courage to step up.

The opposite of this would be the woman who stays stuck in the false self* feeling protected from life such as perpetuating denial, frustrations or triggering afflictive emotions such as anger or jealousy. Unfortunately, these protective identities represent the false self that operates in the lower levels of courage consciousness and denies the deeper truth of the Self. If you take an explicit role as a seeker of your own fully developed being, your true Self, you may be surprised to discover that the journey is clear-cut and personally intimate, and the results breathe in true freedom!

Glory in Slowing

Valuing your entrepreneurial spirit requires you to connect to your spiritual journey and recognize the element of time. Specifically, you will need to rethink your approach to time in the context of how you care for yourself and how you manifest your spirituality at work in order to find inner freedom. While facing mental suffering, learning how to slow the mind and letting go of the false self’s inclination to force an issue create an invitation to shift perspectives. Moments of inactivity (almost boredom) help you recharge and determine if you are staying aligned with your true, courageous intention. This type of contemplative practice is very different from obstacles that thwart everyday courage such as inertia. Inertia can keep you stuck until you actually become the shallow, melodramatic character of a scripted role—the false self—the opposite of spiritual freedom.

For our culture, learning to go slowly is one of the greatest acts of courage; paradoxically, going slowly allows you to accomplish more, and the false self diminishes. Open your heart, listen in silence and work from your center to gain psychological freedom from the ego’s false self and its accompanying desires, drives and distractions. When you have a bit of free time, what do you commit to do that slows you down? If you were to start this slowing journey, what is it that you lack the courage to do? “What one word best describes you?”

Courage Signposts

The juggling acts that society tells us are necessary in today’s chaotic world can make it hard to find your courage signposts. Becoming very still frees you to listen to your inner voice so you can extricate your True Self from the false self. Meditation is a great step to slowing because, by the sheer practice, you bring to life your innate capacity for connecting your inner and outer work. After committing to a contemplative journey, women have shared: “When I come home from work I am less annoyed at my children,” “My boss doesn’t get to me as much,” or “I have more patience.

Knowing what meditative technique is right for you is a process that requires your investigative action and then learning the practice. Techniques that have proven effective include prayer, yoga, therapy, discernment (an ancient Christian technique), psychosynthesis, transcendental meditation, meditation retreats, chakra balancing, trance dance, sweat lodge ceremonies, walking a labyrinth, process painting, Dzogchen, reflective reading, Deeksha healing, playing a musical instrument, writing, and many more. Whatever form you choose, the meditative process changes you not the circumstance. Pick your choice of action for inviting freedom.


By adopting a contemplative practice, we stop, both physically and mentally. Focusing our attention on a deeper level, we greatly enhance self-observation. By opening ourselves to the deeper levels of our being, we diminish StuckThinking™ in exchange for a new state of consciousness. Psychologists have known for a long time that habitual thinking causes suffering. In courage-centeredness, you identify with your deeper Self, Your True Self, and claim the courage that empowers you to limiting perceptions; paradoxically, it also allows you to let go of your attachment to those perceptions and move beyond them.

If freedom were a permanent gift just waiting for you to embrace, are you willing to find and learn a practice? Embracing the glory in slowing frees you to observe more wholly how to advance your business and live in self-fulfillment.

*In Open Mind, Open Heart, renowned contemplative founder Thomas Keating defines this false self this way: “The false self is the self-image developed to cope with the emotional trauma of early childhood which seeks happiness in satisfying the instinctual needs of survival/security, affection/esteem, and power/control, and which bases its self-worth on cultural or group identification.”

Author Bio

Sandra Ford Walston is known as The Courage Expert and innovator of StuckThinking™. She’s an organizational effectiveness/learning consultant, speaker, corporate trainer and a courage coach, specializing in understanding courage behaviors, courageous leadership and individual personality and leadership styles that focus on the tricks and traps of the human condition. The internationally published author of bestseller COURAGE and winner for the Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, Sandra facilitates individuals and groups to discover the power of their everyday courage. Her second book, STUCK: 12 Steps Up the Leadership Ladder, will be out fourth quarter 2010. She is qualified to administer and interpret the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and is a certified Enneagram teacher. Sandra has been published in magazines such as “Chief Learning Officer,” “Training & Development” and “Strategic Finance.” She provides skill-based programs for public and private businesses, including Caterpillar, Inc., Nolte Engineering, Hensel Phelps, Auburn University, Procter & Gamble, Farmers Insurance, IBM, Wide Open West and Hitachi Consulting. Sandra instructs at the University of Denver Graduate Tax Program. She posts a courage blog and she can be reached at http://www.sandrawalston.com/




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