Well, that’s a random (however, truthful) question for a Wednesday, but certainly an important one to ask: are you living in a cage? I don’t mean that literally of course, but metaphorically, do you feel trapped in your own home, job, marriage, family? Perhaps, worst of all, do you feel trapped in your own mind; so much so that all you hear is the rattling of the bars and the banging of the tin cup as you try to escape or just have someone hear and understand you?
From thoughtkick: “Some people live in cages with bars built from their own fears and doubts. Some people live in cages with bars built from other people’s fears and doubts; their parents, their friends, their brothers and sisters, their families. Some people live in cages with bars built from the choices others made for them, the circumstances other people imposed upon them. And some people break free.”
And some people break free! How glorious is this? I believe we all are yearning to break free from something that is holding us back. Even the most confident, empowered, successful people have felt trapped in a cage at some point in time. Let’s take a look at how we get there and how we can break free.
The Cage Feels Smaller & Smaller
Let’s begin with a big one—overextending ourselves; it’s so difficult to say no, isn’t it? And yes ladies, I am directing this to us as we are guilty of this more so than men. We often believe that saying yes is a way to be liked, to fit in, to be respected, to achieve Super Mom status. However, what usually happens is that we wear ourselves out and do a lot of things half-assed instead of doing a few things really well.
Our souls feel empty, life has lost meaning, we aren’t sure of our purpose, we are simply reacting or going through the motions, we are lonely. In essence, we’ve actually outgrown our current life. These are all valid reasons for feeling trapped.
Oppression of any kind: continually being criticized, being in a relationship with a narcissistic person (or any other toxic behavior), mental, financial or physical abuse, a dead-end job, or micromanaging bosses, family that “means well” but come across in non-loving ways….this list could go on and on but I think we can all agree that there are a million things that could put us in a cage. I feel trapped because ___________ (insert your reason here)!
If we continue with any of these things, it’s natural, over time, that the cage is going to feel like it’s tighening, growing smaller and smaller; basically sapping the joy and energy from our bodies.
Then, we become even more drained by trying to maintain a facade of “normalcy” and happiness. Heaven forbid we ask for help or just say no. This has been a problem for ages. We talk about it non-stop, but seem no closer to a solution. In fact, there’s more depression, anxiety and general tiredness even though so many are discussing the importance of saying no and of self-care. I say it’s time to rattle those bars!
Rattling the Bars
It doesn’t have to be this way. We are always one decision away from a totally different life. Dennis Waitley says, “There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept responsibility for changing them.”
Remember the first question I asked, “Are you living in a cage?” The question now is, do you want to keep living like this? My guess is that the answer is a big, fat NO!
Today’s mantra: I am letting go of anything that causes me to doubt my own greatness!
The more we rattle the cage holding us in, the more interesting life becomes. For example:
- Take initiative (this can be done in baby steps): volunteer at school, church or in the community
- Go through address books and social media contacts. It’s okay to let go of those who weigh us down but, don’t forget that there are many others that would love to hear from us. Reach out via message, phone or email. We just may find ourselves with a coffee date and new interests to help break free.
- Get into a positive head-space. I know it’s not always easy, but approaching people and ideas with optimism is a way to start.
- Focus on the things we really like about ourselves; building on those qualities will help build our confidence and self-esteem.
- Enjoy being alone; this can be extremely liberating. Remember: alone does not equal loneliness.
- Don’t get sucked into “grass is always greener” mentality on social media. People always want others to see the good, the fun, the successes, etc. Remember that most people are struggling just as much as we are.
- Build trust gradually. When red flags are noticed, investigate and listen to our guts. Most people will show us exactly who they are early on. If they are overly charming or move too quickly, we have the power to put the brakes on before getting in too deep and the cage door begins to close. Do not choose any old relationship out of loneliness.
- Look for a new job if we aren’t being challenged or if the environment is so negative, it’s impacting life in a harmful way.
- We can’t get rid of our family, but we can limit the amount of time we spend with them. Do not engage in unhealthy conversation or activities with them. As humans, it’s natural to seek approval from our parents, but there is no rule stating we have live our lives to please them. This is true if they criticize us no matter what we do.
- Stand up for yourself and others; we have the power within us.
The greatest task we have to tackle first: working to release the pain of past hurts. Seek professional assistance if necessary (there is no shame in this). These events and situations are lessons, not life sentences meant to cage us in. Letting go and feeling inner peace is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves.
I’m not naive to think that everything will go our way in life, but knowing about and having the FREEDOM to choose from the endless opportunities and possibilities out there is enough incentive to break free!
It’s time to find our brave and get out of our comfort zones (which is a cage in itself). Time to stop letting the world dictate how we live. Yes we need to pay the bills, but we don’t have to build incredible wealth. We need to do what sets our soul on fire and ignites our passions! We need to follow dreams and that which inspires us.
Money, a big house, a relationship, possessions—they’re nice but they don’t and shouldn’t define us. We should not give our power away to things and definitely not to those who “think” THEY know what’s best for us.
Today, let’s face our fears, our cages and break free. Pick one thing at a time. The goal is not to overwhelm but to overcome. Embrace that which holds us back: sit with it, cry with it, laugh with it. We will reach a point where we are ready to accept and explore all the world has to offer and in turn, offer our gifts and talents to others.
There’s a whole universe waiting for us if we just unlock the door!