During the process of growing up we learn a great many things;
As a result of that a great number of people do not believe in themselves and their own human endowments. They get wrapped up in self-destructive feelings and/- or behaviors, become depressed, frustrated, bored, angry and disillusioned. The reason for why that is that they have lost touch with their own powers of creativity, spontaneity, love and understanding.
Nevertheless, this does not need to be. By taking our development into our own hands, by actively working on ourselves in such a way as to confront and overcome those things within ourselves which hold us back from being our authentic, happy, peaceful and loving self we can reclaim those human powers which are innate within each and every one of us.
Each and every one of us has the capacity to develop any kind of skill and talent, the capacity for healing, the ability to confront and deal with any problem and challenge. If we are committed to work on ourselves we can accomplish almost anything, but one of the greatest challenges we are facing is to overcome external, as well as internal conditioning which has caused us to loose faith in ourselves and our own powers.
To paraphrase the German humanist and psychotherapist Erich Fromm:
Among the goals of living are the overcoming of greed, hate, illusions, fears, possessiveness, destructiveness, dishonesty, alienation, indifference, lack of authenticity, and to achieve independence, the capacity for critical thought, for giving, for loving.
Man's development requires his capacity to transcend the narrow prison of his ego, his greed, his selfishness, his separation from his fellow man, and hence, his basic loneliness.
This transcendence is the condition for him being open and related to the world;
to enjoy all of that is alive, to pour out his faculties into the world around him, to be interested;
in brief, to be rather than to have.
We here in the West live in a predominantly production and consumption oriented society, and we human beings with our innate human endowments have become a tool subservient to the socio-economic interest of the state, motivated by the promise of consumption and freedom of choice. As soon as we begin on the path of formal education we are instilled with the following message: Life is an investment which should yield the highest outcome, and in order to become successful we need to put our feelings, which are basically seen as a sign of weakness aside, work really hard and strive to produce desirable results and outcomes. As long as we are doing what is required of us, and as long as we are doing what we are supposed to do we are promised the freedom of choice, the freedom of speech, and the freedom to live our lives the way we choose to.
As we are busy dealing with external pressure and expectations our innate humanity goes through a process of radical transformation:
Slowly over time we loose our ability to think for ourselves since we are too busy taking notes and memorizing facts. Our natural wonder and curiosity which we all possess as children, our desire to understand and to explore the world on our own terms gets lost in the process of formal education with its emphasize on obedience, conformity and living up to external expectations. We cease to be amazed about life, external pressure replaces internal activity and interest, and we become alienated from our innate human powers.
Learning for example, something that is a very natural element of what it means to be alive. Just observing young children reveals their innate interest, wonder and desire to understand themselves and life in general becomes a routine, something one has to do in order to make the grade or to pass a test; it no longer stems from our innate interest, ceases to be something one wants to do, but becomes a function on has to fulfill. Most all of our natural human endowments go through the process of external conditioning, they become alienated from ourselves and take on the form of something mechanical and artificial.
Since we are required to live up to and are measured against a great number of external rules and guidelines we begin to look for what we need or want in the world outside of ourselves. An overemphasize of external goals and rewards, on achievement, producing, consuming, competing and performing, all of which are essential elements of our marketing society instills within us the dangerous and misleading idea that life is not only about the pursuit of happiness and meaning, but also the accumulation of more and more things and possessions. As a result of that, many of us develop very early in life an identity that is based upon what we have, what gives our lives meaning like certain beliefs, values, viewpoints and opinions, a life style, prestige, social status, level of education, material possessions or outward appearance.
From that moment on we basically remain unchanged, do not question anymore our views and opinions since we are busy defending that which we stand for. It is then that our primary focus about change has developed: We seek to change that which we do not want or like, such as our jobs, of course wanting to earn more money, gain a higher degree of external success, find friends who are less annoying and make us feel better about ourselves, and live in a more stimulating and positive environment where we have the freedom to live our lives the way we want to.
What we fail to realize is that there is another kind of freedom, one which cannot be granted or taken away, nor is it dependent on the conditions and circumstances of our lives, but only can be generated from within:
More than the freedom from restraints, pressure, stress, inequality and obligation,
more than the capacity to exercise choice or free will, this is the freedom to
develop your potentialities and faculties to the highest degree possible, to think for yourself and become a creative, interested, happy, healthy, loving, assertive and alive human being.