Whenever I begin writing, I always investigate the etymology of any focus words which are part of my story.
Fetter. A chain or manacle especially for the feet.
Unfettered. Literally to be released from the binding of the chain or manacle.
Life unfettered. A life lived free from restraint or inhibition.
To fierce self-care, I have added life unfettered as a focus, as a point of support for my life.
I don’t think of either of them as goals or destinations. Instead they are aspects of my life which I hold aloft for myself as reassurance that I have what I need to endeavor to live my best life.
What “best” is – well that’s a moment by moment experience as I learn and grow and take myself through the moments of my day.
What I do know is that my life has become unfettered. I am releasing both restraint and inhibition.
Restraints come from what I call the EBFJs. Expectation. Blame. Fear. Judgment.
Each of these in their own way fetter the motion of life.
Blame is usually something fettered to the past. Someone, something, some event, some version of you is responsible for your ill-fortune, your missed opportunity and your blame – you hold that some whatever liable. With your attention in the past, you are stuck, having trouble moving forward, seeing beyond the obstacles created with the backward motion.
Fear nails your attention in the future with whatever “what if?” that your mind and heart can dig up. Anxious, worried, overly-concerned, fear pushes you to take care of tomorrow today. Which is impossible. You can only take care of today now. And the motion of tomorrow is only available to you in the midst of its occurrence — tomorrow.
The way out of this impasse is to make your fear present now.
The question is: What am I afraid of now? Ask and feel into your heart now. Not tomorrow or next week. Your heart as it is right now.
Then ask: Is there anything I can do about this concern right now? You know from these questions the way and the why. Most importantly you get the Now of the issue. If the moment to address the concern is not now, put the issue on your back burner and trust yourself to address this at the right present moment.
Expectations come from judgment about how you must live your life or how the world will respond if you live your life in a particular way. Expectation is a hard razor edge to navigate.
Having awareness of possibility is not a bad awareness to have. However, to become frozen or stuck in the awareness such that other awareness is shut out – well, that’s not helpful to you. Stuck in expectation means that you have shut out the motion of life.
Expectation likes to have its way with the one-and-only road of its motion and will try to convince you of its benefit. Be wary of anything which wants to shackle you or fetter you.
Moving beyond expectation asks that you live in the balance between the known and the unknown. And again, that you trust yourself within the balance.
Judgement vs. Discernment
Judgment is an ancient motion which creates modern mayhem. For myself, I make a difference between discernment and judgment. Discernment is about feeling into and becoming aware of difference. Discernment works towards balance, alignment, and resonance.
Whereas judgment is a process of comparison where at least one element is found to be substandard, not up to par, beyond retrieval. Judgment in its worst forms tears down, denigrates, and disapproves. Judgment also forms boundaries between them and us, creating groups which are judged to be better than we.
Inhibition builds as we move to avoid whatever concern raised by our EBFJs. EBFJs hamper and impede the motion of life towards balance, alignment, and resonance.
Just the simple act of acknowledging the presence of EBFJs in your life has the effect of loosening their control over you and your ability to live life unfettered.
The biggest challenge of EBFJs is the desire to eliminate them all in one giant step or two. Then when this proves impossible, you judge yourself unworthy and fall back into the comfortable but fettered control of the EBFJs.
Small steps. That’s what’s called for. Not huge, sweeping changes which are gone in a month. Giant steps are ultimately not sustainable.
Small steps, one at a time, spread across the motion of your life will little by little bring you to living life unfettered.
Taking small steps may seem counterproductive. But one step today becomes another step tomorrow. Over time these micro motions produce bigger energy shifts just as a pebble thrown in the pond creates bigger and bigger ripples.
I know for me that it has been my willingness to take small steps which has made all the difference. But it has not been easy. My highly productive, quick-to-judge personality has a hard time seeing that perfection in the moment is not the goal nor the way past my shackles. In fact, the perfectionism and demand for high production to ensure my worth are both judgments and erroneous notions which are themselves fetters. Neither serve the balance, alignment, and resonance of my unfettered life.
To move beyond the chains of my EBFJs, I ask:
What hangs on which I can now let go?
A question meant to get directly to those restraints and inhibitions which are maintained by every EBFJ.
To move beyond, to find your next small step, ask:
In this moment, what hangs on that I can now let go?
Life Unfettered is one of the articles I have written on the personal aspects of growth through spiritual practice. To read more like this, check out What is Spiritual Practice?
To find my books, begin with my Amazon Author Page.