Freedom is subjective. So is personal growth.
Oh, how I love etymology …
Diving into the history and construction of words is a fabulous way to mine meaning. **My love of the inner world of words likely began with Hebrew.** I began to unpack its structures while living as an Orthodox Jew in my early twenties. As Hebrew was my second language, it was easy for me to plumb the intricate and intimate depth that lives within this ancient language. Not only does each word have a richness in meaning and history, but each letter does as well. Each Hebrew word is a world unto itself. Never two dimensional. Always at least three.
English is a bit of a different exploration, as many of the words we use regularly today have found their way into the English lexicon from various streams. In this way, each word may carry numerous meanings culled from differing contexts.
In this light, let’s look at the word freedom, and apply what we learn to our ongoing conversation on the importance of freedom with regard to our nation’s and our personal sovereignty.
Free comes from the Old English freo, then to Proto-Germanic friaz, followed by Old Saxon vri, and then Old HIgh German priy-a. The word embraces the notions of acting of one’s own will (not in bondage) and love. As a side note, the Hewbrew word for freedom, chofesh, encompasses notions of sin, speech, and peace.
As we consider not only what we mean when we advocate for freedom, but also what freedom actually looks like in real life, we realize there are many entry points into its depth and breadth.
Which is why it helps to take the time to explore and ponder.
When we rush to define or solve, we’re often tempted to believe or act on what we’ve already been taught.
This is not only short-sighted, but can be reckless and foolish.
Why not take the time to consider what we’re saying and what we’re meaning by the words we choose for our speech?
When we discuss and debate what freedom is, it just might help us consider its literal meaning as well as how that meaning will likely vary from person to person.
After all, when you think about it, the definition of freedom must be ultimately subjective — considerate of one’s personal life circumstances.
For example, for me freedom might mean personal sovereignty and my choice to, say, marry a woman. Whereas for a woman in Yemen, freedom may mean the opportunity to work outside of the home. For an imprisoned slave, it may mean emancipation.
In other words, we cannot clearly define freedom out of context.
Which leads me to wondering if we can ever objectively define anything. But let’s save that inquiry for another time.
My point is …
Given the state of the world today — the upheaval of so many governments, the unleashing of hate crimes, and the radicalization of so-called freedom fighters — it behooves us to consider deeply what freedoms are warranted, for oneself and for others.
I can make the same argument for defining self-growth.
Stay with me.
How we orient towards our growth depends upon the context of our lives — our history (possibly going back centuries) along with our present life conditions. To say that personal development means or looks any particular way is to diminish the depth and breadth of such an endeavor. Just like with freedom.
After excavating the etymology of the words self and development separately, a next step in any meaningful conversation might be to first recognize and acknowledge that both freedom and personal growth have value … for oneself and for others.
From here, let’s clarify and distinguish a possible definition of personal development in the context of living in the west. A first step to discerning what it might mean is to define the term as it relates to objectives.
For some, the objective of personal growth is wealth and for others it might be fame, a certain body, enlightenment, a better job, a new relationship. We might even organize the objectives into a few categories: physical well-being, emotional well-being, psychological well-being, mental acuity, worldly gains, relational success, and spiritual attainments or realizations.
Often these objectives overlap or get jumbled up in their implementation. Often people think they want one thing, only to find out that they truly want another. **Therefore, it’s wise to first determine exactly what you mean by personal growth — for you.**
Same is true for freedom.
Begin to search for the tools and techniques that are suitable for meeting your personal development objectives. This step is much easier once you get clarity on what your objectives are.
And still …
Shopping for personal growth tools and techniques can feel like walking into a Costco. There are so many options, brands, and prices. **They’re all shouting at you to buy them, assuring you that they are the best on the market.** They are often stacked with client testimonials and celebrity endorsements.
It can be daunting.
Taking the time to do your due diligence is critical when it comes to choosing your preferred tools and techniques.**
However, it is equally important, once you have chosen one, to give it time to work on you. So many seekers in the west function under the often unconscious assumption of quick fixes or fast results. But growth takes time — period.
So, once you are clear on your objectives, if you spend the time to do your due diligence, it is wise to give the tool, teacher, or method you’ve chosen an opportunity to work for you. Because, guaranteed, you will run into resistance at some point. **
Selfistry is designed to help people do both of these steps: to clarify their personal growth objectives and to discern which tools and techniques out there will help them accomplish their objectives.
It will also help practitioners adjust if they realize their initial objective might not be the deepest or truest or most relevant one right now. Similarly, they may have outgrown their previous objectives and are into a new phase of their lives.
Whatever the case, Selfistry will help you trudge through your resistance to staying with whatever program you have chosen when you want to quit.Let’s face it. It can get extremely crazy out there in the world of personal growth. Thus having a place to go and sort it all out is super helpful.
[*Become Your Self*](https://selfistry.com/program/become-your-self/) is Selfistry’s program specifically designed to help you organize your self-growth plan. The *[Know Your Self ](https://selfistry.com/program/know-your-self-live/)*program gives you a framework within which to understand yourself so that you know how to grow yourself.
I can’t help but wonder what the world would be like if we could orient our strategy for freedom in the same way that we are suggesting we orient our personal growth: to take the time to discern which freedom objectives are relevant for which peoples at any given time, and then to choose the programs, leaders, and governing agencies that are especially suited to bringing forth those freedoms.
No one size fits all when it comes to freedom or growth. But definitely a right for all to be free and grow.
It may seem like we don’t have enough time to go through such a process. But I would argue that we don’t have enough time to *not* do so. For without such clarity our efforts tend to be thwarted or wasted.
Unconsidered efforts to define or solve inevitably steal time, energy, and resources away from the sort of thoughtful exploration process I’m speaking to — a process that would surely bring forth better outcomes in the long term.