It may seem a bit trite to answer in this way, but if someone is asking the question, then they are really 99% of the way to finding the answer. Most people do not consciously ask themselves this question, either because they already have such a sense of freedom about being themselves, or because they are so trapped inside their life in some way that they just not aware it is possible.
Perhaps the bigger question that underlies this is how one can trigger a sense that the notion of the freedom to be yourself is actually at the heart of a person’s real sense for meaning in their own life and what they do with that life.
Many people, especially those who live very busy lives, would think that the idea of questioning things like this is something that they might do in retirement or is a question for people who have too much time on their hands.
The reality is, that many people drift through their life for good but demanding reasons, and the question of looking at oneself and what the freedom to be yourself means never arises, not through an issue of time, but through an issue of not thinking that individual is in control of their life enough to be able to ask such a question.
The other part of the equation that is important to see, is that many people do not want you as an individual to be free enough to be yourself. There may be many reasons for this, but the main one in most circumstances is that as an individual it is much easier to control you in some way if you do not have that freedom.
There’s also a slight caveat often put up that there is no such real thing as freedom to be yourself, largely because of the implications in terms of how you might express that freedom if it were total. This is a completely false argument, and one that is usually steeped in other people’s need to control you as an individual.
For many people who are alcoholics or have been heavily affected by alcoholism, this need to have the freedom to be oneself goes to the very heart of recovery, and of the need for some awakening living of a spiritual way of life. The awakening of a spirit within is at the heart of all 12-step programs, as well as at the heart of many good religious and spiritual teachers if not all religions.
The freedom to be is an unconditional freedom, that is often distorted by a number of pressures, both parental and societal in nature. An individual who is an alcoholic or has a drinking problem and seeks recovery is faced with a very stark choice once sober. Whatever the underlying issues in terms of the individual’s drinking or alcoholism, at some level it soon becomes clear to them that if they are to stay sober they need to be able to live at peace with themselves in some way shape or form.
This need for self acceptance may often only come at a felt level to begin with, but soon becomes the most important reality of their lives. An alcoholic who gets sober will at some level begin to see that they have a wide range of emotional turbulence that has driven the drinking.
The recovery process that takes place in groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and in treatment centers should focus primarily on helping an individual to see that these emotional drives have driven the drinking, and that recovery in terms of staying sober is about addressing these emotional states.
An individual staying sober needs to be able to live at peace with themselves. This may take time but the journey gives them the tools of the process to do so.