The definition of a ‘hedge’ according to my handy dandy American Heritage dictionary is to ‘enclose or bound with’ – I was thinking today about boundaries and how Imperative Thinking has paralyzed me in many personal relationships. I was pondering how to flee from my own inability to let go of control and realized (had an awareness) that the more meaningful something or someone is to me, that is the area where I am tempted most at hedging on freedom. Pause for a moment and reflect upon that~
First and foremost on my mind, I thought of marriage. I thought of my initial views and immature beliefs about getting married versus where I am at today, 18 years after saying ‘I Do’ – I definately started out with a Cinderella Complex and believed in the fairy-tale of falling in love, getting married, purchasing our first home and starting a family. For me, it was ALL about the wedding and I soon learned that the wedding day was symbolic of a choice, as I believe most of us do, and represented the ‘least amount of work’ versus being married and building upon a commitment. Most people tend to get married with the unrealistic expectation that their union will be the core of their present felicitous life and a basis for their future happiness. Most couples end up trying to force their partner into a pattern of choices that reflect selfish thoughts and needs. Many husbands and wives make their spouse out to be their “Jesus” ~ expecting them to fill the voids, to be the answer to all of their questions, to be their other half, or as has been said in the movies….to complete them. The freedom and success in a marriage comes when we aren’t fearful of losing our own happiness when we live out our own lives first, and then seek first to understand our partner, before being understood ourselves. When I look at the qualities of people in successful long-term relationships (marriages) that have stood the test of time, I come to the insightful and precious realization that no one was controlling, and there were no hedges surrounding them.
Expectations are wonderful, but can be so unrealistic. One of the best gifts ever given to me came from the result of being in a loving marriage- and that was the creation of our child. As I was taking my walk this evening, my thoughts turned to my 17 year old daughter. I began to muse about the high expectations I set for her and questioned whether or not that had to do with the fact that I wanted to be deemed as a successful parent?? I asked myself to consider if the demands I have made on her surrounding very specific behaviors and attitudes since she was old enough to understand, had more to do with me, than with her? I always believed that I have let her have choices, but when it comes right down to it, the choices were more to do with the plans I had for her, versus the plans she has for herself. This realization in my thinking has brought me to the place where I can say my actions caused a lot of power struggles. What must have been behind my fears was my overwhelming desire for her to succeed. I took control and my imperative, controlling approach to this style of living has only served to make things worse. But now I know better, and we cannot know, until we know.
Controlling breeds contempt and frustration. Both have been alive and well in my spirit and in our home. Sometimes our best intentions cause us to turn to coercion amongst our spouses and children, which demeans their human dignity. I now understand why I have been so frustrated.
In Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, the definition of freedom states:
1b. the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action;
1e. the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken.
To be free from Imperative Thinking and to stop planting hedges around myself and others is to realize that liberation lies in the process of making choices. We all have choices. Choices, good and bad, have consequences. I can choose to continue to be an Imperative Thinker, or I can choose to be liberated and flee from the boundaries that hold me back. This freedom to enjoy my closest and personal relationships is worth it, because there is no greater gift than to evolve into a lovely, LOVING human being – not a lovely human doing. Doing controlling behaviors surely repels us from one another. It allows us to allow others to be who they are and we become accepting. What a privilege it is to understand this for myself, and be able to offer it to others.
I have learned that freedom is not just for relationships between people – but is important for ME! Inwardly generated freedom allows me to respond to people and circumstances appropriately, genuinely and openly. This is MY choice. And today, it is what I yearn to embrace, and submit to becoming better at. Submission – now, heck, there is a choice! For, again, to reiterate, there are always choices and consequences, but when I allow freedom to guide my thoughts for myself and for others, I will always have options. Options are good and they provide us with an opportunity to be influential, rather than a Freedom Hedger.
So, today, is it possible that you, too, need to trim your hedges? Cut them back or dig them up? Or maybe prune them into a beautiful topiary that others can enjoy- who knows what your mind can conceive when you are fleeing control- The first step is to just become aware, then willing, and then find the courage to let go. I would love to know ‘how’ your pruning goes……