Advertising
Advertising

15 Signs You Are A Truly Free Person

15 Signs You Are A Truly Free Person

While it may mean something different for all of us, everyone savors the idea of freedom. We all have degrees of freedom in our lives, but for most people, freedom feels somewhat unattainable. Even if we have financial freedom, we may not have emotional freedom (e.g. depression or anxiety). If we have freedom in our careers, we might not have physical freedom (e.g. diseases and poor health). It’s difficult to get all the components in place. So if you’re wondering just how “free” you are in your life right now, see if you match any of these traits of a truly free person.

1. You dread nothing

It’s hard to feel free when you wake up every morning and a wave of dread washes over you – dread about having to go to work, dread about certain troubled relationships, etc. Free people rarely experience this feeling. Their either eliminate what doesn’t suit them, or they change their perspective about it.

2. Your habits serve you

There’s a difference between habits and addictions. A truly free person will have habits that they’ve consciously cultivated, like getting exercise in a way that they enjoy. These are’t self-damaging habits, like smoking, eating fast food, or spending time with toxic people. Free people have recognized how these things disempower them.

Advertising

3. You make your own decisions

If you feel restricted from making the decisions you want, it’s especially difficult to feel free. A free person will ignore negative judgement from others because they know what’s best for themselves. They also avoid handing too much power over to people with overbearing and forceful personalities.Free people don’t give in to peer pressure and meaningless obligations that don’t benefit them.

4. You are full of energy

A lack of energy is a barrier to your physical freedom. So those who are truly free will expend their energy in ways they enjoy. They are not constantly running out of energy, but rather, always recharging. This includes very different activities for different people, but the overall affect of feeling energized is the same.

5. You believe in your abilities

If you believe you are capable of achieving your goals, you free yourself up to actually move toward those things. If you are skeptical of your abilities, you feel unable to try, or like you don’t have the right to try Free people are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and play life to their own advantage. They don’t waste time berating themselves over mistakes, and can view them as a learning experience.

Advertising

6. You are financially comfortable

This isn’t based on the amount of money you earn. Rather, it is dictated by your feelings toward money. Free people may live on very low salaries or very high salaries. Regardless of their actual income, they afford what they need and feel stable instead of constantly stressed. A free person will not feel the need to overspend in order to reach fulfillment.

7. You ask for help from others

It may seem counter-intuitive, but true freedom usually involves help from others. Truly free people will ask for advice in order to better themselves, or ask for direct assistance without feeling embarrassed. They recognize that refusing help from others is a personally-imposed restriction to their freedom. Essentially, free people are not governed by pride.

8. You have free time

Obviously, true freedom involves some free time! Even if your schedule is packed, it can be packed with things you decided and wanted to do. This can also be considered free time because you are living as you intend to live. A free person will divvy up their time into work and play without overindulging in either.

Advertising

9. You know yourself

Because freedom involves doing what you want and living how you wish, knowing yourself is a precursor to freedom. Free people know enough about their likes, dislikes, values, standards, and goals to actually attain freedom. Living by another’s standards is a kind of spiritual laziness, and is a barrier to freedom that some may not recognize.

10. You are independent

Just as freedom involves asking for help when you need it, independence is another significant component. Free people don’t feel needy or unstable when they’re alone. They also don’t depend on others for their basic needs, like food and clean clothes. (Yes, free people still need to do their laundry). Basically, free people are not hindered by a sense of helplessness, which prevents people from caring for themselves.

11. You are physically healthy

A truly free person won’t find themselves surrounded by prescription pills, medical bills, and junk food. A free person will take their health into their own hands and improve their bodies the best they can when a health problem arises. They won’t allow negative addictions to creep in and hold their health hostage.

Advertising

12. You laugh

Why does laughing make you free? Because it’s your primary right to enjoy yourself and your life. Someone who doesn’t laugh is missing out on the simplest and most basic form of freedom. A truly free person will take time out for laughter because they know they deserve it.

13. You fulfill your needs

By now, you’ve realized that your needs must be met, and this is something that free people consciously monitor. Free people don’t wait for their needs to be met by others; they assess them on an ongoing basis. They rest when they need to, call a friend when they need to, and even push themselves to work harder when it’s the best thing for them.

14. You don’t let others hold you back

Freedom involves healthy boundaries between you and others. The opposite of this is codependency, which causes people to rely excessively on others for their self worth. Truly free people don’t derive their self worth from external people or events. They judge themselves according to their own reasonable standards, and stay on track with their goals regardless of the behavior of others.

15. You have fun

If you’re truly free, you spend a lot of your time in a state of joy and contentment. You’re not anxiously anticipating the future or a better day. You’re not waiting for permission to enjoy something. You are simple living in the moment, and savoring the twists and turns that come with life.

Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

More by this author

tackling self esteem One Solid Practice for Tackling Low Self-Esteem banksy street art 15 Life Lessons From Banksy Street Art That Will Leave You Lost For Words self-improvement books 25 Self-Improvement Books That Will Make You A Better Person stick new habit 4 Reasons You Just Can’t Stick With A New Habit 8 Fall-Themed Wedding Favors to Delight Your Guests

Trending in Communication

1 How to Deal With Negative Thoughts (the Healthy Way) 2 How to Cope With Empty Nest Syndrome and Be Happy Again 3 How to Increase Motivation When You’re in a Slump 4 7 Hardest Languages to Learn For English Speakers 5 8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on October 22, 2020

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

What Makes People Poor Listeners?

Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

Advertising

I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

How To Be a Better Listener

For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

1. Pay Attention

A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

Advertising

I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

2. Use Positive Body Language

You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

According to Alan Gurney,[2]

“An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

Advertising

Be polite and wait your turn!

4. Ask Questions

Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

5. Just Listen

This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

6. Remember and Follow Up

Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

Advertising

Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

  1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
  2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

8. Maintain Eye Contact

When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

Final Thoughts

Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
[2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
[3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
[4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

Read Next