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We’re All Searching for the Wrong Kind of Freedom

I don’t care about things.

I like money, but it’s never been a motivator.

Fame and notoriety are shallow and meaningless (maybe we should think of these more as tools. They’re certainly not virtues). This has been a large and consistent misunderstanding of my work. My detractors believe I do this work for attention.

I’m not in search of comfort or an easy life. This is why I don’t take many vacations (though this is also NOT a virtue).

I want freedom.

Full stop.

  • Freedom to take on responsibility.
  • Freedom to pursue excellence.
  • Freedom to find meaning.
  • Freedom to love.
  • Freedom to be authentic.

The farther I travel from the shackles of societal conformity, the stronger this desire for freedom becomes.

And as I am in no way representing that I have all the answers to these pursuits, one thing has become clear: external freedom is impossible without internal freedom.

Freedom From Ourselves

What is internal freedom?

It’s freedom from our emotions and feelings.

We allow our lives to be dictated by emotions and feelings in every aspect of our lives.

We buy into the lies of postmodern propaganda by believing our emotions are real and that the tools we’ve been given over two millennia are nothing more than power constructs.

You see this in the societal distancing from religion. You can disagree with the existence of God, but you can’t argue the Bible (and most other religious texts) are the most incredible guides to living a healthy and successful life ever written.

The deeper I dig into the Bible, the more I realize what our ancestors were trying to teach us; external freedom is impossible without internal freedom.

“Personal excellence is the ultimate rebellion.”

~ Andy Frisella

Karl Marx wrote,

“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

This is the biggest crock of bullshit ever written by the godfather of control mechanisms…communism (and I know what I’m saying; I don’t need a history lesson).

And this is being shoved down our throats by our schools, political leaders, and media companies all over again as if this system has ever produced a positive outcome.

If we allow our emotions and feelings to dictate our actions, we can be controlled:

  • We can be sold more crap we don’t need to “fit in.”
  • We will follow orders without question to “do our part.”
  • We will believe lies to avoid “pain.”

When you relinquish control to your emotions, you become a slave to them.

And every current societal norm encourages us to buy into the captivity of our emotions.

We reward bullshit narratives, such as I’m:

  • Not appreciated,
  • Disrespected,
  • Unwanted,
  • Misunderstood,
  • Targeted,
  • Unheard,
  • Incapable, or something other emotion-fueled nonsense.

We treat those around us as combatants in some delusional power struggle, always looking for a reason to be offended. And if we’re offended, we’re justified to be both victim and disciplinarian simultaneously.

So we find offense everywhere, searching for someone to offload our insecurities, emotions, and internal bullshit onto:

  • “You can’t use that tone.”
  • “You can’t say that.”
  • “You can’t wear that.”
  • “You can’t hang out with that person.”
  • “You can’t listen or watch that person.”
  • “You can’t…”
  • “You can’t…”
  • “You can’t…”

Our emotions are an excuse, a crutch…they’re the reason we’re mediocre.

Mediocrity is my hell.

…and so many people today are completely comfortable being mediocre.

Instead of becoming hard, strong, and secure, we say, “Words are violence.”

Words aren’t violence. Violence is violence.

Ever get punched in the face? Has a grown man ever run through with max aggression? Or how about war? Shit…

How many veterans (or active soldiers) do you know that would say, “Words are violence?”

Flip it.

Ever find yourself in a situation where you need throat punch someone?

No?

Because you’re not willing to put yourself in those situations?

…or did you back down instead of standing up for yourself?

Freedom

You’re asking, what does this have to do with freedom?

Freedom is violent. It’s painful. It’s uncomfortable.

You have to fight for freedom.

Freedom is not easy, and no one will give it to you.

Most specifically, your emotions and feelings.

We must transition our perception of emotions and feelings to signals…not reality.

“Emotions are the engine of behavior, love, passion, desire, hate, fear, but the mind must steer our ship.”

~ Kerry Burnett

We must violently fight against the jailor that is our emotions.

Do you think there isn’t a small amount of violence in dropping your body into a 49-degree ice bath?

My emotions scream against the pain and discomfort of the cold.

My mind tells those emotions to shut the fuck up…violently.

“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.”

~ Oscar Wilde

Freedom the Wrong

I’ve always wanted to help people…inspire people…give them hope.

It’s rocket fuel for my soul.

Except I’ve been going about it the wrong way.

I want to help people, but until recently, I was still captive to my emotions, feelings, and insecurities.

This doesn’t work.

External freedom is impossible without internal freedom.

You cannot help without first helping yourself…not over the long term.

…and I get it; it’s scary to look into the dark places, especially when that dark place might exist inside of us.

Then I was reminded of this exchange between Lex Fridman and Jordan Peterson

“If you gaze into the abyss long enough. You see the light, not the darkness.”

~ Jordan Peterson

That light is freedom from our emotions.

Freedom for our soul to become exactly that which we were meant to become.

This is our life’s work.

Why were we put here? Not eat donuts, vegetate on Netflix, and do as we’re told. I know that for sure.

“Personal excellence is the ultimate rebellion.”

~ Andy Frisella

The journey for internal freedom, freedom from our emotions and feelings, is a journey into personal excellence.

Personal excellence is going to mean something different for all of us. We each have to decide what that looks like.

And the only path forward is freedom.

The Five Internal Freedoms

This is a work in progress for me, but I’d like to share it as a tactical construct by which you can start building your plan for internal freedom.

Every day, I’m working to make incremental improvements on five internal freedoms:

  • Physical,
  • Emotional,
  • Relational,
  • Financial, and,
  • Psychological.

Physical

I work out every single day. Not every day is a heavy deadlift day or a 10-mile run. But I am using my body every day.

Physical fitness is a competitive advantage in life and business.

This is the easiest competitive advantage you can give yourself.

There is no excuse.


Also, sex doesn’t count in this category. You should have regular and vigorous monogamous sex with something you care about as often as possible. However, sex falls into the Relational category as physical as it might be…

Emotional

While this entire essay makes the case that you need freedom from your emotions and feelings, there is no getting around that being part of who you are.

You will always have emotions, which is a good thing. As Kerry Burnett said above, emotions are our engine.

The work in this category is becoming more in tune with your emotions. Understanding what each emotion feels like, the impact that emotion has on you physically, mentally, and spiritually, and what triggers each emotion.

Relational

I’m still working on this one, but as I have it framed now, it’s the impact interactions with other humans have on our emotions and psyche.

Why could my ex-wife and best friend say the same thing to me, and I get murderous in one instance and appreciative in the other?

How do we cultivate more positive emotions and thoughts out of relationships?

We are social creatures. We don’t just want connection; we need it. Freedom from the negative aspects of relationships we other humans (and expectations of other humans) feels important.

Financial

This one is easy. We must make money.

I know what you’re thinking, “Ryan, money is the root of all evil.”

Sure. Money doesn’t solve all your problems.

However, money solves money problems.

“There is no nobility in poverty! I’ve been a rich man, and I’ve been a poor man, and I choose rich every fucking time!”

~ Jordan Belfort

If you’re living each day wondering how and when you’ll ever get ahead or where your next dollar will come from, you’ll never defeat your emotions. You’ll never be free…

We don’t need all the money in the world.

We need enough money to escape the willpower pull of not having enough money. If you’re not making that much money yet, get to work.

As a four-time executive and now founder and CEO of Rogue Risk, I’ve been responsible for hundreds of salaries. I can say unequivocally I love paying people who work hard and add value.

But a salary will never be enough (unless you’re in sales).

Figure out how much money you need to make and learn to invest…in stocks, real estate, angel investing, and crypto…start a t-shirt shop on the side…any company that gives you shit for being entrepreneurial on the side doesn’t understand the game.

You can’t shirk your day job (in fact, you must crush your day job), but financial freedom is understanding what you want in life and getting after it.

Even if that is a Bugatti.

Psychological

Your head is filled with garbage.

Some of which you put there. Most of which was shoved into your brain by parents, teachers, friends, and other well-meaning people who don’t understand freedom.

Psychological freedom is having the power to think for yourself.

It’s giving yourself the freedom to not giving a fuck what other people think.

It’s downloading the ideas of past and present thinkers and coming up with your conclusions.

It’s trusting your instincts.

Being comfortable enough to let your mind wander into dark places so you can find the light.

I’ve found the best way to find psychological freedom is to consume the work of those who already have it:

Contemporaries

This is a good list to start with…

  • Jordan Peterson
  • Joe Rogan
  • Andy Frisella
  • Ed Mylett
  • Andrew Tate
  • Bari Weiss
  • Michael Malice
  • James Altucher

Dead

  • Marcus Aurelius
  • Viktor Frankl
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Yung Pueblo
  • J.R.R Tolkien
  • Mark Twain
  • Ayn Rand

This should get you started…you’re welcome.

“When you read, don’t just consider what the author thinks, consider what you think.”

~ John Keating (Robin Williams) in Dead Poets Society

The Rub

There is no way to be perfect in this endeavor. To hold yourself to that standard is selfish.

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

~ Albert Camus

Freedom is an aspiration.

We’ve forgotten that here in America.

Better put, freedom is the pursuit of the ideal.

There is no absolute freedom.

But to pursue freedom…oh…to pursue freedom, that feels like time well spent.

…for if you achieve it, only if it will be gone for a minute, and you’ll be back on the journey.

External freedom is impossible without internal freedom.

Each step is a little more free…each step a little closer to God.

There seems no nobler pursuit.

…and if you get lost, I’m here.

This is the way.

Hanley.

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