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Unfettering the Heart

Freedom is letting go of what no longer serves you. If something is consistently on your mind, it is stifling you, compromising your freedom. It’s hard to let go of past traumas, but that freedom makes the present so incredibly sweet.

When I teach my social justice course that focuses on conflicting paradigms in education, we discuss assumptions and expectations we hold for people. When assumptions and expectations headline your thoughts, you create a cage of delusion that becomes increasingly complicated and convoluted. These assumptions and expectations may pertain to relationships, jobs, family strife, and the like.

Recently, I experienced a situation in which my assumptions and expectations ran rampant. I made assumptions that a guy I was casually dating was dating other people. First off, my concern was irrelevant because we weren’t a couple. My assumptions led me to investigate the situation further through a dating app, and my honesty led me to admit it to him. I’d placed expectations on a relationship that didn’t exist. I wasn’t fully healed from my previous relationship that had resulted in an eviscerating breakup. Usually, I give myself ample time to recover from heartbreak, but this new guy was intriguing and too good to pass up.

As if catfishing him wasn’t enough, I continued to treat him as if he were my boyfriend, constantly placing expectations on him. Subconsciously, I yearned for that empty boyfriend role to magically fill, hoping to heal my still broken heart. I wanted the new guy to be the old guy. If he would just do this or that, my world would be perfect again. I realized that he would never fulfill those expectations, because he’s a completely different person. He’s an amazing, brilliant, witty person, but I spent so much time trying to control the situation that he grew tired of my antics. Retrospectively, I wish I could have let go of the past to experience the freedom of the present. He placed no expectations or pressure on me. When we were together, I felt unencumbered and uninhibited. It was exactly what I needed, yet I was blind to it.

Imprisoning yourself with assumptions and expectations can stifle more than your relationships. For me, my creativity suffers too. When I don’t experience freedom, I don’t read, I don’t write, and my teaching is mundane. As I’m emerging from this most recent delusion, organizing my thoughts in a sane, rational manner again, I’m realizing that freedom doesn’t intimate that you’re single and alone. You can be free with another person, but only if you’re free from yourself.

Take note of this moral: The only person you can control is yourself. If you maintain assumptions or create expectations, you cloak the true moment. Don’t miss your chance.

By: Anne Castagnaro

Anne Castagnaro is a teacher education professor, yoga and meditation teacher, and lifelong traveller based in Southern California. She earned a PhD in Education, but doesn’t restrict that knowledge to the elementary classroom. Instead, holistic education that grounds itself in life lessons pervades her teaching. Anne loves cats, veggie burritos, and dangly earrings. Find Anne on Instagram and her blog!

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