Tough Freedom

Most of us have heard of “tough love.”  Did you ever hear of “tough freedom?”

Weak love consists of doing what other people want you to do right now, even if it hurts them later.

Tough love is the power to resist this, while offering plenty of support in ways that are actually helpful.

If tough love is about how to best treat others, then tough freedom is about how to best treat yourself.

Tough freedom is “tough self-love.”

Weak freedom is fake freedom, looking like liberty, while confining you in its consequences.

It consists of the temptation to do what feels most pleasant immediately, even if it brings you more (or much more) pain later.

One version of weak freedom consists of opposing the will of others automatically.

On one hand, obeying the will of others robotically is like being controlled by a leash.

Yet, rebelling against the will of others routinely is like being controlled by a pulley.

Wherever someone pulls, you have to go the other way.

Tough freedom, instead, usefully harnesses your true autonomy.

It provides the freedom to do what you actually want, NOT because someone wants you to NOR because they don’t want you to.

A second version of weak, unharnessed freedom consists of seeking mood-enhancing shortcuts.

This is a natural enough urge, but it has a big downside.

One of the major differences between positive habits and addictive habits centers on when the pleasure happens.

Addictive habits usually feel good now and not so good later.

That is what makes them addictive, because the person handles the cost of the habit with more of the same habit.

If something feels good now but lousy later, watch out.

Helpful habits are usually the opposite.

They may even feel unpleasant at first, but then produce delayed but profound satisfaction.

That sounds more like freedom to me.

Some of the arenas of such tough self-love range from physical fitness to spiritual practices, from eating less processed foods to engaging in new areas of study.

Freedom is a great gift.

Historically, human rights, including political freedom, are always hard-won at great costs in young and devoted lives.

Once freedom is obtained, the battle  begins to learn how to use it.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013 at 10:32 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to “Tough Freedom”

  1. Dr. Gene Bolognese Says:

    Excellent post this week!

  2. Dr. Rick Blum Says:


  3. Revilo Says:

    Hey Doc:

    As you told me, this post is most timely. Well for my life anyway! When I read this several thoughts came to mind. Your reference to substance abuse, in my opinion and in my experience, is right on the money. Approaching life always searching for immediate results or short cuts rather, is short sighted. This is why people use substances. This is why I have used substances. To a “Non-Blum” trained individual this can easily make more sense, and unfortunately there is immediate physical and emotional proof that this approach is best. No hard work, no pain, life is good, problems solved. The last sentence needs to followed by, “See ya in 6 months Doc if I make it!” Substance abuse is a form of cheating your way through life and unfortunately it comes as your friend but quickly and very quietly robs you of quality of life and makes it impossible to address any important issue that would pave the way toward a better life. I guess the saying “Nothing worthwhile comes easy” is and always will be accurate. If there is a problem, the only way to fix it is to face it, understand it and work hard to address it regardless of how painful or uncomfortable it is. Using substances is no more effective than placing a band-aid over a gunshot wound. How can you fix your problem, when the chemistry one is taking makes you feel like there is no problem? In reality the individual just keeps making the same mistakes over and over. Pain first and pleasure later works. Pleasure first quickly brings you back to pain and the pain never goes away. I just wanted to share my thoughts. Thanks………

  4. Dr. Rick Blum Says:

    Great thoughts — in AA, there used to be an expression that went “Alcohol gave me wings to fly, and then it took away the sky!” But, the sky is always waiting — we just have to learn how to build the right wings.

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