You probably have had or still have a student loan, a mortgage, or some credit card debt. The concept of a debt is easy to grasp, you borrow something from someone, and you have to give it back, with interests. If you don’t pay it back according to the agreement, you increase the debt, and hence the leverage against you. And if you have too many debts and you can’t pay them all easily, you get overwhelmed, stuck. A debt will keep you in line and working so you can reimburse it.
What do you think of all these things you have to do?
Submit a report by tomorrow, mown the grass, talk to your spouse about the kids’ education, gather the courage to finally ask for a raise or quit your job, read a dozen books to increase your skills, and probably more.
Each time you decide you should do something, whether you actually put it on your To-Do list or not, you make a contract with yourself (or someone else), that says that you will get it done in a reasonable amount of time. As the time goes by and until you fulfill the contract, you feel more and more in debt, and increasingly more stuck with all the items on the list.
These moral contracts might prevent you to plan a week-end trip the same way your financial debts can. You feel bad about yourself for not keeping up enough, so you increase the speed, try to fulfill more of them, so that maybe one day, they’ll all be done and gone.
There is no end
But the truth is, they’ll never be done. Just like your debts will never be completely reimbursed.
Simply because we grow comfortable with the pressure, we know we can go on with a comfortable amount of debt, so when we reduce the amount, we see all the possibilities that open right in front of us: a new TV, a new house, a new hobby, more holidays, some kind of “investment” or golden opportunity that nobody ever thought of.
Can you imagine yourself without debts?
Imagine yourself without any kind of debt, financial or moral, money you owe, or actions you should do for yourself or others. Try it for a minute or two.
You don’t have any debts.
You have done everything on your To-Do list.
If you’re anything like me, you feel free… and fricking scared!
Now that you don’t have any item left to check off your list, you are free to decide what to do, free to create and more.
And it is so overwhelming.
The first unconscious instinct is to try to go back to the previous situation: get more on your plate, start a dozen new projects, buy new stuff, etc. So that, ironically, the situation gets manageable again.
But you’ll keep running in circles.
The only way is to try again, and slowly get comfortable with the freedom.
The important thing to realize is that, while being in any kind of debt puts pressure on you, it also gives you a direction, as you “have to” get out of it, and you do what feels necessary to attain that goal. But being completely out of debt and of things “to do” is also very hard, because it puts you back in control of your actions and your time. Remember that from a very young age, we’ve been taught that parents, teachers, bosses control our time and actions. Even though we aspire to freedom, there is a price to pay.
The stereotype of the artist is someone completely broke, disconnected from the world and unaware of the basic workings of his society.
And in a way, it is true.
When creating, the artist disconnects himself from the debts and influences of the world in order to be completely free to be who he is, not what others expect him to be or to do in order to pay their debts. This freedom is necessary to produce great work of art as the concept of pure creation is disconnected from any feeling of debt to oneself.
If you are “in” the world, and struggling to create, take a look at all your debts, as they might keep you in “debt payment” mode whereas what you need is “free-flowing creation” mode.
Knowledge and action
You cannot act on your debts, unless you are aware of what they are. If you don’t already have a list, make one: write down everything that you feel obliged to do, or that you feel you should do. Anything that makes you feel some kind of guilt or shame if you’re not doing it.
Feel the pressure on you. Realize that whether you think about them or not, the pressure is always there.
Then, in your mind, try to get comfortable with a life without debts. The first time you probably won’t be, so each time you think about your debts, find one thing that’s great about a life without them.
As you review your To-Do list, either abandon the debts and pressure, or establish a plan to reimburse and fulfill them, whether it means talking to your spouse or boss, or hiring someone to paint a wall.
You’ll probably want to do both. Nothing’s stopping you but yourself.
What do you want?
It is a good thing to have lots of possibilities and things that you can do. But it’s better to be able to do them without being pressured too much so you can be open to new possibilities.
There are always new things to put on your list, but isn’t it better when there is nothing on it that prevents you from doing what is really important for you?
If you want to be free of these past debts, it is only up to you, and it starts now. What can you do today to walk on the path of freedom?