What does a sense of freedom mean to you? It may be an essential value, but how has your sense of personal freedom evolved over the years? What have you let go of, or taken on about freedom? Part of living the dream, means living free. If you felt 100% free to be exactly who you truly are, what would be different about who you show up as in all aspects of your life?

In the Living the Dream Virtual Summit, we spoke to Bruce Schneider, the author of the new book, “Uncovering the Life of Your Dreams.” This path to freedom is key — what it means, what keeps us from experiencing it, and how to pursue it. Bruce has written two other books, including the bestseller, “Energy Leadership.” He’s also the founder and chairman of the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC), the premier coach training school that has graduated over 10,000 students in 44 countries, and is a Master Certified Coach from the International Coach Federation (ICF).

In Bruce’s latest book, he defines the process of “uncovering”: from birth you are pure, and every experience, judgment, etc.… coats you with layers, building into a picture of who you think you are, and how you’ve projected yourself to be. You can chip away beyond all of this muck, and get to the core of who you are. You’re not trying to discover something outside of yourself, but you’re revealing the truth of who you are. What you project into the world is just an image, and is not reality. You then get to decide to be open to a new perspective.

WHAT IS THE FACADE AND WHY ARE YOU CONVINCED IT’S REAL?

If you ask people to tell you about themselves, they often say what they do for a living or the roles that they play. If you ask who people are behind that, the only answer needs to be “I am.” Everything beyond that is something you were taught, or conditioned to believe. As children, you learned how you should view the world, and what labels you should place on yourself. In high school, there are cliques — there is a need to belong or to identify with a group. Without that identity, you don’t know what to connect to. All of your experiences shape you, and you think the external circumstances are who you are. Bruce had a sense of being alone, or not feeling like he fit in anywhere. Through a near death car accident at a young age, he knew he was not alone, but that he didn’t belong. If you can look in the mirror and state simply, “I am,” then you can invent what comes next.

HOW DO YOU FACE THE FEAR THAT COMES UP WHEN YOU LET GO OF YOUR IDENTITY?

It’s like going to the gym — it takes a little pain, for the gain. You’re on the journey to get through the discomfort, and imagine what could be beyond the limitations, and live the life of your dreams. Rather than merely being content, you can choose to face your fears. You become afraid of making a change, as it might not be as good as where you were before. If you feel like life is good enough, that everything is just “fine,” there may be a pull that something is calling you, saying, “there must be more to life than this.” It takes a risk to move past the pain and the fear; it’s important to be motivated by the “why” that you want to do something. Some people may be happy and fulfilled; they may still feel like the risk is worth it to find out what will happen if they follow their dreams. You have to commit and be willing to stay on the path, even if it’s uncomfortable.

WHAT IS FREEDOM?

We often look at what freedom is not first, but everyone has their description of what it is for them. Most people describe it as a lack of responsibility, to do what they want without constrictions, and to be “who they are.” Bruce defines freedom as “free from the facade, the doubts, and the worries.” It’s a process. You can acknowledge there is something more to who you are, and choose to go down the path to uncover that truth. Being present, and in the moment, allows you to accept, and be aware of the experience and the exploration. Freedom is beyond words, and akin to unconditional love.

WHAT ARE THE LIMITATIONS TO FREEDOM?

Your attachments are the things that you’ve decided are important to you, and that you hold dear. You can be attached to money, goals, or emotional experiences. If you’re not in the moment, you are tied to the outcome, and thinking about the future. The desire to succeed, to achieve, or to make a difference in the world — these all have an attachment behind them. If you lose a job, or can’t attain a goal, your identity is shattered because you are limited by what you think should have happened. Freedom is the surrendering to truth. People resist letting go of the ego most of all. When you do that, you can allow a new version of ourselves to be uncovered.

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU GET RESISTANCE FROM THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU?

As you change, your friends and family may start to become uncomfortable with the new you and question the shift. They may try to pull you back into who they think you should be, or the “old you.” Along the path, you may alienate people, but you don’t have a choice. If people can’t accept who you are becoming, the relationship has to evolve or end. Living a facade, and living up to other people’s expectations of you can be draining physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It may be time to part ways, or you may be able to ask they accept you as you are now.

HOW CAN YOU BEGIN TO UNCOVER THE TRUTH?

Every way that you think you are is a part of the facade, and are all limitations. When you strip away what you are not, you can see the “I am” behind the definitions. You can begin to feel freer. The truth that resides within you — the intuition or the insight — will then become what feels right. You’ll experience an intuitive knowing, that you can’t ignore. Even if you feel resistant, or aren’t ready to look at it, you can’t deny it. The journey of uncovering the truth takes courage, and that can then become your goal, and a carrot to dangle to stop at nothing to get it.

WHERE CAN YOU BEGIN THIS JOURNEY?

Start a journal and note where you compromise or sell yourself short. This will create awareness of the ways your limit yourself or what you’re attached to. Look at how these decisions make you feel. If you had a goal to complete and expected a particular result, and it didn’t go the way you wanted, you can ask why you’re upset, or why you’re feeling vulnerable. Close your eyes, take some deep breaths, and just write out the answers. Ask the questions, and let the answers come to you, without trying to have your intellect figure out the solutions, which would only be based on the past.

Living the Dream Virtual Summit, a four-day virtual conference filled with extraordinary speakers and experts sharing their proven practices and exercises on how to let go of whatever’s holding you back from believing in yourself, is NOW open. Visit LivingTheDreamSummit.com to register or purchase an All Access Pass.

Written by Bridget Baker

Photo Credit: Rob Bates, Unsplash.com