Two Different Freedoms

Freedom is an important subject. It is something that we all yearn for and seek in someway. Freedom is also the subject of idealogical and political mischievousness.

We can easily get bogged down and messed up on this subject.

What Is Freedom?

According to Dictionary, freedom is:

  • the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint.
  • exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.
  • the power to determine action without restraint.
  • political or national independence.
  • personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery: a slave who bought his freedom.

Notice how often freedom is presented as freedom from. Only one item on the list the third is freedom to.

Many people think they are the same thing but actually they are not.

Understanding Freedom From

Freedom from, which means freedom from restraint, has been the most sought freedom of the human race.

Slavery has been used for centuries to harness the energy of people to serve the social and economic agendas of ruling classes. Slavery often became socially sanctioned when people, either individuals or groups, were conveniently labeled as bad or deficient. Slavery treats people as children to be controlled, contained and used. It has the additional effect of shifting the investment of social and economic resources to some and not others.

It usually prevents social and economic mobility. No one want to be on the short end of oppression.

What Is Freedom To?

Freedom to is the forward looking freedom. It is the freedom to make our dreams come true. Freedom to is freedom of choice and freedom of expression. It includes the freedom to invest our time where we think best and the freedom to be fully committed to what we are doing. When we feel free to, we feel whole and alive.

It is a wonderful feeling.

Freedom to is the adult freedom. It puts us in charge of our destinies. It is the freedom being discussed when people talk about life without limits. Freedom to has some requirements. It demands the investment of time and resources of all kinds into the personal development of an individual.

Important Differences In Freedom From And Freedom To

Freedom from activates in us a desire to escape. When we are primarily oriented toward freedom from we may develop an escapist way of life.

Although freedom from oppression is wonderful, that freedom does not automatically translate to a life we want to live. That desired life requires skills and effort. Freedom to requires the investment of time, energy and resources but also requires wisdom, patience and determination.

Those necessary personal attributes may not necessarily be apparent when suffering from restriction. Not realizing the personal demands of the freedom to life can lead people to disappointment when freedom does not provide instant rewards.

Social Impact Of Different Freedoms

When some people benefit from the investments to live a life of freedom to, then resentment will naturally occur in those who are not as supported.

However, there is a dark side to these freedoms:

  • freedom to can come at the expense of someone else.
  • lack of any restraint has negative implications. Being unrestricted can turn into greed.
  • freedom purchased on someone else’s back is not freedom but a sophisticated form of oppression.

Resolving The Difference Between The Two Freedoms

Oppression can only exist if some do the work of others. To resolve the difference between the two freedoms we need to:

  • acknowledge all the work that needs to be done in order to sustain us
  • acknowledge the support that each person needs in order to grow into their best self.

Only when we are totally honest about what we need to live and thrive can we create a cultural life that is fully life affirming for each person.

I think it would be a great idea!

Image by Matt Silveria on Unsplash

About Maria Hill

Maria Hill is the founder of Sensitive Evolution. She is the author of The Emerging Sensitive: A Guide For Finding Your Place In The World. In addition, she has created the immersive Emerging Sensitive Program using cultural and personal development frameworks to help sensitive people master their sensitivity and turn it into the asset it can be. She also offers The Magic Of Joy program for quantum healing and the Emerging Sensitive Community focused on living in the world as a sensitive person and navigating the challenging cultural shifts of our times. She is a longtime meditator, reiki master, student of alternative health and Ayurveda. Maria is a Certified Theta Healer and certified in Spiral Dynamics. She is an abstract painter whose portfolio can be found at Infinite Shape and also very interested in animal and human rights and the environment.


  1. Aseems on May 17, 2013 at 11:01 pm

    Very insightfully written … As always Maria, you have outdone yourself.

    I still grapple in moving from to to, as a believe the majority of humanity does. What is positive is that at least we are aware of this.

    God Bless HSPs

    • Maria on May 18, 2013 at 7:56 am

      Thanks, Aseem!

      It is a challenge. We have complex forces in our world, and they are not always easy to handle. I read once that Buddhists value being constructive above all else. I happen to agree. I hope this article makes it a little easier for everyone.

      All the best,

  2. Judith on July 4, 2018 at 10:50 am

    Your posts have returned to my email box after a long break. I am especially grateful for this blog about Freedom…one if the qualities that inspires me most. Your astute distinction between To and For gets to the root of our individual responsibility to understand and express this important difference. We as individuals must mature to manifest and stand up for the greatest good and with constant awareness of your words about true Freedom

    • Maria Hill on July 4, 2018 at 10:56 am

      Hi Judith,

      It’s nice to hear from you and happy 4th! There is a relationship between freedom and responsibility, which engenders trust and wisdom. I hope we continue to work at embracing the responsibility part.

      All the best,