How To Set Yourself Free - Karen Salmansohn

How To Set Yourself Free

How To Set Yourself Free
One day, about 10 years ago, I miserably thought; “If I don’t do something about myself I’m going to be one of those mean old ladies who run out of their house screaming because some kid walked on her lawn.”

This was a time in my life where, after battling my weight for years, I was the thinnest I’d ever been. Since I also spent two hours a day in the gym I was also in the best shape of my life (never mind my secret pack-a-day habit).

My husband was making good money, so not only did I not have to work, we went on vacations at least twice a year. My two kids were happy, healthy and fun to be around. But I wasn’t. 

In light of everything I had I was miserable.

I was emotionally unhealthy (hence the obsession with my body). Because of that, I was always ready to either attack or defend. Obviously I was damaging my relationships, because who wants a major bitch around all the time? I convinced myself it was “everyone else” – but deep down I knew the truth.

One day I took a peek at that place—the place “deep down.” I had to. I knew I was drying up inside – so it was now or never.

poster sorry human mistake
Oh. My. God. If I thought I was a bitch, awareness is a bigger one. The moment you become aware of all the pain you’ve caused yourself and others…it’s overwhelming. You can really beat yourself up over the so called “damage” you think you’ve caused.

But I am here to tell you something very important. It’s so important it can save you years of misery. From guilt. From shame. From blame.

You needed to do what you did. 

I don’t care what you did. I don’t care if you accused, yelled, judged, lied, stole, cheated, attacked, messed up, quit, ran away…

You needed to do it.

This does not give you permission to go around hurting yourself or others from now on, but what happened in the past happened because you couldn’t control your impulses, even if it felt like you could. How do I know you couldn’t control them? Because you didn’t.

Why did you need to do what you did? Only you have those answers. And if you dig deep, you’ll find them. (They always have something to do with feelings of lack, by the way). Once you shine a light on those feelings you become aware.

Awareness means you can never go back and do that same thing again, not without knowing you’re doing it and why.

poster salsa some kindness
That’s how change happens. Maybe you’ll do that same thing ten more times, but if you’re vigilant in looking at what’s driving you, you’ll be doing it with more and more awareness. One day you’ll be so aware you won’t be able to do it again—any sense of wanting to will be gone.

This is what’s known as freedom.

But what about all the people you hurt in the process? Why did they have to suffer because you weren’t “there” yet?

Believe it or not, they received a gift from you. They had the opportunity to free themselves from all the feelings you brought up in them. Again, this isn’t permission to hurt others under the pretense that you’re actually helping them, but the truth is we need each other to grow.

Be kind to yourself. Become aware. Set yourself free.


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Denise Barry

Denise Barry is the award winning author of the children’s picture books, What Does the Tooth Fairy Do with Our Teeth? and Soap On A Rope. She’s currently working on a middle grade book titled Sweeney Mack and the Slurp and Burp Competition, so watch for that! She also writes a blog on her website called Raisin' Kids, for parents who want to raise kids who become adults, not adult children. Denise lives in Buffalo, New York with her husband and two kids. To learn more about her visit her website at

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