Recognising and Removing ‘Shackles’

Recognising and Removing 'Shackles'


What are ‘shackles’? Addictions, debts, rules, bosses, overbearing parents or partners, dead-end careers, being attached, feeling misunderstood, deprived, like a victim of your life rather than the creator of your life.

Certainly, all of the above can be shackles. But they’re also choices. And, though these are the big shackles we all speak of, it’s the shackles that are not recognised as shackles, that are the most dangerous. And they can be best summed up in one word – Habituation.

If we’re not aware that we’re the absolute creators of our own lives, then we are completely open to having our choices taken from us – by society, any and all people, and any and all situations.

Here are some examples that, if you recognise yourself in any of them (and we all have at certain times), you can be sure you are ‘asleep’ and living via rules you didn’t make, dreams you don’t believe in and conventions that are followed simply because…well… “that’s just what we’ve always done,” – possibly one of the most misguided, overly used sentences in history. A better classification for it is, in fact, ‘excuse’. An excuse for sleepwalking through life.

Example One – Labelling Relationships

Many people have relationships they think of as shackles, and they are correct, as this is what many relationships become. But the shackle is never the relationship, or the people involved. The hidden shackle is the Label placed on relationships and on people. And, most often, we do not even print, or draw our own labels; we simply take them off society’s free shelf of previously made labels.

And this kind of label shopping, is as much of a habit as buying only Chanel or Louis Vuitton because the ego is enlarged by the perception of the brands.

Most Popular Label – Ownership. Washing Instructions – Can only be washed in owner’s machine. Must not tumble dry without permission from owner. Iron only under supervision of owner.

We act out roles in our relationships as dictated by the label. Parent. Wife. Husband. Child. Friend. Stranger.

But what do these labels mean? Nothing. They’re words. Take all the meaning away from the words, and they’re simply sounds. Start again with your own labels.

Parent – soul mate. Wife – soul mate. Husband – soul mate. Child – soul mate. Friend – soul mate. Stranger – soul mate. All equal of unconditional love.

And what does this mean, within the daily context of our lives? If we strip back all the layers of rules and labels, and live with direction only from our higher selves, we put love into the world, rather than jealousy, anger, insecurity. Labels, when used to create the illusion of safety to mask such emotions, promote only fear.


Wife, (depicted here as a common label), says to Husband – “Don’t go out with your friends…Don’t look at that girl…Don’t wear that shirt…”

Translation (as depicted here when Wife goes to therapy) – “I need you to be with me so I don’t feel insecure about myself. I need to make sure you don’t expose yourself to other women in case you leave me. I need you to fit within the image I have of a husband so other people admire me and what I have.”

Husband, (depicted here as a common label), says to Friends – “The Mrs won’t let me out tonight…You’ll understand when you have kids/get married/buy a house, we all get trapped…I don’t have any money to go out on the boat because the Mrs wants a new couch.”

Translation (as depicted here when Husband is forced to go to therapy), –“I’m using my wife as a reason to excuse my own lack of motivation. I’m trying to deflect your argument by shoving you into the same box I’m stuck in because I don’t want to admit that I’ve let someone else dictate my life. I’m scared of the reaction from my wife if I spend money on what I want to do.”

The running theme in this particular play, on automatic re-run every day around the world, is fear. And habitual responses. Habitual responses wrongly lead us to believe they are fine, normal, what everyone else says and feels. They lead us to believe we can’t behave, or feel, a different way.

In mindlessness, we don’t even feel the negativity slowly stripping our energy because it seems so normal. We experience irritation, boredom, feelings of being in a rut – turning into anger and depression. Even then, we think it’s normal because everyone goes through it. Everyone expects it. Everyone puts up with it.

It’s not normal. It’s habit. And it’s insanity.

Detangle the Shackle

Watch your thoughts. Watch your words. Observe your interactions. Are you asking someone not to do something, or to do something, for their highest and greatest good, or because of your own ego?

Do you regularly argue with your parents, partner, children, because they are asking you to sacrifice your highest and greatest good to serve their own ego?

When you observe them, all interactions become very clear. All intentions become very clear. This is interacting with ‘attention’ and ‘focus’ rather than mindlessly reacting, through habit, to each situation as if the outcome is already a foregone conclusion.

It never is.

The only foregone conclusion is the projection into the future from your ego. Which is an illusion.

If you continuously interact from a clear, silent space in your mind, with all your attention in the ‘NOW’, without labelling, the above scenario, and all others like it, are entirely impossible. Your higher self knows you can’t own anyone, and knows that they can’t own you. Your higher self directs you to act from love, and even if that means disagreeing, saying ‘No,’ or walking away, the intention is clear and will result in the best outcome.

View everyone with unconditional love. Dismiss labels. Dismiss how you think labels categorize people and situations. When you talk to people you love, meet new people, look at people you don’t know, don’t automatically think, “Married. Single. Mother. Lover. Dickhead.  Flirt. Boss. Hippy. Rich. Poor”. Think nothing, and allow the experience to unfold. It’s going to anyway. And when it does, you experience freedom from conditioning, freedom from fear, freedom from labels.

Try it…then observe the magic that happens when relationships are allowed to flow, as they’re meant to, free of shackles created by fear.

Example Two – The Television

Do you come home after work and turn the television on, automatically, with no thought? Do you eat dinner, on your own or with the family or whoever, and then sit down to watch television most nights? Do you thumb through the TV guide at the beginning of the week to make sure you don’t miss out on anything?

In and of itself, the TV is a wonderful device and we can get much enjoyment from watching and learning and being exposed to a wide variety of subjects. The TV isn’t the problem. It’s the habit.

And it is a habit. A vaguely irritating, often boredom inducing, anger inducing habit. You’re allowing your mind to be unconsciously filled with ideas that are, predominately, negative. It’s background noise. But dangerous background noise, programming and triggering responses in you – because you are mindlessly allowing it to.

And you don’t even notice the habit – because it’s so normal and everyone does it. If you do this most nights, you’re ‘sleepwalking’. If, in your mind right now, you’re defending the fact that this is what you do most nights, the very defending of it, is a habit, it’s your ego trying to hold on to the habit – one that keeps you safely ‘asleep’, safely confined to what everyone else does, safely brainwashed and fed via the media’s version of what society wants.

To wake up, it must be recognised that most information on TV is not what you want – it’s just a whole bunch of people telling you what you want, telling you their opinions – and often you believe them. And so they make a lot of money – and you gather a lot of shackles.

Detangle the Shackle

Put some music on, talk, jump around, be silent, sleep, read, star-gaze, sing, paint, write, laugh, have sex, go for a walk, meditate. Relax. Realise that what enters your mind from the TV, unconsciously, creates invisible shackles that take hard work and heart-ache to remove – because many of our ‘labels’, have come from the TV and media.

Watch children go from laughing to whinging in a second while being exposed to the ‘background’ noise of seemingly harmless, though negatively charged shows. Watch the laughter return when this is switched off and happy music is introduced into the room. Energy is everything, and you are responsible for the energy you create.

Don’t let the TV create your energy. YOU are the creator. To use a particularly crass term, but one that I love because it makes me laugh…take YOUR life by the balls and create what YOU want with it!

Then, there are no shackles. Internally. None. All shackles are self-clamped. If you question every thought – every thought that gives you even the slightest twinge of irritation – you soon realise that nothing external creates negative thoughts or feelings. Only YOU are creating the thought about the external stimulation, then you create the shackle, then the chaos that follows.

We are all free creators of our own experience.

Think about that sentence. We are all free creators of our own experience. Doesn’t it give you the most delicious feeling? Because…it’s true.

It’s an ongoing challenge for all of us, but once you start, there’s no turning back. The shackles simply fall away. Even when they return – and they will as we are constantly learning – you recognise them and flick them off easily, and with peace. They are always, and only, illusionary.

The results of thought-observation equate to complete freedom to be and do as you ARE.

And that’s why we were born.

Nicole Leigh West is the author of ‘The Gypsy Trail’ YA fiction novel, a Travel and Lifestyle writer,  Reiki Practitioner, Mentor and joyful creator of The Spiritual Room.

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