How to Be Truly Free

In this video post for Looking Glass Lane, I examine how people allow their own conditioning to define them.

I’ve selected a passage from Paulo Coelho’s book, Veronika Decides to Die (and soon to be released movie), one that made me think… do we realize how much of what we consider our SELF is really based on external factors? Sometimes, it requires breaking out of your every day pattern… like Veronika inadvertently did by trying to kill herself and ending up in an insane asylum… that allows you to taste freedom!

Practical Mommy is Ria Sharon. Click the links for Practical Mommy’s recommendations for travel car seats, affordable and fun diaper bags (skip hop bag), and the best-selling crib brand, Da Vinci Crib.


  1. While working earlier this week I wrote a piece that centered on the thought that, sometimes, the most difficult thing to do is to just be yourself. While listening to your vlog, Ria, I found the sentiment echoing in my head.

    Personally, I find I can be two kinds of crazy. One is an undesirable kind. It happens when I define myself with comments from others that are generally negative or limiting — things such as “That won’t work.” “Don’t get too excited.” etc. Like Veronika, I can feel boxed in or at the end of my rope.

    Then, there is the desirable kind of crazy. This comes from hearing supportive and encouraging comments, “That’s so creative.” or “You should try that.” Those comments fuel my welcome craziness.

    I am now thinking that, given your vlog, I’ll be choosier about the folks whose voices I allow to take up residence in my head!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Diane. What a great point… once we acknowledge that a lot of external factors influence our self-image, we can be conscious of what messages we choose to hear!

  3. Ria,
    Your video blog really spoke to me. How often we forget who we really are and let outside influences shape us and change us. It is important to take a step back and allow our true raw selves to shine. And you are correct, we all have a little bit of crazy in us. I know I do and there is nothing wrong with that. Thanks for allowing me to reflect to my true beautiful self and radiate my silly, crazy self!

  4. How I love these posts! I can’t wait to see more.

  5. Ria-
    Great thought-provoking post. Thanks for doing what you do!

  6. I like this: “I do not allow others to influence my thinking unless it is positive or uplifting.” ~Louise Hay

  7. Ria,

    You know how much this lets me off the ‘crazy’ hook?! Such a great question to ask. Sometimes I think people relax so much more around people who fit nicely into boxes. Their vehicle choice matches their hairstyle choice and their dog breed choice. . . .

    But who wants everyone to relax around them?! If you want people to be curious about you, let yourself be curious about things, right?

    Love this,


  8. yes. in the way of zen allen watts says that so much unhappiness/dysfunction comes from the battle between social convention and repressed desires.

    … i think society asks us to repress our inner freedom and following/listening to our intuition in favor of following social convention in an attempt to keep order. this actually creates MUCH chaos in the world and in many people’s INNER worlds… 🙂

    neat paulo is asking this very question recently in his video as well. he certainly explores it in this book. thanks for pulling this out ria so we can talk about it a bit more. i think there’s a blend to what makes up who i AM. who i am at a soul level varied slightly in the way i represent this soul level via what i am around… but still i choose so much of what i let myself be around and influenced by, ya know? so it just adds something. can take away too for sure.

  9. Great stuff, thank you so much!

  10. Ria,
    Again, this mimics my internal thought pattern for the past few months!
    Agree with you Suzanne, that “society asks us to repress our inner freedom….in favor of following social convention in an attempt to keep order” I was just saying that to Greg a couple weeks ago and how much it bothers me, and that I seem to run the opposite direction.

    Society has many “rules” that keep us from expressing ourselves freely.
    To break from this, is true freedom from insecurity, and a wealth of other ails.
    To think for and by one’s true self and live by that is freedom. I have been obsessed with images of birds for the past couple of years and found since then, I am aware of birds in a lot of art I’ve seen recently. Birds represent freedom. There is a consciousness among artists/observers that runs deep and I think it’s no surprise that bird imagery is quite common.

    Thanks Ria for bringing this to the surface!
    Love, Jen

  11. Thank you so much for your contributions to this conversation… I’m so fortunate to be surrounded by smart, insightful women. Love that your natural curiosity and love of life compel you to continue peeling away at the onion!

  12. This is great Ria! As always, I love reading the book reviews because they always apply to non-mothers too!

    I think that what Jen said about society is so true and really an important thing to look at for someone like me just starting my real life. Society tells us that we should be one way and when we get to a certain age, we should get married or should have a career we love or should be having kids. It’s hard sometimes to really do what we want to do and become free from what society is telling us to do. I find that I am always telling myself that it’s ok not to be like everyone else and it’s ok to do what makes me feel happy.

    Great post and it sounds like the book and movie will be great.

  13. I haven’t read the book, but there are a couple of things you said that I agree with completely: everyone is “crazy” in some way, to some degree, and there is no such thing as “normal.” Normal is a fiction. Secondly–and this is something I realized at some point in my own life–we always have a choice. It may not be an easy choice, but we always have a choice.


  14. No matter how many versions of this book I read, I know I will always understand the Veronika that was introduced to me when I first read it, in the original language.
    She was not artificial, not even a “character” from a book. She could not rely on anything, herself, her mind or even her life, apparently.
    I remember going to bed after reading some pages of my book and imagining Veronika in her house and I felt her loneliness, even though she could not feel it anymore. She felt numb and tired of living, she gave up. While I was getting my mind ready to sleep and relax for some hours, I used to pray for Veronika to find meaning not in life, but herself. I knew that the Veronika I was reading about was not real but inside of me, I knew there were Veronikas out there looking for a meaning in life, waiting for a sign … and I just wished I could send _somehow_ a thought that might make them ‘hang in there’ some more.
    I hope the movie does not treat the issue in a superficial way, the story is so deep and talks about freedom and a life that even though felt empty was, at the same time, full of time. Veronika just figured that out late.
    This is the link for the biography I told you about:

    See you!