Has anyone in life ever tried to place you in a box? We’ve all faced this before; the world loves to place us in boxes. Humans have a natural need in society to categorize. Are you a feminist or not? Are you a Christian or not? Are you a Republican or a Democrat? People spend a lot of time trying to sort us into these categories, these boxes.

Well, here’s something I’ve learned about the world trying to place us in boxes: If you live with love and you begin to really BE that love, there’s no need to declare or define yourself — or allow others to do it for you. There’s no need to fit into a certain box. The truth is, our potential is too big and magnificent to fit into a box anyway. The box mentality is a relic from the past and it is time to let it go.

I teach a discipline called systems thinking, and it’s all about seeing the “forest for the trees” — getting that big picture — and connecting. When we come from a place of love, power, and wisdom, we adjust our communication to connect with whomever we’re with.

I go by the tree philosophy: I’ve never once seen a tree hold up a sign that says, “I am a tree, and anyone who is not a tree is wrong.” They simply ARE; they are who they are, in all their majestic beauty.

Why Do People Need to Place Us in a Box?

In my work, people sometimes want to identify what exactly my beliefs are, and whether I believe a certain way. If I don’t believe what they do, sometimes they become frustrated. And I respect that! I joyfully respect where people are.

When has the world asked you to step into a box? Picture an actual box: a blue box, a white box, a huge wardrobe box, a decorative jewelry box. It doesn’t matter how big or small the box, or how pretty that box is. We simply have no need to step into a box. And I believe that’s part of our journey here in life: to figure out how to step back and step out from being in that box, to learn how to say, “I get it. I see the box. No, thank you.” That’s half the battle, right, just to see the box?

How many times have you stepped right into the box others have presented you with? We’ve all stepped into them in life — sometimes willingly, sometimes unwillingly. We all have quite a collection of boxes!

The motherhood box. The sister box. The daughter box. The female box. The religious box. The political box. The proper society box.

Here’s the thing: We don’t have to step into the box! Seeing the box really is half the battle. Awareness is beckoning to us all! We can see it, acknowledge it, decide if we want to dip a toe in the box, then figure out how we’re going to move forward.

You Get to Choose Your Boxes — or Live Box Free!

The COVID-19 pandemic has actually separated us from a lot of the boxes we normally operate under — like the student box or the nine-to-five employee box, for example. The question is, when this is all over someday, what boxes are we going to choose to step back into? Or will we decide to live a life where we don’t have to be in boxes at all? Our potential has been held hostage for a very long time. Aren’t you ready to be free?

We often try so hard to fit into others’ boxes. In my own 20-year marriage, I stayed 13 years too long because I was trying to fit into that box. What’s challenging is we have to ask ourselves: Why have we have been taught to stay in boxes? Why were we trained to step into boxes in the first place? What fear are we ignoring by staying in those boxes? Why were we as women taught to be small like a cat when we have the strength of a lion inside? A vista of freedom is beckoning to us all once we decide to step out of those boxes.

This August marks the 100th anniversary of American women achieving the right to vote. As we look back with admiration, let’s also look forward with inspiration. Let’s take their lead and step outside of the rules, expectations, and limitations others have asked us to work within.

3 Tips to Help You Break Free from Unwanted Boxes

  1. Become aware of your boxes: Recognize what boxes you may be tap dancing in and decide whether you really want to stay in them.
  2. Spend some time reflecting on why we were taught to live in boxes: Map out all the little rules that people who want you to be in those boxes have for you. It may be startling to discover that some of the very people who taught you to live from these boxes do not have your best interest at heart.
  3. Recognize that you have the freedom to step out of these boxes: You can step out of any box and be the glorious, divine being that you are.

As you become aware of the boxes you’re currently living in, remember that you get to choose which you want to keep — if any. The world’s boxes don’t define you; you get to decide who you want to be.