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Your Declaration of Independence & Inner Freedom

At some point when we grow up, we decide we have to “settle down,” become responsible, do what we need to do to pay the bills. We get a job, we wear the right clothes, we behave ourselves.

Well, I’m here to tell you that being a “grown up” is not where it’s at.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I am not advocating going AWOL on your taxes or not paying the mortgage.  But on the other hand, I think too many good peeps out there are feeling stuck, underutilized, uninspired.  If this is you, and if you want things to change, the place to look is your sense of inner freedom.

 The Essential and Social Selves

There’s many different ways to think about the competing voices in our head (I sometimes call them The Committee) that chime in when we want to make a change in our lives.  One of the most useful distinctions comes from the wonderful Martha Beck in Finding Your Own North Star: the Essential Self and the Social Self.  The essential self, as you’ve probably guessed, is who you are at your very essence.  It is made up of your natural skills, talents, preferences, strengths (and weaknesses) – what makes you the fabulous you that you are.  The social self, on the other hand, is the part of you that was developed in response to your environment and its cues.

Your social self keeps you out of trouble, and its main concern is to make sure you are safe and under the radar of any perceived enemies.  Your social self quickly learned that making parents or teachers mad was a recipe for disaster, so it made sure you followed the rules. The problem is that you learned most of these rules when you were 6, and here you are at 32 (or 48, or 55), still feeling trapped by a bad case of the “shoulds.”

 Unchecked, your social self can smother your sense of inner freedom.

Sometimes we need to make a big change in our life.  Sometimes we really do need a new job, or it would be a good idea to move across the country, or join the Peace Corps.  Other times, we simply need to rearrange our perception of the situation.  As my friend Scott told me recently: “The way you relate to the issue IS the issue.”

Whether it’s actually taking action in the world, or cleaning out some old beliefs and mental patterns, the goal is to have a sense of inner freedom.  And in order to do that, you need to let your Essential Self speak.

 Your Personal Declaration of Independence

Now it’s your turn. Here’s a process (with my example) of how you might craft your own Personal Declaration of Independence and Inner Freedom.  Notice I didn’t say “should.”

  •  Track the social self. Notice where your social self is dictating your life. Where do you feel stuck or trapped?  For example, my social self seems to believe that if I don’t log in at least 60 hrs of work a week, my coaching business will never be as successful as I’d like it to be.
  • Ask your essential self. Do some journaling and ask your essential self: What do you REALLY want?  My essential self would like to take it one day at time.  Parenting young kids means you have to stay loose and ready to shift.  Some days I’ll be able to work 4 hours, other days 8 hours.  If I keep taking good care of myself, I will make the best of what time I have.  Stress gets me nowhere.
  •  Do “The Work.” As soon as you let your essential self speak, your social self will gasp and clench and say, “We Can’t Do That.”  This is a thought, and the question is whether it is a useful thought, and if there is another one that might be more useful.  Visit Byron Katie’s website and learn how to challenge your thoughts.  My social self’s thought: “You’re not working hard enough and you’re not disciplined enough to have the super successful coaching business you want.  It’s never gonna happen.”  (Yes, my social self is quite intense, bless her.)  My turnaround: “It’s already happening; my business is growing every day.  Also, I’m raising two lovely kids who are doing just fine.  Being an entrepreneur and a great mom at the same time requires plenty of discipline and hard work, thank you very much.”
  • Write your personal declaration of independence.  Share it with one good friend.  Here’s mine: I hold these truths to be self-evident: that I can and will continue to build a kick-ass coaching business that motivates and supports my peeps to be powerful agents of change.  I do so while taking extremely good care of myself and my family.  I walk my talk.  I am authentic, I tell the whole truth, and I forgive myself when I stray off my center.  I continue to look for daily opportunities to make a difference and disrupt the status quo.  I will enjoy the journey.  I therefore solemnly and publicly declare that I am free and independent, and that as a free and independent person I have full power to challenge my thoughts and choose my course of action.
  •  Take a small step. Do one small thing you’ve been meaning to do for a long time that will make you feel happy.  Today I’m sharing my declaration with you, my dear peep.

What truths do YOU hold to be self-evident?

Let me know in the comments, or join me on my free monthly call; we talk about our essential selves there regularly.

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