I pledge allegiance….
The words ‘Declaration of Independence’ have been dancing around me since the calendar page turned to July. 4th of July is always a date I look forward to. I love to see all the red, white and blue; I love celebrating our holiday with friends and family; and I love the summer cuisine and spirits! Seems we are all a bit more kind, more connected; like the 4th of July brings out the best in everyone.
I keep thinking about my own personal DoI (declaration of independence). When I speak and understand each word separately, I can’t help but feel these words in my heart and soul. From what and/or from whom do I need to declare independence? In what area of my life am I not experiencing freedom? We’ve heard many times, freedom is not free – there is a price for that feeling of being unencumbered. A price for that feeling of wearing a flowing white dress as we twirl in the breeze, arms wide open, head tilted back while the sun shines on our faces, smiling from ear to ear. You know the feeling of pure elation; the feeling that causes giggles just because; the feeling that invites us to be your very best self.
So, why don’t I feel ‘that’ way all the time? Why am I not wearing a white flowy dress, twirling in the breeze, smiling in from ear to ear? What’s holding me back? Could it be the stressful situation at work that has my proverbial self-talk on high alert to be perfect???? Is it the suit of armor that protects my heart from being hurt and has me behave in a way I don’t particularly like or feel good about? Is it a particular person that I tolerate, or worse yet, allow in my life that contributes to the loss of freedom?
I read the draft of this note to my mom – my shero – and we had a great dialogue about this topic. She mentioned that she recently had to declare independence from four women in her life; her own sister included in this foursome. Four women that absolutely violate her boundary of acceptable behavior; their presence sends her nervous system into fight or flight mode constantly. I shared with her a similar situation with an individual at my work. This person’s pay grade is about 4 levels higher than mine, and has a history of being rude. Recently we were in a meeting together, were this person proceeded to be rude and unprofessional to me. I sat back in my chair, breathing very deeply. When the individual was finished with the rant, I gathered my notebook, computer and purse, and shared the following, “You are not invited to speak to me this way. Others may tolerate your behavior, I will not allow it.” I stood up and walked out of the room; I don’t think said person could smell the sweat on my body, or hear the beating of my heart!! I was shaking in my wedges – and boy did it feel GOOD!
Writing my very own DoI and Pledge of Allegiance is one of the most empowering, freeing experiences of my life. Here is how I got started……
First things first – I need to explore all area of my life…..where do I feel stuck? Where do I experience a loss of freedom? Freedom of thought or opinion, freedom to act, freedom to be ME, freedom from fear, freedom from biases? We can’t begin to experience freedom – the kind I mention above – until we see, and I mean clearly see, what we are a slave to. These might be the stories we tell ourselves about our past, about who we are. Stories and biases that are of our own creation and somehow we hold on to them for dear life, though they are not of service to us. What holds us back might be beliefs we take on from others: our families and friends, our culture, our bosses. Start looking for these stories & beliefs and hang out here for a bit. When the thoughts and feelings come up – DO NOT push the thoughts out of your mind and for goodness sake – DO NOT shove the feelings back where they came from. Pay close attention, especially to your feelings, and breathe…deeply and slowly.
Next – I had to debunk all the trash I was telling myself about myself. Remove the words I can’t, I’m not (fill in the blank) enough, It’s too hard, What if I fail, I may look like a fool… these words have no room in our vocab. And once we realize these words have no room in our everyday life, we start to shift. You will notice your thoughts become more positive and your moods more upbeat. Now you have an opportunity to create a new story about yourself. One that says, I can! I am enough! This is great! Once we can see and hear clearly, the FREEDOM to create a new emerges! From here, we are on our way to our very own Declaration of Independence.
This summer I’ve had an opportunity to see what I need to declare autonomy from. A few things come to mind right away –
I need to declare independence from the belief that I am not enough
I need to declare independence from the belief that I must walk through life with a suit of armor
I need to declare independence from the story that I don’t belong
I need to declare independence from the story that in order to (be loved, be enough, fit in, be worthy), I must be perfect
I need to declare independence from the pain of the past
I need to declare independence from the hope the past WILL be different
From this point forward my pledge of allegiance will sound like this:
I pledge allegiance to my soul, within this body temple
and to the present for which I live,
fully alive and expressed in His image
unbreakable, with ease and grace abound
This type of freedom is not free. It takes the kind of effort that lies deep within us, that is only awakened when we realize that we are no longer willing to live within a personal constitution that bounds us to the past. And by the way, this constitution of ours, has provisions to make amendments often. After all, you are the author, editor and publisher of it.
Let freedom ring!!