Isn’t it wonderful we have the opportunity to celebrate freedom? Aside from fireworks and picnics, Independence Day reminds us how a group of determined people rallied to claim their power. Tired of taxes and exploitation by the British government, American nationalists realized cooperation through peaceful means had become futile. Tensions rose and conflict ensued between Great Britain and the Americans.
The Revolutionary war ended with the Americans claiming victory and an independent identity. To proclaim this moment of liberation, Americans reflected upon their published Declaration of Independence, a document asserting natural and legal rights. One of the most-often quoted sentences from the Declaration sets forth this moral code to the world:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
— Declaration of Independence
Let us apply the American story of freedom to our own lives.
Jim sank into the client chair at my office with a heavy heart. He was having a hard time getting away from the nonstop family and work obligations that filled his schedule. Although he was ready to make better choices, James felt guilty spending time with me. “I want help but it’s taking time away from my kid’s soccer games and dinner with the family. If I leave work early I will have so much to do in the morning. I feel stuck in a rut.” To determine if James is truly motivated to change he has to answer some tough questions. Read more about freedom.
Are you determined to claim your power?
A full calendar to James means stress and pressure. It doesn’t matter if the event marks something important, he hasn’t the energy to enjoy it. His boundaries are loose and ill-defined. Instead of living with purpose he is flopping around like a fish out of water. Like this fish, he is lost, has a hard time finding air and doesn’t know how to roam in his own skin with ease.
What are you tired of?
Before he goes to bed James feels restless, overwhelmed and exhausted. He can’t pinpoint the source of his fatigue because of his many irons in the fire. “My other challenge,” he says to me, “is that I love to be needed. So what if I’m tired. At the end of the day I’d rather make people happy than taking a break.”
Do you feel in conflict with yourself and with others?
James tried several ways to create peace in his life. None of his options seemed effective or lasted long enough to feel steady. After he tried one more idea that didn’t work he felt like a failure. The failure turned into a rising tension between what he wanted for himself and what everyone else expected of him.
“Yes, I want to take care of others but I’m on edge all the time. My stomach is in knots. My head won’t stop running. My inner voice wants to speak out, but the words are buried under long-standing recordings of I’m not good enough.”
It was clear to James it was time to feel strong again and declare freedom. James needed to establish an independent identity asserting his rights based on a written moral code. With code in hand, he can thrive based on his truths.
Here is what James drafted as his personal declaration of independence:
During the course of life events, it becomes necessary to release the bonds of pain, struggle and strain and to create a life based on what I value most: peace, love and joy.
I am a Divinely inspired being entitled to feeling alive, enjoying myself and my family and being content.
I am no longer be held back by the constraints of judgment, guilt, time and obligations.
I separate myself from people or experiences attempting to distract me from my truths.
As a free and independent person I have the power to live from a place of honor, make healthy choices and establish safe boundaries for myself and my relationships.
I pledge to take care of myself the same way I care for others – with love, patience, respect, gratitude and kindness.
Is it time for you to write your declaration of independence? Start by asking yourself tough questions. Your answers may be the proof you need to get out pen and paper, end the conflict and finally be free.