Let Freedom Ring
Kathy Paauw

  

Independent will is our capacity to act.  It gives us the power to transcend our paradigms, to swim upstream, to rewrite our scripts, to act based on principle rather than reacting based on emotion or circumstance.  While environment or genetic influences may be very powerful, they do not control us.  We’re not victims.  We’re not the product of our past.

-Stephen Covey

In a physical sense, most of us enjoy freedom. In an emotional or psychological sense, however, an estimated 80% of the population puts themselves into a self-imposed prison cell on a regular basis. We forfeit our freedom of choice through our own thought processes.

I frequently hear my clients say, "I have to…" or "I gotta…" or "I should…" And when I hear those phrases I often ask, "Do you have to or do you choose to?" There are very few things in life that we have to do. Yet some of us forfeit our choice to the point of seeing our options in life as limited. This generally leads to a feeling of hopelessness.

There may indeed be times when you are not at choice. . . when you truly are a victim. And sometimes we slip into the victim role when, in fact, we do have choices.

The first step toward getting out of a self-imposed victim role is to recognize the choices you have.  As we celebrate America’s Independence Day, we are reminded of how hard our country has fought for that freedom of choice.

We learn at a very early age that if we act a certain way, we will achieve a certain result. Often the result we opt for is safety. And safety is necessary to preserve our physical well-being. However, our desire to be "safe" sometimes paralyzes our ability to exercise our free will. From childhood on, most of us have been programmed to "play it safe," and this often affects the choices we make as adults. We tell ourselves, "That was so disappointing before, so I better not take that chance again."

Do you allow your fear of hurt, rejection, or failure to determine how much risk you are willing to take? What is the cost of doing this? Perhaps you're stuck in a job or career path you hate, or you are in a relationship that does not serve you, or you've chosen not to pursue a relationship you want. Do you struggle with low self-esteem and self-confidence? If so, you are probably severely hampering your ability to manifest what you want in your life by convincing yourself that you should not try, or that you do not deserve what you really want.

Choices are strongly influenced by disempowering emotions. By learning to recognize and step out of experiencing these emotions, a whole new world of possibility will be available to you. 

I know this from personal experience. For 13 years I chose to stay in a stressful career that I did not find fulfilling. The more time I invested in that career path, the less at choice I felt. At one point I took an exam to receive a special certification in my field. When I passed the exam and was certified, I felt like there was no turning back! I told myself, "I can't leave this field now…look how much I've invested in it!" And besides, I had no idea what else I could possibly do. Fear held me back, until one day the pain of not making a change outweighed the fear of the unknown.

The truth is that you will make mistakes.  You will make wrong decisions.  You will experience regret…and you'll live to talk about it.  The key is to surround yourself with people who will support you regardless.  So give yourself permission to make mistakes and learn from them!

When we focus on our values -- what is most important to us at the core -- we are more at choice and less at effect. We have the freedom to choose based on our own values, versus being influenced by limiting beliefs, circumstances, or the opinions of others. When passion, talents, and skills intersect, there is no limit to the possibilities.

Recently I attended a University of Washington medical school alumni awards dinner, where they presented a humanitarian award to Dr. Isaac Pope.  He was recognized for his work as the director and founder of Pope's Kids Place – a non-profit organization which provides respite care for caregivers and families of children with special health care needs.  After Dr. Pope was presented with this award, he told the audience, “My riches are not measured by money.  My riches are measured by my commitment to work, community, and self.” 

I wonder how many of us can honestly say that we measure our riches based on our commitment to what we value most.

Are you ready to claim the choices that are rightfully yours for the choosing?  Here are some questions to help you get started:

  • Am I spending my time doing what matters most to me?
  • Am I spending my time with the people who matter most to me?
  • Are my creative talents and gifts being used to their fullest potential?
  • Is there something I want more of or less of in my life?  If so, what’s the next step I choose to take to move toward what I want?

You may find yourself putting things off that are important to you -- such as time for self-care or time with those you care about most -- because you have so many urgent tasks that need your attention.  Not sure where to begin?  A good place to start is with your self.  How can you best tend to your own physical, mental, spiritual and social needs? Take out your calendar and schedule time for activities that will nurture all four of these areas of your life.  Then get ready for the transformation that will take place in your life!
  


Kathy Paauw of Paauwerfully Organized. Kathy's web site is a comprehensive resource devoted to helping busy professionals and small business owners de-clutter their schedules, spaces, and minds so they can focus on what's most important. Kathy is an organizing & productivity consultant, certified business & personal coach, and speaker. Contact her at kathy@orgcoach.net. For free resources and valuable productivity tools visit orgcoach.net.

  
   


 
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