In the spirit of July as we celebrate American independence, I think about personal independence and what it entailed for me. Sure, it is a big subject because the idea of personal independence is just that — personal. It means something different to each of us.
In my case, I yearned for acknowledgment, approval and acceptance. Also, I felt that I needed to be something other than who I was to get it. Therefore, I created very specific ideas of how I should act, what I should look like and what I needed to achieve to be deemed worthy of other people’s acceptance.
Talk about struggle! I was like a pinball, bouncing from persona to persona based upon who I was trying to please at the time. Actually, I had no way to win. My notion to act saintly (in order to be acceptable to others) was impossible to achieve. My standard of what was beautiful wasn’t my own, and was impossible for me to achieve. My sense of what it meant to be accomplished wasn’t my own, and was impossible for me to achieve.
Depression: aligning with non-preferred situations and feeling helpless to change them. – Author Unknown
Depression and I were really good friends. I felt trapped inside my head and heart because of my unrealistic expectations. After decades of spinning my wheels, being stubborn and trying to be someone and something I was not, I had a total breakdown.
Breakdowns get a bad rap, in my opinion. To me, having a breakdown means that what I have been doing — over and over again to receive what I think I want — isn’t working. When I get to the point where I’ve had enough, that is when I am willing to consider new ideas. Open. Receptive. Willing. That is when a breakthrough becomes possible. Breakdowns create breakthroughs.
In breaking through, I stopped focusing on other people’s definitions of beauty, success and acceptability and turned within to explore my own definitions of them. I explored what I appreciated about myself, exactly as I was. I started acknowledging what I do well, and spoke kindly to myself.
In time, I found that I was lighter in my head and heart. In time, I found an inner peace and joy emerging softly. And in time, by clearing myself of unrealistic expectations I found my freedom. I embraced and enjoyed my personal declaration of independence, and I’ve been dancing and singing ever since!
My heartfelt wish is for you to determine what personal independence means for you. My heartfelt wish is for you to be acceptable to yourself. My heartfelt wish is for you to break free from the chains of others’ expectations that you have adopted for yourself. My heartfelt wish is for you to be able to look in the mirror and know that a strong, amazing and magnificent person cheerfully gazes back at you.
To assist you in getting there, I have some suggestions:
- Honor what you did to survive: If you know that the underlying intention for all you have done was to receive acknowledgement and acceptance, know that to be true and give yourself a break. You were doing the best you could at the time.
- Accept your thoughts: Understand that you think up to 60,000 thoughts every day, and they are like clouds in the sky. Don’t get too hung up on how you should The truth is, you think how you think, and whatever you are thinking is going to shift momentarily anyway.
- Celebrate your uniqueness: Comparing yourself to others is like comparing a tulip and a rose. Stay in your own body and mind and know that you are divine in origin and expression.
If none of these suggestions resonate with you, that’s fine! Be willing to receive clarity on what tools can help you break free from unrealistic expectations, and you will find them.
As you greet the second half of the calendar year, wake up each day and commit to being a good friend to yourself. As you do this just a bit each day, your clarity will increase and your personal declaration of independence is right around the corner. Get your dancing shoes ready!