According to the Dictionary of Word Origins, the word “purpose” comes from the Latin word proponere, which means “to declare” or “to put forward.” The word “declaration” invokes such a sense of strength for me. It is a powerful word. It is hard to make a declaration meekly. A person doesn’t “timidly” make a declaration. The very sentence, “he ambivalently declared his position” sounds rather nonsensical. I am also willing to wager that the founding fathers of the United States did not consider titling the Declaration of Independence the Proposal of Independence or the Suggestion of Independence.
Have you ever stopped to consider what you want your personal declaration to sound like and communicate? We all make declarations every day. Sometimes, these declarations are overt, but more often, they are silent or subconsciously communicated by our actions, our body language, and even our thoughts.
Today, I invite you to write your own Declaration of Independence. It’s OK if you haven’t been living in alignment with this declaration — the mere act of determining who you want to be and how you want to show up is incredibly powerful. Don’t just think about what you would want to write — actually spend some time jotting it down. For example, you might decide to declare your independence from your mother and father if you struggle to see, act, or treat yourself like an adult because you continue to yield to their decisions for your life or if you. Or you might choose to write yourself a declaration of independence from your harsh inner critic, your perfectionism, your “should” monster, or your people-pleaser. You may even decide to write a declaration of independence from overworking or thinking too much, if doing so is compromising your relationships or if it is getting in the way of your taking necessary action.
Declaring your independence is an empowering tool that can help you step into the unknown that we must all face and that we all (to varying degrees) fear. To declare one’s independence is to declare oneself worthy of such a declaration. Without such a declaration we are often left stuck in unhelpful patterns and habits and guessing at our life’s purpose.
My bottom-line hope and request to every person (including myself!) is to not give up and not to quit on your declaration when enforcing it gets difficult. Rest when you must but commit to getting back up when you can, continuing to move forward, no matter how slow the progress is and even when you are convinced that you don’t have it in you to keep going.
This likely sounds discouraging — and it is — but the fact is that most challenges in our lives will not fit into neat packages. Often what we need most is to stop digging the holes we are digging, take a deep breath and a step back, and declare independence from the internal message that tells us to give up.
When I have refused to quit and give up on myself, I have often felt awful and worn down at the end of the day, but my self-respect remained intact. Remember: there is often a big difference between how you are feeling and how you are doing. You may be doing well (that is to say, that you remain committed in thought and action to taking care of yourself, for example), but you can still feel horrible. In my experience, when we’re learning to take responsibility for ourselves, it definitely is one of those darker before dawn times!
- What is the relationship between the way you are feeling and what you are doing right now? What might be impacting each? How would you like to be doing?
- What is one thing you would like to declare independence from? What has or is preventing you from doing so?