Your Personal Independence Day
Here’s a way you can win your own personal “revolution”.
I had a client recently who complained about not feeling like he was “his own person.”
“It’s like I live my whole life for others, and I never really feel worthy.”
Pretty funny, since he an attorney, partner in a large firm employing a couple hundred lawyers.
“So how do you act at work?” I asked.
“Oh, then I’m being the Guy in Charge, so that’s a no-brainer,” he answered. “It’s when I stop to think about where my life is going that I come up blank.”
I realized that I had heard this story dozens of times in the years I’ve been working with high-powered clients. Most of them were so busy getting through school and being “super-stars” that they never really found out what it was like to just be themselves.
Then again, I’ve also heard the same thing from working moms, cab drivers and waitresses, and unemployed veterans.
Hmmm. Something important here.
All of these good people, no matter what walk of life they were in, have come up missing in the “independence”
Forty years ago there was an amazing British television series, called “The Prisoner.” It was about a man, a former secret agent, who was imprisoned in a resort village by an anonymous government that wanted him to become a number.
“I am not a number,” he would shout in the opening of each episode, “I am a Free Man!” It was an interesting series, exploring the mindset of a person who, although his body was imprisoned, remained free in his mind.
And now today, even in a relatively free country, there seem to be a lot of people who don’t feel particularly “free”.
How about you? Do you feel like you need to be more “your own person?”
A feeling of independence is an attitude, and attitudes are a matter of choice.
The choice may be unconscious like most of our choices. But if you find an attitude may be important it can be created. When you want to do that, all you need is a method.
Here are a couple of small thought processes that will make a quick difference in your degree of personal independence:
1) Your self-image — building one that strengthens you
Find some time when you can be undisturbed. Relax. Look inside yourself to see what comes up when you consider yourself.
Is it a picture? Is it realistic? Is it flattering or negative? What do you see in your mind’s eye? Is there any
kind of commentary running in the background, whispering into your ear? Is it flattering or a teardown?
If you become aware of any negative commentary about yourself, why don’t you consider changing it? I mean, how much fun do you have if you are allowing some old tape in your head to brainwash you and make you feel bad about yourself? So argue with it, and in your own voice make a commentary about your good points. By the way, whose voice is it??
When you think of your visual image, consider this — what image of you would a person that loved you see when thinking of you? How would that picture differ from the one you’re seeing now? If a person that loved you sees you as a better self than you do, how about adopting their picture? It would be an inspiration to be better, and what harm could that do?
When you get a picture of yourself that makes you feel good, enrich the image, make the colors brighter, and perhaps turn it into a 3-D movie.
2) Your “other-image” — creating one that frees you from over-concern with the opinions of other people
Your “other-image” is what I call the image you have inside your head whenever you think of someone else. When you think of someone else, someone who has an influence with you, what kind of image do you see?
I know it’ll be different, from person to person. Whether you’re talking about a lover, parent, friend, or child the image will be different.
If you look at the images of two or three people whose opinion you value — whose opinion might even change a decision of yours — if you look at their images you will probably find some visual quality that’s common. The images might all have the same expression, or give you the same feeling, or be equally bright or in the same location (where you look to see the imaginary image in your mind).
Anyway, make up a sample of a typical other-image (sort of an average of all the people whose opinion might influence you.) Notice the character of these “other-images,” and see if they make you feel too dependent or smaller than you really are.
Then switch to your “adjusted” self-image, which you fine-tuned in exercise number one. Adjust it a little further if you need to strengthen the loving kindness that is the way you want to look at your self-image.
Then switch back to your “other-image”, and make sure it is smaller and further away than your self-image.
Switch back and forth, making the adjustments in each image till they both feel fine and comfortable to you. You need to keep checking the feelings triggered in you by each image. Keep switching until the images don’t need any more changes made.
SECRET OF SUCCESS
The way to make this work is to allow your imagination time to really SEE these images. That’s how the effect will take place. It’s not enough to say to yourself, “Oh, I see what he’s talking about.” Actually DOING it is the only way to make these kinds of changes. If you take a few minutes you’ll see for yourself.
Take your time. Get it right.
And when you’re done, you might be surprised to find yourself feeling less concerned about opinions others might have regarding your choices and decisions.
3) Dealing with boundaries — expanding your sense of personal freedom
While sitting still, close your eyes and feel the space around you. Notice how much space you enclose in your personal boundary. It may be very close to your clothing, or it may be a few inches to a few feet beyond the boundaries of your physical body. Just notice where the edge is at the moment.
Now, just for fun, change it so that your “personal space” includes the entire room you are sitting in. Notice any changes in your feeling that may follow. Take your time.
Now enlarge it, so that you include the entire building you are sitting in. Of course, your point of view enlarges with it — so now you know what to do when I ask that you see what it feels like to enlarge your space again, so that you encompass the entire block where you are sitting. If you are in the country, imagine that your personal space includes the entire parcel of land you are on.
Once again enlarge your boundaries, so that you include the whole county, then the whole state or province you are in, with all the birds, animals, people and everything in it.
Now enlarge your personal space so that you encompass the entire planet Earth. Again, notice how it feels to have the whole planet within your personal space.
Okay, now gradually shrink it back down, stopping whenever you wish, until the edge of your personal bubble is now somewhere more comfortable and natural feeling.
Interesting feeling, isn’t it? Now, just for curiosity, check how your adjusted self-image looks. Does it feel any different than it did before the boundary experiment? And your other-image. Are the people in the image perhaps smaller or farther away?
Enjoy these, and feel free to teach them to others if you like. We can’t have too much independence.