Do you sometimes feel like a piece of paper blown every-which-way in the wind, and without much say in the matter? Or do you often find yourself doing what you think you "should do", rather than what you want to do?
If so, imagine feeling the true freedom of always choosing what you will do, and when you'll do it! If you want to start responding to life on your own terms--well read on for a glimpse of the quickest way you can experience this freedom--which is by redefining your relationship to responsibility.
Do you often do things because you think you "have to"? Are the words "should" or "ought to" an everyday part of your thinking? You might be surprised how severely this limits your ability to be who you want to be, and to do what you want to do, when you want to do it.
Would you like to overcome the limits this kind of thinking puts on your freedom?
The first step in experiencing the freedom you crave is to start responding to life's situations in ways that are in harmony with your values. And the ability to respond in harmony with your values starts redefining your relationship with "responsibility".
Now, we'd be willing to bet that you've rarely (if ever) heard the idea of "freedom through responsibility" strung together in this way, let alone the notion that the sooner you understand the relationship between these words, the sooner you'll experience a life no longer ruled by "shoulds", "have tos" and "ought to" thinking.
Freedom and Responsibility Fit Hand-in-Glove
Most people confuse responsibility with obligations, duties, and requirements, which are at the root of "should thinking". Consider how many times this kind of thinking takes over your world: "I should go visit my aunt in the hospital." "I have to pick my kids up from school." "I ought to return Sally's call."
"Should thinking" is the quickest way we know to create resentment in your life and to convince you that freedom is just a fantasy. Why? Because it's based on the belief that you have no choice in the matter.
Life is full of circumstances where it may seem like your choices are limited, and you can see few ways to respond effectively. However, even in situations that seem out of your hands, you still hold the key to true freedom because you are never left without choice.
"What is freedom? Freedom is the right to choose: the right to create for oneself the alternatives of choice. Without the possibility of choice and the exercise of choice a man is not a man but a member, an instrument, a thing."
~ Thomas Jefferson
One such choice we've made is to relate to the idea of responsibility differently than we learned it growing up. We now choose to understand it as our "ABILITY to respond", or our "response-ability".
It is by the very fact that we have this "ability to respond" that we always have a choice. But the question then becomes: What might be limiting my ability to respond?
What's Your Values IQ
We believe that "should thinking" is like having a straitjacket on your ability to respond to the circumstances in your life--it almost guarantees that you will never experience the freedom you desire.
The most effective way we've found to overcome this limitation is to develop the ability to respond in alignment with your values. Getting good at this requires you to develop your Values Intelligence Quotient, or your VIQ.
The quickest way to improve your VIQ is by learning how to avoid taking any actions unless you understand clearly how those actions support what you most deeply value. Developing this ability is the surest way we know to free your mind from impacts of "should thinking".
Even better, improving your Values Intelligence will allow you to stay open to the endless possibilities present in every situation. It's through learning and practicing this quality of response-ability for what you value that you can begin to experience true freedom in your life.
Freedom Is By Choice
This leads us to one our favorite things to say, which is:
The fastest way to a happy life is found through conscious choice.
Understanding that you always have a choice--and knowing clearly how to consciously choose in harmony with what you value--will open your eyes to new opportunities in all areas of your life. It's only when you can see these opportunities that you'll have the freedom to choose consciously.
One way you can practice this new found freedom is by starting to use your feelings as an alarm.
Any time you feel tense, there is most likely a choice to be made. Rather than deciding what you "should" do, choose those options that are in harmony with your values and the actions that will create a life you love.
Let Freedom Ring!
This whole process begins with the simple understanding that you have a choice, that you can improve your ability to respond in any situation, and then making a commitment that whatever choice you make will be in harmony with what you value most!
This doesn't mean that you won't visit your aunt in the hospital, pick up the kids, or return Sally's call. It means you'll only take these actions because you understand why you value doing so, and experiencing the freedom of only doing what you value.
Are you ready to develop your Values Intelligence Quotient and experience the freedom of a life lived from connection with your most deeply held values? If so, you owe it to yourself to learn The Art of Conscious Connection. This online eCourse was synthesized from our 3-day, live seminar, and offers practical, experiential, step-by-step training in the essential skills for living on purpose. Sign up for The Art of Conscious Connection online eCourse here.
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