Sovereignty tends to be a word associated with politics so it came up in reference to how one shows up in the world. How you take care of yourself, how you act and the boundaries you maintain in social situation.
You know I love a good definition, especially from Merriam-Webster:
1 supreme excellence or an example of it
2 a :supreme power especially over a body politic
b :freedom from external control :autonomy
c :controlling influence
And I love powerful questions:
Do you have sovereignty over yourself?
How much do you let other people control you?
How much do you control yourself?
Ages ago, I heard motivational speaker, Gabby Bernstein tell a story about how after years of not being able to control herself with food, drugs and alcohol, she was at a gathering where cupcakes were being served. She took one bite and then asked her friend if she’d like the rest. Her friend asked her why she didn’t finish it and Gabby responded that she loved herself too much. I’m paraphrasing of course, but it’s a concept I’ve heard many health and life coaches talk about – self love and self respect that keeps you from abusing yourself in the name of pleasure.
Basically, the ability to enjoy something to the point of optimal pleasure and then stop before diving head first into overindulgent pain, guilt and disappointment.
Have you ever eaten so much that you were in pain, felt sick and even had to change clothes to accommodate your swollen belly? As the holidays are coming up, I’m sure many people will be doing just that in the name of celebrations. The idea of feasting through the whole season really, leaves millions of Americans feeling guilty and making New Year’s resolutions to go on diets (that last about 48 hours, on average).
And it isn’t just around food.
I know many women who will “treat” themselves to a glass of wine (or 4) every night to wind down. Or go on a shopping trip to cheer up and spend money wastefully.
Although there is pleasure in the first drink, most of them wake up the next day feeling guilt about the multiple glasses, thinking about the calories, the hangover and the blur that was their evening after glass #2 when they could have been accomplishing something else.
Or the shopping hangover, embarrassed by the irresponsible spending, scared of the impending credit card bills, embarrassed to return it all and even hiding the purchases to try and forget.
I know you can relate in some way and I can tell you I’ve been there too. Maybe a therapist could tell you what happened in your childhood to make you want to fill a hole in your soul with all this stuff. Or how society has influenced us all to be a consumer culture and spend all our time on disposable goods.
But that’s not what I’m here to talk about.
I’m here to explore how no matter how or why you’re doing this, you can make a choice to find a better way.
Some of that has to do with taking control of your own decision making and having sovereignty over yourself.
Deciding not to go on the pleasure roller coaster of over eating, over shopping or over buying that takes you on a high and leaves you in pain, suffocating under the weight of what you’ve just done.
It goes beyond just self-control and self-love. It’s a high level of being your own and acting like it.
Think about a queen, in the olden days she would be called a sovereign (maybe still?) and the people of her country honor her, respect her and protect her.
What would your life look like if you treated yourself like your own queen?
Of course, it would come with the responsibility of making up your own rules (laws), creating boundaries and relationships with neighboring nations (like friends and family) and protecting your domain (including your body, mind and soul).
Perhaps you would more carefully consider your behavior, choosing to act with love, compassion, integrity and poise.
You would also take your responsibility seriously and not allow bad behavior to run amok.
On a personal side, I started to think more about having sovereignty over myself and had subtle changes at first.
Just the word itself, invokes a higher level of seriousness and authority, doesn’t it?
I started to create more authoritative boundaries around what thoughts, beliefs and opinions I allowed to be present in my mind – actively filtering what I was receiving from friends, family and media to make sure it didn’t make me crazy.
For example, I keep up on what’s going on in the world but it doesn’t mean I’m going to get into a futile debate on Facebook. Doing that would give too much power to people who aren’t actually engaging in a meaningful way with me, to influence my mind and behavior. So, I set a boundary there.
Effectively, as the queen of my domain, I outlawed useless arguing on social media 🙂
Does that make sense?
Likewise, it filtered into what I choose to participate in, eat or buy (and how much!)
Right now, it’s gearing up for Halloween and I was at a house where they already had bags of candy. Of course, I like candy, who doesn’t? So, I looked at the ingredients to see what might not kill me and chose to have a mini- Snickers. As I was eating it, I went for another – I am not immune to that satisfying pop of sugar on my tongue melding with the creamy nougat and salty peanuts. Because of my decision, a long time ago, to actually taste my food, I totally enjoyed that first one and the second one.
But when I bit into the third one, I noticed that rush wasn’t as high.
I thought about having one more to boost that kick again, but, as the queen of my domain 😉 I realized that the next one would yield less pleasure and it was my responsibilty to receive that gorgeous pleasure I was having and not ruin it with regret, illness and bad manners (greed).
It’s probably human nature to want more and more of that high from the pleasure of taste and texture, but when you are sovereign, there is a higher level of responsibility to realize that eating more, buying more or using more is not going to give you that initial rush anymore and to allow yourself to settle into that pleasure and glide down gracefully, rather than crash and burn under the weight of overindulgence and chaotic behavior.
Now, I’d really love to hear from you! What kind of overindulgence could you decide, as your own Sovereign, to enjoy responsibly? Or what boundaries do you need to create, with authority, to improve your life? Let me know in the comments, please!