Most of the conversations I hear around sovereignty start and end with (our lives) not being dictated by external circumstances, but that is truly just the tip of the iceberg! There is so much more to it than that. My framework for Sacred Sovereignty has evolved over the last few years. It began as a term I used for my women’s retreat, and subsequently expanded from working directly with people and noticing the ways in which we evade claiming our full sovereignty in life. Through this work & synthesis I have come to recognize four main pillars of Sacred Sovereignty. I encourage you to enter into any inquiry of them without any blame, shame or self-judgement – engaging in this way is what will allow you to gain actual clarity & right relationship with reality around your own Sacred Sovereignty.
1. The recognition that my life is not dictated by external circumstances.
To some degree, we are all impacted by external circumstances. Bringing consciousness to this is what’s important, because then we begin to have choice in how we want to respond.
I often hear people say things like, “I cant ___ because _____” -or- “I have to ___ or else ____” There are always some ways in which these are true. However, so long as we see our lives as dictated by these external circumstances, we are limiting our true Sovereignty. For example, it is (small ‘t’) true that I can’t leave the house at night when my children are in bed, but what’s more (capital ‘T’) True is that I choose not to do that because I’m unwilling to risk the potential consequences.
This is a key point – when I am not willing to make a choice because of the ramifications, I am still making a choice. But this does not mean external circumstances don’t impact me or influence my choices, it just means that regardless of how they do this, I still have a choice.
If you’re interested in beginning to enquire around this in your own life, start by asking, where in my life can I be more sovereign? Where am I currently allowing my life to be dictated by external circumstances? It’s important to engage this inquiry without any defense or justification about whether external circumstances truly do dictate your life, but to simply tell yourself the truth about where it seems as though they do.
Any place you find yourself saying, “I cant ___ because _____” -or- “I have to ___ or else ____”, is usually an indicator of an area we aren’t claiming our choice.
2. The recognition that my life is not dictated by internal circumstances.
We can also allow ourselves to be dictated by internal circumstances, which is a lot tricker to pinpoint because we tend to identify a lot more strongly with the internal circumstances. We say things like, “I can’t do ____ because I don’t feel like it”, or “I’m too tired” or “that doesn’t feel like my truth right now”. When we do this, we are allowing our lives to be dictated by internal circumstances. For example, many people say “I can’t promote my work (in the world), because it just doesn’t feel authentic. I’m no good at talking about myself (or my work).” What we’re really saying is: “I’m unwilling to feel the discomfort of sharing (about) myself in this way.”
This is allowing yourself to be dictated by your internal experience.
These are harder to tease out because they often have moral implications, but the spirit of this enquiry is just being honest about what’s so, and then once we know that, we have the choice to change it.
The cultural pendulum in some communities has swung from not being allowed to feel feelings to thinking that everything has to stop because of our internal circumstances. We think it’s inauthentic to make a facebook Live if we’re feeling shy or ashamed, that we can’t share about the power of our work in the world if we’re having a bad day, that we can’t do early morning practices because we need ‘self care’, or can’t offer love to our partner because we’re mad at them, but it is actually totally possible to give space for feelings while continuing to step forward – neither denying the feelings, nor becoming completely stopped by them. It is in this way that we cease to allow our lives to be dictated by our internal circumstances.
Take some time to inquire: Where do you allow your internal experience to dictate what you can & cannot do?
There is no need to jump right into changing anything. Just take honest stock.
3. The capacity to limit (our) choice(s) in service of (true) freedom.
We live in an era of vast choice. We have 10 billion choices nowadays for just about everything, from what laundry detergent to buy, to what country we want to travel to next, to what to watch on Netflix. We’ve been sold the idea that more choice means more freedom, but I disagree. There is a way in which having too many choices steals and sucks our energy – and becomes its own kind of trap, just as limiting as having no choice at all.
While it can be true in some areas that more choice equals freedom, when we aren’t talking about someone else limiting our choices, or society limiting our choices – the conscious decision to limit our own choices actually creates more freedom.
The first time I had this experience, I was 16 years old & had just spent a week in the deserts of Southern California. I came back so dirty, and went to the grocery store for soap. I must have stood in the soap isle for 30 minutes, totally overwhelmed by all the options! Should I buy that one bar I actually wanted, or the 3-pack that was cheaper than the one bar? Did I want liquid or bar soap? Natural? Scented or unscented? What scent? Etc… It was the first time that I felt, at a visceral level, how having more choice(s) could be limiting.
The capacity to limit our own choices on purpose & for a purpose creates true freedom. This is where personal limits & boundaries come into play. Not as a way of attempting to control ourselves, but in service of freeing our time, energy & attention for what we most want to give it to.
For instance, it would probably afford me more freedom to donate or give away half the clothes in my closet, or to only go to the grocery store once a week. A common example is social media: most people recognize that limiting their ‘freedom’ around time spent on social media would actually afford them far more freedom in all other areas of their life.
What are some areas of your life that might benefit from some chosen limitations, in service of truer freedom(s)?
4. The recognition of interdependence, which includes both agency & communion.
When we talk about being sovereign, we tend to imagine (more) sovereign as (more) separate: I am me, unto myself, these are my boundaries, I get to make my own decisions, I have agency, etc, etc… But sovereignty as only separate is fundamentally false. While our lives are not dictated by external circumstances, it is also true that we are connected & interdependent, and that we impact each other. Any conversation about what it is to be human is incomplete without understanding the truth of our connectedness.
I am a separate being, I have agency, and I get to choose -and- my actions impact you & your actions also impact me. That’s the dance of being human; that’s the beauty of being alive. If I am unwilling to acknowledge communion – the ways in which we are connected & our impact on each other – my life will be dictated by it, because that is a natural law. Pretending interconnectedness doesn’t exist is like pretending that gravity doesn’t exist. We impact each other, and we are impacted by our environment. Our sovereignty comes from the capacity to see all the parts of everything. Acknowledging agency and communion, not being dictated by inner or outer circumstances, and limiting our choices to create freedom—this is Sacred Sovereignty.
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