The Pledge

What is your gift to the world?

My moment of freedom happened on July 31st, 2008. On this particularly hot day in July, I decided to wipe away all the nonsensical responsibilities I was placing upon me.

I immediately felt the weight of the world lift off my shoulders and experienced the emotional and personal freedom of doing nothing to do. Just to be clear I overcommitted myself to so many community and civic activities and eventually hated every minute of it. I was a people pleaser with a strong desired to be liked.  It took me years to realize, I was miserable.

On that hot day in July when I finally said enough, that is where my life truly began.

This desire to be liked started when I was a young lad living in Cincinnati, Ohio.  I did two stints in the foster care system.  One with a family who was lovely and the other was with a woman on only cared about her snuff, monthly check and General Hospital.  In between those two stints, I was adopted by awful people.

During my time in foster care and adoption, there was a constant problem. I was treated like an invisible boy. I was neither seen, nor heard, nor acknowledged. I desperately wanted love and approval. I was the little boy in the playground who is always the last to be picked for a team.

In my desperation I…

  • Started trying to rescue people when they did not need rescuing
  • Wanted to be a source of comfort
  • Was afraid to state my honest opinion for fear of rejection
  • Put the needs of others before my own
  • Got involved with unfulfilling organizations and activities for attention

I wanted validation and to hear I was a great guy. In reality I was not that special.

Although certain people were able to call me out on my actions, I did not listen.  I was too concerned about making others happy and being liked. I was too clueless to recognize that I was stripping away my own power.

Then, like a light bulb, I finally had a spark of inspiration.  I had finally realized that I had been living for everyone else. I had to admit this to myself and do the necessary work.

When I completed the last of my major commitments on 7/31/2008 (graduated from my first yoga teacher training program), I breathe a sigh of relief. The period of self-reflection in August of 2008 gave me the opportunity to take a hard look at my actions and why I always came up short. I realize what good did it do for me to end up as master of nothing while I was trying to be the jack of all trades.  In order for me to become a master of one, I had to tell something to hit the road.  During that time of self-reflection I made a personal pledge “to create a life that works for me”  I want to empower you with a pledge to help you to live a life that works for you.

Everybody can create the life that works for them by committing to the following pledges.

  1. Pledge to go for your dreams
  2. Pledge to Align with your purpose
  3. Pledge to do the inner work
  4. Pledge to live with faith.

Pledge #1

I pledge to go for my Dreams

I once had a dream of becoming a doctor; a heart surgeon, to be exact. I want to become a doctor because I love helping people. I also wanted to become a heart surgeon to make money.  The dream of becoming a heart surgeon died during my second year of college. I have felt defeated at that time but I was not out. I flipped through the course catalogue while telling myself I still wanted to be in the health profession.  I happened to run across Community Health education program and I ended up graduating with a BS in Community Health Education in 1998.  I then obtained my Master of Public Health degree in 2002.  I say all this because although I did not fulfill my dream of becoming a heart surgeon, my dream manifested itself in other ways.

Anthony Robbins mentions “we all have dreams. We all want to believe deep down in our souls that we have a special gift, that we can make a difference, that we can touch others in a special way, and that we can make the world a better place.”

I strongly believe people have dreams in their lives they want to achieve.  The problem is that people are afraid to achieve their dreams for a variety of reasons such as fear or procrastination.  Unfortunately, they eventually die with their dreams still buried inside of them.

I am no different because it has taken me a long time to get to the point to where I am today.  I am not here to tell you I have arrived because I am still on a journey. I still struggle and continued to struggle with various fears ranging from a fear of failure or a fear of success.

When these negative thoughts creep up I take a step back and ask myself. What are the root cause of my feelings? Through I all, I just remind myself I am on a mission to fulfill my purpose and I will not be able to do so when I allow negative thoughts control my life.

Pledge #2

I pledge to align with my purpose

Being able to fulfill your dreams would not be possible if you did not have a purpose in life.  It gives you a sense of direction that will guide you along your path so that you can follow your dreams.  Since 2008, I made it my mission to not be apart of the walking dead.  I will not be one of those people who simply exist with no purpose or direction.

In a nutshell, defining your purpose involves answering the following questions:

  • Who am I?
  • What do I want?
  • What is my Purpose in Life?
  • What am I grateful for?

A wise man once said, “purpose gives you joy and adds zest to living.”  When your eye is on the goal, we are not do easily disturbed.  Purpose awakens new trains of thought into files of achievement. When we are ready to succeed, we must have a great purpose in mind – some goals which we are to work. They key word in the preceding quote is WORK.  It is not enough to simply say, I want to follow my dreams and purpose, You have to do the WORK behind it.  By putting effort into following your passion and living your dream, you are digging deeper into your soul as a result, you begin to develop a deeper relationship with yourself.  In a nutshell defining your purpose involves answering the question why?

Pledge #3

I pledge to do my inner work

After I fulfilled my last obligation on July 31st, 2008, I decided at that time to take a hard look at myself. I realized there were a number of things that needed to be done:

  • Embrace my childhood and the drama that was associated with it and use it as a symbol of empowerment, while learning to stop running from it.
  • Focus on activities that were important to me and that I would enjoy doing, and not overcommit myself to activities that would only serve my desire to be noticed and liked.
  • Apply the knowledge I received from Maria Shriver’s book, Just Who Will You Be?and make a personal pledge to myself. I pledged to create a life that works for me.

Loving yourself is the first step in doing the inner work.   Loving yourself is about restoring sanity in your life.  I had to restore my sanity in my life by loving myself again.  I had to stop consuming myself with what other people were doing and focused on what I was doing.   Below are tools you can begin to incorporated where you can begin to love yourself all over again.

  • Journal – Take some time to write down your thoughts on paper.  Take a least 20 minutes and put your thoughts on paper. Start with this question. What is beautiful about today?
  • Begin each day thinking about all of the things you are grateful for.  Do the same at the end of the day and throughout the day.  Here is a journal prompt:  Today, I am grateful for…
  • Mantra – Develop it.  The word mantra comes from two Sanskrit words man (To Think) and Tra (tool). So the literal translation is a tool of thought.  Mantras are used in Buddhist and Hindu practices as tools to clear your mind of distractions.  Because when you focus on repeating that mantra over and over again, soon the noise will die down and you will hear your inner voice:
    • Here are some of the ones that I like to use and you can incorporate them into your personal practice. If you have one that you like to use on your own by all means use it.
      • I am totally independent of the good or bad opinions of other.
      • I am beneath no one.
      • I fearlessly handle and all challenges in my life
  • Meditate – With mediation, I can simply let go and begin to have a relationship with myself.  Meditation allows me to go within and to discover what is going on with me. Meditation allows me to let go and accept what is.  Take a moment, begin to quiet the mind, and let go.  If any thoughts that come up.  Just simply embrace and begin to quiet the mind.

Doing the work is most important because it will determine our desired our outcome. We have dreams and we may claim to know our purpose.  But none of that matters if you are not always doing the work that is expect to achieve your desired outcome.

Here is a tip:  Pick one and commit to it!

Pledge #4

I pledge to Live with Faith

It does not matter what your faith is because that is a personal matter and precision.  You just have to have faith no matter what.  In the process of following your dreams, pursing you purpose, and doing the work, your faith will be tested. You may even be tempted to give up and throw in the towel.

Bonus Pledge

I pledge to never give up

Instead tap into your faith for strength and allow it to serve as your guide to pull you through challenges.  When you least expect it, fears can start to creep up and you many start doubting yourself.  Just take a moment, notice what you are experiencing and breathe. Embrace your fears and let them serve as motivation to keep you on the right path.  Remember it is better to try, fail, and try again than to never try at all

As I conclude, ever since I made the conscious effort to allow that moment in my life, I felt empowered with a sense of peace. I was able to accept that I do not need to make everyone happy! As I leave, let me ask you this: have you experienced your moment of freedom?

Have a Happy Day!

The light in me, honors the light in you! Namaste.

What is your gift to the world?

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