As Published on New Straits Times – 16 August 2015

Journey into Personal Independence by Jaime Shine

Each year Malaysians come together to celebrate “Hari Kemerdekaan” marking the joyous occasion of our independence day. Founded on the principles of liberty and justice, welfare and happiness of its people and maintenance of just peace among all nations, we seek our right to be free. As we get psyched up about the festivities, let us also explore the spirit of Independence Day within ourselves as an individual.

Being personally independent means that you are able to think and act for yourself and not be subjected to another’s authority or jurisdiction. It also means that you are free to be whatever you want to be, to take appropriate action and do what is right for yourself and not have to weigh your decisions based on how people think or perceive you to be. You will not be dependent on others for assistance or support but be competent, self confident and empowered.

Yet a lot of us are stuck in this dilemma of doing what is right in society’s eyes or what pleases my family most rather than act upon our true heart’s desires. We consciously or unconsciously weigh our options and make calculated decisions based on perceptions and expectations of other’s even if all you ever wanted to do is dance and sing and not a law degree or settling in a marriage just because it’s the right thing to do.

These decisions are the ones that inevitably put us into a jail like dilemma bringing us even deeper into a spiral of personal imprisonment thinking there is no way out and feelings or unhappiness and resentment that grows more and more everyday. And you wonder why there is so much rage everywhere.

Despite it all, it is never too late to make changes. Even our Independence took decades of fights and changes from colonial rule to communism to anti-colonial nationalism and finally independence. Likewise, your journey into personal independence can be crafted and shaped into your life through these steps.

Practise Makes Progress

4 Steps to create Personal Independence

1 Acknowledge where you are now

Taking stock on what is not working in your life right now is a good place to start. When we are unhappy, it means we are not doing what is best for us and something needs to change. We are creatures of self-improvement and will always have a deep wanting to be a better version of ourselves. So as you reflect upon what needs to change to make your life better, you are able to see the areas in which you would want to improve. Make sure you are totally honest with yourself in this process. If you cant see it, ask a friend to assist and point out areas in which you seem to complain a lot about – it’s the biggest clue!

2 Listening to your Heart

To get to where you would like to be, you really want to spend some time listening inward to what your heart’s true desires are. It is that nudging voice, that passionate tug at the heart that may sometimes be laden with fear but yet always calling out to you to go at it. It’s that gut feel, that inner knowingness of what you are meant to be. Meditation or any practise that can help quiet the mind will get you into your heart space where you can really listen.

3 Owning your Life

When you know where you are and where you would like to go, you can now craft a vision of what you want to create. Without limiting yourself with questions of “How do I get there” but keep the focus on “What do I want to create” you can eliminate all the mind chatter and own up to what you really want for your life.

4 One Step at a Time

Change is inevitable but can also create great resistance. Sometimes all it takes is a leap of faith but most times you would just want to take that next step. There are no right or wrong steps. Remove the labels and just take one step forward. It may be taking that dance class or enrolling in a workshop on your favorite subject, or perhaps taking a break from that unfulfilling relationship. Just one step forward will allow you to discover the possibilities of whether this new state will suit you, or not. As if you have never played the piano, how would you ever know if you like it or not?

Remember, the key is to follow your heart and make empowered choices and you are well on your way. Happy Personal Independence Day! May you continue to celebrate the greatness of your existence everyday! After all, YOU are part of what makes a country great.

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