Do you own yourself? No, this isn’t some type of trick question. It’s actually an important one that everyone should ask themselves from time to time. While it’s admirable to own your home, car, or business, these things are all superficial. There are deeper aspects of existence that we must take ownership of in order to succeed, both as individuals and as members of society. These form the basis of what’s commonly referred to as individual ownership, or personal sovereignty.
What is Sovereignty?
The term “sovereignty” means supreme power or authority. In most cases, it’s applied to a self-governing state. A “sovereign” is an individual with ultimate authority over someone or something. This is normally applied to gods or monarchs. Thus, the term “personal sovereignty” implies the authority of an individual over their own life and destiny. In other words, it describes free will.
Rights and Responsibility
A sovereign country makes decisions in their own national interest, without coercion by a foreign government. In the same way, a sovereign individual makes decisions for themselves, free of the control of others. This is to the extent that free will is possible, of course. In civilized society, sovereignty does not mean you can do anything you want without repercussions. In enjoying your sovereignty, you must also remember to respect the sovereignty of others.
As important as personal sovereignty is, it comes at a price and sometimes that price can be quite high. Personal responsibility is the price you pay for exercising your free will, since society expects you to do so in a way that brings no harm to others. The more you use your free will, the less you’ll be able to blame others, or even your circumstances (past or present), for the results of your actions.
Careless exercise of your free will can lead to regrettable consequences. If you use it to hurt or manipulate others, you can expect society to step in and put a stop to it. We see this all the time in situations where simply exercising one’s freedom of speech can get large numbers of people worked up into a violent frenzy. This phenomenon is often used by tyrannical governments as a justification for the limits they place on personal freedom.
Sovereignty and Personal Power
A person who is willing to take charge of themselves and their decisions stands a better chance of succeeding in life. This is in contrast to those who always have some excuse for why they can’t do certain things. If you think carefully about some of the people you know, you can probably think of at least one person who has untapped potential, but always blames their circumstances on external factors.
I’m not saying that anyone’s got it easy. To be clear, we all have challenges – some more than others. But regardless of what struggles you might face, someone out there has had it worse and still taken charge of their situation. In other words, they chose to own it! And in doing so, they tapped into a type of personal power that eludes countless others. Remember that it’s your decision to either make the best of what you’ve got or sit back and settle for less.
Think about some of your own accomplishments. Would you even remember them if they had come easily? Nothing in life is easy and it’s probably better that way. If it were, you might never experience the joy that comes with victory, after a lengthy battle with adversity. Your power to reach higher and accomplish more is largely the result of your willingness to take chances and own the consequences, when things don’t go as smoothly as you would have liked.
When something seems hard, you need only ask yourself how badly you want it. If you can own the effort required, you’ll eventually own the fruits of your labor.
Sovereignty and Freedom
When it comes to freedom, you’re always free to think as you please. That’s the one thing no one can take from you, since they can’t get inside your mind to control it. In a sense, that’s the ultimate freedom, because it’s where you’ll find the freedom to choose your response to any situation. Even children are taught from an early age that the more responsibility they demonstrate, the more privileges they will earn. By teaching them the relationship between freedom and responsibility early, a seed is planted in their minds about the importance of making good choices and owning the results.
Even in a place where your right to speak isn’t recognized, your freedom to think is what helps you decide whether you’re willing to accept the consequences of speaking out or not. That is still your choice and you own it. Countless freedom fighters and martyrs have decided that calling attention to their plight was preferable to living under extreme oppression, even while knowing that it could cost them their lives. That seems like a difficult choice to make, but for them, it was the one with the greatest impact and the one that would most define them.
If it feels like there’s a war going on for your mind, that’s because there is. Ultimately, your body and mind belong to you. However, it’s UP TO YOU to take full charge of it. There’s nothing worthwhile to be gained from instant gratification. If your attention is focused on cheap distractions with no real value, you’ll have a harder time improving yourself. Only by creating the strongest and smartest version of yourself will you be able to shoulder the full weight of self-ownership.