By Joan Endicott
“I could never have imagined this level of freedom and independence two years ago, Joan! I am so grateful, happy and at peace with my life right now.” My heart swelled while my eyes welled with tears listening to my client share his emotional summary of his biggest wins and blessings from our coaching over the two years prior. When I first started coaching him in 2018, although very “successful,” he felt trapped and tethered; traveling three out of four weeks per month to at least five countries, connecting to thousands of people in his organization—too many of which had his direct cell number so he felt like he was on-call 24/7. He was highly stressed mentally and emotionally, he didn’t sleep/rest near enough, he was overworked and overwhelmed.
He so desperately wanted to change his life that he would put the tools and ideas into practice that I’d share with him immediately. Guess where I learned most of those valuable tools? Yep, HKU! Hard Knocks University. Quite sure I graduated with honors—possibly Magna Cum Laude. You see he was struggling with some of the exact challenges I experienced years prior in letting go of 1) what others think of me—and—of 2) what I am hoping to control for others.
Here’s the deal, we may not call it control, because that doesn’t sound good. In fact, it sounds downright, well…controlling. LOL! 😊
Personal freedom and independence lie in letting go of both!
Freedom – ability to act freely
A state in which a person is able to act and live as he or she chooses, without being subject to any undue restraints or restrictions.
Independence – freedom from control
Freedom from dependence on or control by another person, organization, or state.
Remember me sharing that I’m a recovering approval addict? I confessed to having wasted too much time worried about what other people thought, being more concerned about another broken humans’ opinion rather than being completely connected to my Creator’s. Well, in addition to letting go of what other people think of you, if you want to experience personal freedom and independence, I’ve learned through HKU that you also need to let go of your expectations and desires for others—no matter how just, noble and hope-filled they are.
One of the most challenging areas in my life to do this was as a mama. If you’re a parent, you know, it’s the toughest job you’ll ever love. As our kids get older, letting go is harder. Why? Because we love them so deeply and desperately. But no matter who it is, if it’s someone you love, you want God’s best for them so if they’re accepting less than that, it can be excruciatingly difficult to let go.
In the midst of some of my most agonizing letting go times in life, God gave me the gift of a perfectly timed and poignant dream that has served me and many others since. I dreamt I was running alongside a rushing river, shouting to my precious loved one, “I’m throwing the rope out. Grab the life preserver so I can help you!”
My legs and arms were cut and bleeding from flailing through the brush and branches. Any other day I would have stopped long ago from the exhaustion but my loved one was in danger and she needed me, so I pushed myself to keep going and running and yelling: “Hurry! Grab the rope so I can rescue you! You’re in danger!”
Finally, she grabbed it. I was so relieved and kept running to keep her in sight. But wait, what was she doing? She grabbed the ring and then…she looks like she’s throwing it back to me?!
“No, no—you don’t understand. There’s danger ahead. Real danger. I’m here to help you. Please! Please grab it and hold on while I help pull you to safety.” I threw it again. She grabbed it! Great…but then she did the same thing. Now painfully pleading, “What are you doing? Please grab it and let me help you. There’s a waterfall ahead; I want to save you—I love you! I’m throwing it again…please…”
As she was disappearing down the rushing river, I heard her say, “I don’t want you to save me. I don’t want to be rescued.”
Friend, you cannot rescue someone who doesn’t want to be rescued. If you keep trying, that not only does not help them, you end up compromising your own health, wellness, and life purpose. I know this all too well!
Rewind a few years. I’d been feeling extremely run down, exhausted and lethargic for long enough that I knew I needed to go to a doctor. The week prior, I had gone in for the blood work and tests he recommended so today was the day we’d find out the results. I was anxious to get answers for obvious personal reasons but also, on a professional level, it takes a lot of energy to do what I do and frankly, it’s not good advertising to even appear depressed, distressed, or dragging as a “motivational speaker.”
He came in wearing his crisp white lab coat, name embroidered over the heart, stethoscope around his neck, holding a manila patient folder which I knew held my test results. I was so ready to hear some good news! After the initial greetings, I said, “Bring it on, Doc! What can I do? Can you give me a jam-packed multi-vitamin A-Z shot that will make me walk out of here a refreshed, revived, renewed woman who’s rarin’ to go?” Although laughing while saying it, I was completely serious in hoping that was a viable option.
He began going over the results with me and most of those numbers meant nothing since I had no clue what to compare them to. Able to tell I was not getting the seriousness of my situation, he grew solemn. I can’t tell you anything else he said up to this point—but sitting directly across from me he leaned in even closer, put his hand on my crossed knee and looking me square in the eyes he said, “Joan, I need you to know you can die from this…”
NOW he had my attention! He went on, “I know you truly believe what you write and speak about because frankly, I’m not sure how you’re even physically functioning at the level you are with these numbers.” He pointed to a specific category on the page and said, “A healthy range for this is in the 70s, but people can get by in the 50s. Your number is 17.”
“Are you stressed?” he asked.
“No, I’m really not…at least I don’t think so,” I responded. His following questions were all directed around any life challenges, hurts, heartaches—aka, things that feel stressful. “The most important thing you need to do, Joan, is to keep your focus on reducing all stress.”
Are you like me—when a doctor says you’re too stressed and you need to lower it, you actually feel a power surge of stress shoot straight up through you?!
Thankfully, that day opened new doors of understanding and desires to learn more about stress, what it is, what it does, how to really reduce it.
So the first thing I did was to put my coaching hat on to coach myself. I started with writing a list of those challenges, hurts and heartaches. Another way to ask it is, when you think about it, what causes worry, unrest, or anxiousness? After writing that list out, I drew a line down the middle of a second sheet and on the top left wrote Things I Can’t Fix, Change or Control and on the top right, wrote Things I Can Fix, Change or Control. I took my first list and put each of those things in the appropriate category on the second page.
I was SHOCKED! The things that caused my greatest heartache (stress) were the things I had absolutely zero control over. That’s when my journey of finding freedom by declaring my personal independence began.
That July 4th I actually wrote out my own Declaration of Independence, which I shared with the loved one I’d been trying to help rescue but didn’t want rescued. I first apologized to her for anything I had done that seemed controlling. Next, I shared my painful path in seeking personal freedom and what God had been teaching me.
Then I shared what I wrote. “Today I’m declaring my independence. I will no longer carry any burden or heartache from decisions you make for your life. I will no longer feel responsible because I, in fact, am not. God’s given each of us a free will. I am responsible to God for mine and you are responsible to God for yours. I make this declaration by faith, not feeling. I know I will be fully and completely reliant on His supernatural power to accomplish this and finally be free.”
Is it time for you to create your own Declaration of Independence that will give you the peace, rest, ease, and personal freedom God desires for you?
Life lessons we get to learn:
- Get qualified help! God did not intend you to do it alone.
- You can’t rescue those who don’t want to be rescued. Stop throwing the rope!
- You are 100% responsible to God for you.
- They are 100% responsible to God for them.
- Control your controllable.
You cannot control what’s happening in the world. Focus on controlling what’s happening in your world.
The great news is, the more completely dependent on God I am for what I can and should control in my own life, the more I am aware of and able to let go of what I should not try to control in the life of another.
Grab your FREE copy of Joan’s “I Get To!”® book at JoanEndicott.com and sign up for her FREE blog videos. Joan Endicott is an Award-Winning Keynote Speaker, Author of “I Get To!”® founder of GIANT-Slayer Coaching and “WOW!” Women Owning Their Worth©. Her coaching reaches over 30 countries. Follow her on FB and IG–she posts encouraging words daily!