Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

How to Own Yourself In A World That Wants to Own You

The Tree That Owns It Self

The Tree That Owns Itself

If you’re not speaking your truth, whose are you speaking?  If you are not honoring your medicine,  who will midwife it into being?  – Ara Campbell

I haven’t read Free Will Astrology  for years, although I used to be an addict when I lived in Santa Cruz and the column ran in the Santa Cruz Weekly. As synchronicity goes, a friend posted a link on Facebook and curiosity brought me to an early December reading for my astrological sign on self-ownership:

Your mascot is a famous white oak in Athens, Georgia. It’s called the ‘Tree That Owns Itself.’ According to legend, it belongs to no person or institution, but only to itself. The earth in which it’s planted and the land around it are also its sole possession. With this icon as your inspiration, I invite you to enhance and celebrate your sovereignty during the next seven months. What actions will enable you to own yourself more thoroughly? How can you boost your autonomy and become, more than ever before, the boss of you? It’s prime time to expedite this effort.

Serendipitously, my personal intention for the preceding month read like this:

  • Trust myself
  • Respect my sensitivity
  • Set my boundaries
  • Honor my limits

I must have sensed this message in the offing, as self-sovereignty depends on the strength of these abilities although it’s not defined by them alone.

Owning Yourself In a World That Wants to Own You

I don’t think it’s easy to own yourself in this world.  To begin with, you’re subject to conditioning from your family and society.  In most cases, these forces pound you over the head repeatedly, not only to conform, but to fully buy into the dominant norms.

When I look at my life, I see I’ve been owned by people and my own obsessions; less so by possessions or money, but these often rule a person’s life.

At various times in my life, I’ve been owned by:

  • My parents, boyfriends, bosses, and mentors of all varieties.
  • Alcohol, food, and the desire for love.
  • Conditioning, confusion, low self-esteem, and fear.

In terms of the people, it wasn’t their fault.  Deep inside, I thought I must do what they say.

What about you?  Who or what controls your life?

I could be wrong, but I think it’s almost impossible to start off owning yourself.  Unless you’re the rare child gifted with clarity from early on, there’s much to be undone if you wish to align with your free spirit.

For many people, self-sovereignty only unfolds at a seemingly unpredictable pace as they tumble through the challenges of life, knocking off false bits through experience. A handful of pixie dust must be thrown into the mix from time-to-time as well.

Many people die as subjects to an imaginary King or Queen, never knowing what it means to own themselves.  Why do some people wake up and others stay asleep?  Luck, good karma, or magic – whatever you want to call – must have a place.  It could be a line from a blog post like this, an unexpected encounter with someone you admire, or a job gone awry that suddenly sets you on a new track.

There are dangers to not owning yourself, which Brené Brown sums up brilliantly:

If you trade your experience for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.

Potent clues like these tell you it might be time to step back and look at exactly how autonomous you are.  I would add global warming to the list as marketers hoodwink us into consuming more than we actually need to be happy.  Sadly, the consequences effect everyone worldwide.

What Is Self-Sovereignty?

When I speak of self-sovereignty, I don’t mean a political or economic movement like rights-based libertarianism or individualist anarchism.  To me, self-sovereignty means:

  • Peeling away they layers of conditioning so you can come to know your true self.
  • Knowing you are worthy. You have the right to exist and to thrive.
  • You know what you want.
  • You create the space to tune into yourself.
  • You forgive yourself.
  • You’re on top of your thoughts and emotions instead of subservient to them.
  • You’re not easily perturbed.
  • You have a voice.  You have a presence.
  • You are free of the control, expectations, and coercion of others.
  • You understand and appreciate the interconnectedness of all beings.
  • You know your actions have an effect for better or for worse.
  • You take responsibility for your thoughts, words, and actions, aiming for the highest good for yourself and others.
  • You feel grounded in yourself so you’re not easily knocked off-center when someone makes a suggestion about your life.
  • You’re self-reliant, but also have the confidence to ask for help when needed.

What did I miss?

Self-sovereignty isn’t about self-cherishing, self-absorption, or egotism.  It’s about removing the layers of the false self so your true self can shine.  Then you naturally impact others in the best way possible.

My mission for the next six months is to learn – in my being – all I can about self-ownership and to step more fully into myself.

Thus, I’ve chosen self-sovereignty for my 2016 guiding word.

I don’t have self-ownership all figured out. In fact, as I paged through my last year’s journal, I observed the gap between when I know in my heart and when I put the heart-wish into action.  At times, these two are many months apart as I fumble around following external markers.

A part of me almost wishes I hadn’t selected this word for the year.  As soon as it popped up, new boundary issues confronted me.  The first one I conquered easily.  The next ones proved more challenging, evoking deeper and darker emotions.

When Your Self-Sovereignty Is Challenged

What happens when your self-sovereignty is challenged?  You might:

  • Feel uncomfortable.
  • Go quiet and cold.
  • Feel angry and aggressive towards the perceived challenger.
  • Feel caught in a double bind.  You might want to please, but don’t want to do what the other person has in mind for you.
  • Feel very alone, as though no one understands you.
  • Obey, placing your own wishes to the side.
  • Or maybe you can hold your space!  Let’s all head there.

How do you respond?

Yes, change often feels uncomfortable, but when you open and move through it you find more happiness, trust, and freedom on the other side.  It’s so important to deeply know this, so movement forward doesn’t frighten you out of your wits.

Mixing Self-Sovereignty with Love, Grace, and Space

I know one of the lessons I’ll be learning in the coming months is how to own myself with love, grace, and space.

I’ll need to get to know this fury inside that manifests in all these burdensome ways – from cool to hot aggression – and hear the messages she holds for me.  I’ll need to carefully purge this festering wound that says, “You must do what they say.”  I’ll need to separate my projections from what another person actually means, recognizing their ideas may come from a warm spot in their heart.

When someone has a solution for my life, my wish is to be I’ll be able to say, with a sense of love, grace, and space, “Thank you.  I’ll think about that.”  I may take their suggestions into consideration if they feel like a good fit.  But I won’t just collapse into obedience.  I’ll be practicing knowing myself, honoring my intuition, respecting my wishes, and making the right decision for me.

So that’s my word for the coming year:  Self-Sovereignty.

How about you?  Have you chosen a word as a guiding star for the coming year? And, what about self-sovereignty?  Where do you fall on the spectrum from owning yourself to obeying others.  I would love to hear!

Thank you for reading!  I appreciate your presence.  If you enjoyed this article, sign up for free blog posts by email and please take a moment to share it.  May you be well, happy, and safe – always.  With love, Sandra


The Best of Always Well Within 2015


An Invitation…


  1. There have been many times I have been owned but those lessons taught me to own myself now…my thoughts, my time, my actions. I bristle when someone tries to tell me how to think or be….I look forward to hearing more about this and your journey. My word is Innovate this year…looking forward to the adventure.

    • That’s so true, Donna! Everything we experience can contribute to eventually owning ourself. I like this description: “bristle.” It’s so clear and vidid and such a good indication that something is not right.

      Innovate sounds so exciting to me. I look forward to hearing more about how your journey with this word unfolds. Thanks for sharing your word.

  2. I have been a “good girl” and a people pleaser all of my life! But I am really making progress with being myself—-nowhere near perfect yet, but definitely working on it and being really gentle with myself when I am unable to hold a boundary. My word for the year is “healing” and that means healing on all levels. Happy New Year, dear Sandra <3

    • That’s terrific, Jean. I love that you’re gentle with yourself. I’m wishing healing on all levels in this new year!

  3. I’ve read this a few different times today, Sandra – I love it and there is much to think about and feel into!

    Self-sovereignty is very new to me – I’ve only begun to explore it in the last two years or so, first through my business, which then extended to me. I learned early on, in the toddler stage, that I don’t own myself. My parents were divorced when I was an infant and my mom took me during a custody visit and had me out-of-state and ‘underground’ for a few years while my dad worked the legal system and my memory kicks in the day a police officer escorted me from my mom’s car to my dad’s. I didn’t feel like I owned anything about myself. It took until two years ago (after much inner work, healing and learning) to think about self-sovereignty.

    I had been in abuse patterns from childhood on and those patterns owned me (and might still have a small percentage).

    Today, when I think about this question ‘who owns me’ – well, Source, Love, Light (the sun, moon, stars), Nature, flow ‘own me’ but it’s my choice to connect and open to/with this energy, so that’s where the sovereignty comes in. I love this question and will ponder it as I move through this week. I’m looking forward to reading more of your insights on this theme as you year unfolds!

    My guiding word this year is luminous. It has to do with allowing my heart-light to shine and not dimming it.

    • Dear Joy,

      You have been through so much as a child and I’m always inspired by how you are now willing to center in love. My impression is that you rule your world, but I know self-sovereignty is a process and it takes time to heal abuse patterns. So, I would think, we’re all on a spectrum, gradually moving toward more self-sovereignty.

      I think you are right, there’s a lot here to consider and quite a bit for me to work
      with over the next 6 months. I’m excited about this!

      “Luminous” seems perfect for you, Joy! May your heart-light always shine brightly!

  4. Sandra,
    I always read your blog and come away inspired!
    Thank you!

  5. You chose such a powerful word/concept, Sandra

    Self-sovereignty is not something that many of us think about. I think you are right in that we often go through life answering/fulfilling others’ expectations or requests.

    One has to really get down to one’s essence, if you will, to separate from one’s primary caregivers from childhood and then to start examining the various thoughts/attitudes/feelings/beliefs you’ve had/developed since childhood to see who you are, what you think and what you want… It is deep and powerful work. I’m wishing you much success in this liberating step!

    My three words for this year are: Nourish, Simplify and Charge!

    Happy New Year!

    • Hi Dorlee,

      Yes, I agree this is deep and powerful work. I’m looking forward to an exciting year.

      Thanks for sharing your words for the year. Most of us could use more of these!

  6. What a beautifully written article Sandra! I love the idea of self-sovereignity, and it’s something that I have a mixed relationship with – on the one hand, having given up my ‘traditional life’ (9-5 job, mortgage, car, life in London) for a life of location independence and digital nomad-ism in Thailand, I’m definitely making some of my own decisions, on the other hand, I’m a people pleaser, so can definitely see places where I need to step up in this area!

    I’ve chosen the word ‘delight’ for 2016, and I’m looking forward to living it every day 🙂

    • You’ve taken some huge steps, Ellen. I admire your courage. I understand about the people pleasing.I think self-sovereignty may be a life long project, where we uncover more areas like this as we move forward. But we become stronger as we do and they become smaller!

  7. Betsy

    I’ve read this post twice now and it has helped me get clear on some big issues in my life: doing what I need to do for myself vs what others would either like me to do (coming from a place of kindness usually) or expect me to do (usually not so kind). Having the awareness to not make projections or to bristle (I love that word, too!) unnecessarily, are big things for me. But sometimes, I AM going to bristle and bristling is a sign and that is ok. When too much is asked of me, like going to social events, taking family vacations, weddings, baby showers, family reunions, etc etc etc, I, being more of an introvert, just flip out. Shoving these feelings aside and going along with the group just makes me feel worse in the end. I, too, need to set boundaries, trust myself, follow through with self care and look after myself. I mean, others do what they want. They say “no” and move on. I struggle with this so much and want to make progress in this area THIS YEAR. Thanks sandra!!!

    • Yeah, Betsy! That’s a great affirmation of yourself and a a terrific aspiration for this year. I know it’s not easy, but baby steps really do add up. We’ll be walking this path together. How nice!

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