In the field of Ontological Design, we hold that there are five basic linguistics acts. This means that in any language in the world, whenever a person is speaking, he or she is always performing one of five available linguistic moves. One of those moves is called the Declaration.
Declarations are very powerful because once you make one, you change the world. For example, when you declare “I love you,” your relationship is different from that moment on. When the marriage officiant declares “I now pronounce you husband and wife,” the identity of two people is changed in the eyes of the world.
We also make declarations to ourselves, but we often don’t notice that we’ve done this or don’t realize how important it is. Begin to notice what big promises you’ve made to yourself in your life, and notice how you have blindly marched to the beat of that drum and designed your life to align with that promise.
For example, I remember the first time I had my heart broken as a young girl. I was just devastated, and I promised myself: “I will never get hurt again.” For years afterward, without quite realizing why, I didn’t enter into a committed romantic relationship. I struggled to be vulnerable in conversations while on dates, and I found myself pretty lonely. It took me years to realize that I had been blindly and unconsciously designing my life in a particular way based on the declaration I made that I would never get hurt again. At the time I made the declaration, it seemed like the only way to protect myself from pain. But it finally became clear to me that I was paying a huge price for living in that declaration. In order to make sure I didn’t get hurt, I had to remain distant and safe, and that meant I was missing the intimacy and connection that I really wanted. I had to learn to redesign that declaration because the way it had me living my life wasn’t working for me.
As human beings, we all do this in one way or another, and if you are willing to take a look, you might discover the same thing that I did – that living our lives without examining the big, unconscious declarations we’ve made can stop us from getting the results we say we want.
Sometimes when we are extremely triggered by something that another person says or does, it can be a sign that at some point in our past, we made a big declaration to ourselves. These declarations usually involve a promise about “never” or “always.” Examples include declarations like: “I will never, ever behave that way” or “No matter what happens, I will always look cool and appropriate.”
So ask yourself:
- What declarations are you living in?
- What is the payoff, and what is the cost?
- Are these declarations working for you?
- Are you getting the results you say you want?
If not, perhaps it’s time for a change.