freedom, agency, choices, joy

Exploring the Values of Freedom and Agency

Freedom in America

The idea of freedom is a value many people hold dear. As we celebrate two holidays focused on freedom—Juneteenth and the 4th of July within the last month—I thought it would be fitting to write about this value.

Many people in America cherish freedom in various forms. Some view it as having the resources to do whatever they wish without limitations. Others see it as the ability to make personal decisions for themselves. Still, others perceive it as having choices in how to live their lives. For many years, I believed my value of freedom was based on the idea that I wanted to make my own choices.

Recently, I’ve noticed that some people are reluctant to use the word “freedom” for various reasons. Some feel it is too politically charged, while others believe many people are reckless with their freedom.

Let’s discuss this. I like Ronald Reagan’s quote: “With freedom comes responsibility, a responsibility that can only be met by the individual.”

As humans, we are part of this beautiful ecosystem. While we have rights and freedoms, our freedoms should not come at the expense of others, preventing them from valuing freedom as well.

Agency vs Freedom

Because of this, I have come to value “agency” rather than “freedom.” I define agency as the capacity to act or exert power. I want to control myself—I want to choose where I live, pursue the hobbies I desire while ensuring that people around me are safe, and take care of my body as I wish. I also want to ensure that others have the same ability. My ability to make a choice should not impact you. I maintain respect and honor for your ability to stand for what you believe in, and I wish that you honor my ability to have agency for myself.

Agency is the highest level of personal competence. To have agency, I must be clear about what I truly want and why I desire it. If you are unaware of what you want, you cannot make decisions, and you allow others to make decisions for you.

An Example

I worked with a client who was in a marriage where her spouse made all the decisions. She had always wanted to start a business, but her husband wanted her to stay home and help with his business. She knew she had a great business idea but kept pushing her feelings down. She felt low because she had no agency to live out her dream.

After realizing the importance of having her resources and agency, she understood that she needed to make changes to feel joy. She worked hard to advance her business idea and now loves launching her own business. Their marriage is stronger because she seeks advice from her husband, and they both feel satisfied.

Conclustion

Understanding the difference between freedom and agency can lead to a more fulfilling life. While freedom is essential in our country, agency empowers us to make personal choices and respect others’ ability to do the same. By valuing agency, we can achieve personal competence and create a world where everyone can pursue their dreams without hindering others.

I am curious know, what does agency mean to you, and how do you exercise it in your life. If you want to learn your values, click here to download my values exercise.

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