Slavery or Service?

Image by mookieass on Flikr Creative Commons

Image by mookieass on Flikr Creative Commons

Human trafficking has again been prominent in the UK media.

How a society treats its most vulnerable members is said to be an indicator of its state of advancement. Slavery occurs, in one form or another, even when this appalling result of a lack of mutual respect and acceptance has been made technically unlawful. It could be said to be one of the characteristics of a less advanced society,

What is the mindset that supports the continuation of slavery and how might we all be contributing to it in how we treat ourselves?

When we enslave another, we do our best to overpower and dominate them against their will. This might involve any number of restrictions on how the other can act – an attempt at curtailing their freedom.

Remarkably, many of us do this to ourselves on a regular basis by depriving ourselves of some basic freedoms of thought and thus disempowering ourselves. The Industrial Growth Society, according to David Korten in The Great Turning, is dependent on its members being willing to be slaves in the sense of relinquishing their autonomy to the state or to monopolising organisations. As we move towards a more conscious and evolved way of operating, the society that results (Earth Based Community, according to Korten) begins to show signs of thriving on service. This is service in its purest sense of regarding the gifts of nature as being for sharing (a form of unity consciousness), rather than for hoarding (separation consciousness).

Slavery involves giving our power away, whereas the opposite is self-empowerment, which frees us to be our best in service to others and ultimately to life itself.

How to spot slavery in ourselves.

I’ve been asking myself what the differences are in the mindset of those who are operating from a mode of slavery, to those who are operating from a mode of self-empowerment and service. And I came up with a table of tell-tale questions that I’ve noticed myself pondering when in these mind states:



What are the obstacles?

What are my limitations, given these obstacles?

What would others think?

What would/does this prevent me doing?

How does this trigger my worst behaviour patterns?

What do I want to do?

How do I do it, regardless of the obstacles?

What do I think?

What else would this enable me to do?

How does the way I feel about this inform me about where I need to grow?

Guess which set of questions is more fun and life-affirming to answer?

A personal journey from slavery to service.

Nicki was keen to start her own catering business. She’d worked for many food businesses as a very competent chef, creating carefully crafted meals from fresh, high quality ingredients that made healthy profits for her employers. But now Nicki felt enslaved by her latest job. She longed for more flexible working hours, a fairer share of the financial rewards and the creative freedom needed to design and develop her own unique recipes. What Nicki chose to tell herself about her enslavement in her job led her to arguewith her employer on a regular basis. We spent several coaching sessions mapping out Nicki’s ideal business and the steps she might take in order to get it off the ground. But then we hit a snag – Nicki found she was unable to complete the tasks she set herself, each week finding ways to procrastinate in order to avoid succeeding. When I asked Nicki what she was telling herself about the incomplete tasks, she told me:  ‘That’s just how I am. I never do anything I promise myself.’ She was still being the rebellious slave even to herself, even though she was now facing herself as her own boss! We focussed on working through this obstacle and evolving the mindset that was keeping Nicki in mental and emotional slavery. She was then able to allow herself the freedom to serve herself from a position of self-empowerment, commitment and reliability and her business – her service to others –  started to take off.


5 Responses to Slavery or Service?

  1. rajiv February 4, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

    thanks sally, much appreciate your insight

  2. lindy February 5, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    Thanks Sally. Fruitful food for thought. I found the case study a useful device for self reflection. Procrastination as a form of slavery within oneself… and transforming this into reliability as a form of derive and freedom.

  3. sallylever February 5, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

    Good to hear from you again, Rajiv.

    Hi Lindy and thanks for your comment. Glad to hear it proved useful.

  4. Ali February 9, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    Sally, thank you for the enormously valuable articles you’re publishing!! All part of staying awake, alert and consciously alive :)

  5. sallylever February 10, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    Good to know you’re enjoying them, Ali.

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