My personal power was something that I struggled trying to understand for a very long time. But when I finally got it, everything changed.
In order to begin creating a life that I wanted - full of happiness, confidence and success, right? - I had to accept complete and total responsibility for my life.
For such a long time I was pretty awesome at blaming everything and everyone else for how I was feeling; my manager, the bus driver, the news, family, friends, school, this is how you are supposed to react, it's what I've always done, it's what people expect.
And when things didn't work out, if I failed or made a mistake this approach meant it was always someones else's, or something else's fault...
You see, we've been taught to give our power away. We have been taught that other people, events and circumstances outside of us have power over our lives and that it is completely natural to react to whatever is happening around us.
Do you see how limiting this is?
We have been taught that we cannot control our responses to the world. We have been taught to react, not to chose our response.
Short lived and subjective, emotions establish our initial reactions to the world. Our responses and long-term attitudes about ourselves and the world we live in however, are determined by our feelings. You can't change your feelings or emotions but you can change your thoughts and behaviour.
And with practice you can begin to control your thoughts and behaviours.
Events that take place in our life are neutral, until we place a value on them.
The fact is, we are all in complete control of our lives regardless of our circumstances. Anytime you allow something outside of yourself to affect your mood or thoughts, you are giving your power away. And anytime that you place more value on other peoples desires and needs, you are undercutting your own pursuit for happiness.
When I started to see that my power was not only a feeling but a behaviour as well, the penny dropped and life started to change for the better. If you want to start living in your power the first step is to become aware of when you are giving it away.
Here are a few example of how and when women give away their personal power;
- Caring too much what other people think and as a result, following the crowd or doing the fashionable thing.
- Using words like "just"; "I'm just wondering if you got my email", "I just wanted to say".
- You’re driving in your car, and the driver in the lane next to you suddenly swerves into your lane and cuts you off making you feel angry.
- You're talking to a colleague in work over your break, and he or she talks about only negative things. This makes your feel negative, and down as well.
- Unnecessary apologising.
- Feeling like we have to do 'XYZ' so that someone else is happy or expects something of us.
- Our discomfort with self promotion, whether in our business or in a relationship.
- A desire to be liked by everyone around us.
- Failure to recognise our uniqueness– Comparing yourself to other women in any way, shape or form immediately sets you up for failure. Recognising your inherent value, raw beauty, unique gifts and letting go of the media's unrealistic definition of beauty is an essential step to regaining power over your body.
- Failing to recognise the most important relationship in your life – Only when you spend more time looking after everyone else is the significance of the relationship you have with yourself so apparent. It is the most important relationship you can have but as women we often experience guilt, tension or shame for this.
- Using other women's bodies as aspiration or goals - When we do this we are devaluing our unique gifts and identity. Wanting to be stronger, fitter, leaner, muscular or bigger versions of ourselves is OK but we should not pick and choose other women's body parts to validate these desires.
- Dieting - When we diet we relinquish our power and ability to be guided by our intuition, love for food, ability to practice moderation and trust. I acknowledge that some diets are a necessary precursor for many people but when we set unrealistic and unhealthy boundaries for ourselves we restrict and limit ourselves as well.
- Dressing to hide our bodies - Society has told us that there is a particular way to dress for our body shape that is flattering. As a result we experience shame, embarrassment and even disgust when we we show our bodies. When we take heed of this advice we are giving into the idea that our bodies should be covered because it doens't fit a perceioved social norm and that it is normal to do so.
- Apologising for the way that you look - You know when you run in to a friend you haven't seen in a while and you apologise for how you look or rationalise it to the other people? Or maybe you out a photo up on Social Media apologising for state of your hair, makeup, lights, angle? Stop doing that!
Do any of these sound familiar to you?
In many ways, women are expected to things that don't necessarily make us happy, but we rarely question. To feel empowered we must identify and honour what makes us happy, and pursue this instead. This means that we have to start to take responsibility over our lives.
You are in complete control of your life regardless of your circumstances. Anytime you allow something outside of yourself to affect your mood or thoughts, you are giving your power away. And anytime that you place more value on other peoples desires and needs, you are undercutting your own pursuit for happiness. It is OK to put yourself first!