Power is a word that is easily thrown around and used many ways. But have you ever stopped to consider the idea that you have your own personal store of power?
We have more control of our life than we give ourselves credit for and it comes from our store of personal power. In fact, we tap into and expand our personal power many times daily, every time we make a wise choice that promotes our wellbeing.
And, conversely, we deplete our personal power every time we make a choice that subtracts from our wellbeing.
Procrastination, avoiding confrontation, fearing rejection and putting others' needs in front of our own, along with valuing the opinions of others above our own feelings and needs are all dangerous markers indicating a loss of personal power.
Sadly, many people end up giving away or depleting their personal power and they don't even realise they are doing it. They will, however, feel the effects and eventually the effects get strong enough to grab their attention long enough to want to do something about it.
Others lack personal power and self-discipline simply because they have invested belief in agreements about being powerless and now those deceptive beliefs and thoughts dictate their perceptions and rule their lives.
When you no longer feel in control of your life, and unhappiness, depression, angst and anxiety begin to rule, it's a sure signal that you've lost control and given away a great deal of your personal power. It's a weak and nearly helpless feeling.
Other signs that your personal power has been compromised include ongoing tiredness (after all, your energy reserves have been depleted), frustration (you are tired, so frustration sets in easily), anger or resentment.
All these feelings represent someone whose personal power has been compromised causing them to be "out of control".
The good news is, personal power is something that can be boosted, reclaimed and regained. And it has nothing at all to do with dominating or controlling others or anything outside of ourselves.
According to Robert Firestone, PhD, in his book The Ethics of Interpersonal Relationships, "personal power is more an attitude or state of mind than an attempt to manoeuvre or control others".
"It is based on competence, vision, positive personal qualities and service. When externalised, it is likely to be more generous, creative and humane than other forms of power."
Realising and accepting we have a lack of personal power is the first step towards healing and reclaiming it. And, self-awareness is the key that gets us there.
Let's do a little examination. Where are you on your totem pole of importance? If you aren't sure, I suggest you make a list of tasks you need to complete for the day and another for the week.
Examine these lists. Where have you put your own personal needs? Has everyone else's appointments, needs and concerns bumped you to the back-burner? Do you fill in your own needs with what little space is left after honouring the needs of others?
If so, you have it backwards. Your needs should come first (true needs, not excess). Give your gym workouts the same consideration you would a doctor's appointment.
Schedule shared fun-times with your friends and family, allow enough time to shop for healthy foods and budget your income (as best as possible) to include them.
This creates a healthy, happy, countenance and spirit. This is what empowers you and in turn, helps others.
Once you examine your list and clearly see that you have not given yourself the same kind of love, appreciation and attention you are giving others, you can then take the initiative to reverse these habits.
Honour yourself and your own needs first and watch your personal power soar.
Action steps to get you started
Some valuable action steps you can tap into to regain personal power include:
Taking care and focusing on your own needs FIRST. If you don't put on our oxygen mask first how can you expect to help others with theirs? A compromised confidence can't help anything or anyone.
Removing toxic relationships and situations from your life. What good does it do to entertain "downers?" Another true energy/power thief and something that needs eliminating. You will feel immediate relief when unloading the "freeloaders".
Not trying to make everyone happy or feel responsible for their happiness. That's not your job and only depletes your own energy reserves. True lasting happiness is personal and can only be attained within.
Allowing others the freedom to live their own life and create their own happiness as you would like the space for your own. Give up control. The only person you should look to controlling is you because that's the only energy you have control of.
Letting go of guilt and forgiving yourself and others for past errors. Guilt is dead weight and has no positive outcomes. You'll never forgive others until you forgive yourself for the same infractions.
Accepting, honouring and expressing your authentic self always.. Anything less is a negative swipe at your personal power.
We need a healthy dose of personal power to refrain from energy-draining habits, to remove them permanently and replace them with healthier alternatives.
This is the way to exact permanent healthy change in our lives.
Remember, when your personal power is weak, so too is your influence on yourself and others.
However, when your personal power is healthy and strong, you will enjoy positive perceptions about yourself and this love will reflect out to help and lift those around you.
• Carolyn Hansen is co-owner of Anytime Fitness.