“He who controls others may feel powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.” Lao Tzu in the Tao Te Ching
“When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.” Anonymous
“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” Alice Walker
It is so easy to relinquish your power to someone or something. With addictions, you surrender your power to a substance, or an activity. With people, you allow others to decide how you will feel and behave.
Next time you feel lousy, ask yourself:
Am I handing my power over to someone or something?
If so, reclaim it! Consciously decide to take it back. Remind yourself: no one and no thing is the boss of you.
In the moment, you may feel weak, sad, impotent, angry, worthless, anxious, or something else. Luckily, a feeling isn’t a fact. The truth is, even if you are feeling downright awful you can still reclaim your power.
Start with the suggestion above. If you are not ready for that just let yourself sit with whatever you are feeling. Use your power to make it OK to be where you are now. Give yourself that gift, rather than the self-inflicted punishment that comes from fighting what is. It may not feel good, but it’s fine and you can stand it. It won’t last.
When you are in a different frame of mind, tackle the larger issue. Do you really want a substance or activity controlling your life? Do you enjoy letting people push your buttons? Of course not.
If someone says something that catalyzes a negative reaction, use paradoxical intention and agree with them. This is the last thing they expect, and the opposite of what you have previously done; but, it is incredibly empowering. Set aside your doubt that this incongruent technique will work and try it. Scour their comment for something with which you can honestly agree. Saying it will immediately take the wind out of their sails and you will feel in control.
Practice assertiveness. The essence of assertiveness is repetition. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel with each reason why you won’t do what someone wants you to. Just say something like: “I have other plans.” When the person responds with, “Oh, come on, what could be so important that you don’t want to do X, Y, or Z?” Just say, “I know you’re disappointed, but I have other plans.” It doesn’t matter what your plans are. They could be staring into space, eating a brownie really slowly, or cleaning out your garage. It’s irrelevant. There’s something else you want to do. You don’t owe anyone an explanation of why you’re choosing it over spending time with them. Taking care of yourself and doing your heart’s desire will make you, and everyone you come in contact with, happier. If you really enjoy this person’s company suggest another time; otherwise, get off the phone or away from them ASAP.
Many people have trouble being assertive because they don’t believe they can ask for, and get, what they want. This is the time to fake it ’til you make it. Think of someone you know who is assertive and pretend you are that person. How would she handle this situation?
No one likes giving a response they know will be met with disappointment, so resist the urge to embellish. Often, this is where people lose their resolve, and allow their friend or family member to influence them. Unfortunately, the result is you’re doing something you don’t want to do and feeling resentful. If you act assertively, and honestly, your relationships will benefit. Not only will you feel more self respect, you will give others a cosmic permission slip to ask for what they want by setting an assertive example.
If you have an addiction, get help. There are on-line groups, 12 step meetings, therapists, books, family, and friends waiting for you to reach out. (If you choose to see a therapist make sure they understand addiction and OCD.) Reclaiming your power over yourself is a heady, wonderful experience.
Use affirmations to shore up your resolve (see Affirmations, also see Powerlessness, Control, & Acceptance.)
We become what we practice, so practice thinking positively. Assume you will achieve the freedom you want. Picture it. Daydream in detail about a life where you are the captain of your own ship. Think about anything at which you have succeeded. Didn’t you envision it happening? Then, take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Once you pay attention and focus your energy on what you want doors will open. Actually, they are opening all the time it’s just that your own limiting thoughts of what you can and can’t do, what you can and can’t have, and who you can and can’t be get in the way. Allow goodness, success, peace, and self-confidence to grow by inviting them in. At first, it may be difficult to combat those old notions of how you are and how you can be. Persevere. Show yourself the strength of your resolve.
Recent neuropsychological research suggests we can change our brains; however, it requires lots of repetition. What gets fired gets wired. If you want to re-wire your brain you need to practice new ways of thinking. All forms of cognitive-behavior therapy (including the new age version espoused by the Hicks’), rational-emotive behavior therapy, as well as ancient techniques like yoga and meditation help you think differently. Thinking differently changes your brain chemistry, yielding better feelings.
I know there are times when you feel lower than a snake’s wiggle and it’s easy to succumb to self-downing, depression, anxiety, or hopelessness. Those feelings come from what you think. Luckily, you get to choose what you want to put in your brain, the same way you can choose which foods to eat. It may not be second nature, yet, but noticing an unhelpful thought and choosing to think something soothing, uplifting, or energizing can become a habit. Be patient, these cognitive shifts don’t happen quickly, and they can feel awkward when you first attempt them. In time, the process will become automatic.
Have faith in your ability to create the life you envision. Practice assuming the best. You will conquer what you want to conquer and achieve what you want to achieve. It may sound counter-intuitive, but you can accept where you are and immerse yourself in positive thoughts at the same time. Read books that make you feel good, watch the video link (bottom right hand side of this page) Positive Pause, listen to Abraham-Hicks’ CDs, and cultivate that inner smile. You know, the one that naturally spreads across your face when sense all your possibilities.
Copyright Nicole S. Urdang