It may begin as a subtle feeling of agitation or irritability when you first realise you’re in a situation or committed to an agreement that doesn’t feel right for you. The problem is, the more awareness you begin to feel around it the stronger the discomfort. Eventually, those subtle feelings give way to more potent and recognisable manifestations of frustration and anger.
The usual two responses
Because we live in a society that hasn’t taught us to deal constructively with anger, two responses are common. Either the anger is externalised, we seek blame and project it onto the one we presume manipulated us and took our personal power.
Or we turn the anger inwards on ourselves. ‘Why am I here again, in this type of situation, with this type of person, what is wrong with me, why can’t I make different choices, follow through, be stronger, better etc.’
Both the external and internal blame options are devastating on the body, mind and spirit. It’s draining for a start. When we’re disempowered we can often feel contracted, tight, small, tired, zapped of enthusiasm, ripped off, pushed down and oppressed. Physically, our digestion, sleep, immunity and levels of pain can all be affected by the muscular tension and cascade of stress hormones pulsing through the body.
There’s also a much deeper disappointment that comes after the anger. It feels like a sinking and shrinking of our self-confidence and esteem. It’s when blame, either self or on others becomes shame. Shame is a judgment on who we are. That we’ve done wrong and are therefore unworthy of love and connection. Shame is an insidious state that negatively impacts future thoughts and action.
A third way
There is a third way to deal with the emotions when you’ve become aware of giving your power away and it requires some conscious effort to break either of the patterns above (usually we have a default) and do something different.
The third way revolves around awareness and compassion. Part one is waking up to the present moment, what’s happening for you right now, how you are feeling about a situation you find yourself in and what’s the response.
It’s important to try to identify the response in your body and compare that to the response in your mind because it’s common for them to be out of alignment and this is what ultimately confuses and keeps you stuck or repeating those patterns.
For example, your body may feel de-energised, tired, contracted, like it’s pulling away from the person or situation. Your mind may feel congruent to that if there is fatigue, mental fog, thoughts that are confusing, agitated, sad, angry, annoyed, afraid.
Or, your mind may be working overtime to rationalise the situation by telling you ‘everything is fine, this is just what needs to happen, where you need to be right now, who you need to be with, stick with it, there’s no other option’ etc.
Let’s call BS on one thing; There is always another option! So when this thought pops in, you know it’s the inner critic or the fearful part of your mind making up stories and limiting your perception of what’s possible.
Examples of how you might be giving away your power
Saying Yes when you mean No or aren’t quite sure
We’ve all done this. Sometimes you know as you’re are saying yes or nodding or signing your name that it isn’t what you really want. Sometimes it’s later, as the event draws nearer or the wheels begin to turn on whatever the agreement was. It could even be halfway through a bad date that the awareness kicks in and you realise that subtle feeling of resistance that you ignored has now led to a stickier situation. When in doubt, use this simple trick ‘Thank you, I’ll think about it’.
Allowing yourself to continually procrastinate
When you know you need to take action on something important like your taxes, sending a difficult email or making a call and you put it off, it doesn’t go away. In fact the thing grows in size and begins to take even more energy the longer you shy away from it. If it’s always at the back of your mind or at the bottom of your to do list day after day, it’s taking your power by taking precious energy to shut it out and focus. Get it done and move on!
Discounting when you can’t afford it
This is a big one for heart-centred entrepreneurs, especially women who often in the beginning feel that discounting their time or services will help others and help themselves by getting clients. Discounting is okay if you can afford it, it fits your values and there is a benefit to you and the person getting the discount. But it’s not okay and impinging on your personal power when you really can’t afford to do it, you’re undervaluing what you offer and you’re lowering the value for the client too. In these cases, it doesn’t end up helping anyone.
Too much time consuming other people’s lives
How does scrolling, liking, commenting and passively consuming the lives of others help to enhance your own personal power? It’s not one of the top ways I know of to fill your cup, increase energy and make yourself feel good. In fact, for many people it does the opposite. The ego starts noticing what others have that you don’t, comparisonitis kicks in and your mood can plummet.
If you are someone with goals and dreams you need to pay attention to how much of your time is spent this way. It’s a common fact that the creators of social media platforms did not get to that level of business success by being consumers of their creations.
Worrying about what others will think
A classic way to give away your power comes from neglecting to check in with yourself about what your needs and desires are and instead allowing others around you to dictate your life’s decisions. People prone to over-giving (giving without receiving), caring for others and putting themselves last are often giving away their power in this way. This is where it’s really important to be a friend to yourself and check in with your own needs.
One of the more blatant ways to give away your power is through feeding an addiction. Addictive substances and behaviours can be taboo, illegal and commonly agreed upon as destructive but they can equally be socially acceptable things like caffeine, alcohol, shopping and gossip that all provide a little hit of neurotransmitter reward in the brain and keep you coming back, (often unconsciously) for more. Addictions take time and support to work through and they are nothing to be ashamed of. Just begin with compassionate awareness of where they may be impacting you negatively. Having full awareness is the first step to healing.
Blindly following disempowering gurus or leaders
The most shocking example of this is cult leaders who lure in the vulnerable, break them down and rebuild them into loyal disciples who will do anything to uphold the beliefs of the guru or leader. However on a far more subtle level many people follow and believe what they hear or read every day. The mainstream media is a great example. High profile social influencers are another. ‘Know – like – trust’ is a well known term in business circles but if that extends to ‘blindly believe – buy without need – worship’ it may no longer be a healthy admiration.
Having loose boundaries
Having loose boundaries is actually a driver for many of the above situations. With firm boundaries, you know who you are, what you want and where your priorities lie. This allows you to make good decisions, based on your personal values and say no to anything not in alignment. Loose boundaries may be a lovely approach on holidays but if you have specific things you’d like to achieve or just specific ways you’d like to feel, boundaries help to keep you in the driver’s seat of your own life. If you’re struggling with any of this please sing out, I’d love to chat.