Posts Tagged ‘Personal Power’

Journaling for Better Emotional Health

Article submitted by guest author Kelly Simmerman

When I was a teenager, I kept a diary hidden under my mattress. It was a place to confess my struggles and fears without judgment or punishment. It felt good to get all those thoughts and feelings out of my head and down on paper. The world seemed clearer.

Photo Credit Jeff James

I stopped using a diary when I got older. But the concept and its benefits still apply. Now, it’s called journaling. It’s simply writing down your thoughts and feelings to understand them more clearly. And if you struggle with stress, depression, or anxiety, keeping a journal can be a great idea. It can help you gain control of your emotions and improve your emotional health.

One of the ways to deal with any overwhelming emotion is to find a healthy way to express yourself. This makes a journal a breakthrough tool in managing issues such as:

–Anxiety

–Stress

–Depression

–Moodiness

–Problems, fears, and concerns

–Inner critique

Tracking feelings day-to-day is essential. That way, we can recognize triggers and learn ways to better control them. Also, identifying and calling out negative thoughts and behaviors offers clarity.

Photo Credit Ben White

Once you’ve identified your stressors, you can work on a plan to resolve the problems and reduce your stress, providing an opportunity for positive self-talk and better outcomes.

Researchers found that writing three to five times for 15 minutes a session was effective to help participants deal with emotional and even traumatic events. “Those who do so generally have significantly better physical and psychological outcomes compared with those who write about neutral topics,” said Karen Baikie and Kay Wilhelm, the authors of the article published by the Cambridge University Press.

I’m sure, as coaches and therapists, you know the basics of how to journal, so I won’t bore you with too many details about the how. I will say this… Journaling is most effective when you do it every day. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar or sentence structure. The only rule is that once you begin writing, you continue until the time is up.

Photo Credit Hanna Olinger

Also, notice your body as you write. Be aware of the experience of writing. Notice words that made your shoulders hunch as you wrote them, observe where you gripped the pen tighter, or your breathing eased. This is putting you in relationship with your writing and allowing you to witness your brain’s processes.

Putting a pen to paper is a cathartic and private way for you to deal with the stress of your daily life, whatever that stress might be. When you keep a journal, you’re able to approach and release the anxiety you have. Using a journal allows you to process your emotions in a place that is safe and secure like sharing secrets with a best friend who never judges.

“Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.”       

— Natalie Goldberg

Long Term Outcomes

• Improved mood/affect
• Helps prioritize problems, fears, and concerns
• Feeling of greater psychological well-being
• Reduced depressive symptoms
• Reduced absenteeism from work
• Quicker re-employment after job loss
• Improved working memory
• Track progress in coaching or therapy work

Why Does This Happen

Writing heals, empowers and transforms. Whether in a journal, a travel log, writing lyrics or poetry, to composing a love letter, writing allows us to clear our mind. And this uncluttering offers mind space so that we can get real with ourselves.

Rather than pushing parts of us away, we are instead creating an environment that allows us to simply loosen our grip. We don’t have to fix anything. All we’re doing is bringing tender, nonjudgmental attention to our thoughts and feelings and making room for whatever is living there. Journaling allows for this. So instead of trying to let things go, I invite the concept of– let things be.

“Journal writing gives us insights into who we are, who we were, and who we can become.” 

— Sandra Marinella

Something else is happening when we take pen to paper. Writing stimulates the Reticular Activating System, which filters through the many topics that your brain processes and determines which points to bring to the forefront. There is a connection between our hands, our arms, our eyes, our brains, and our emotions. We are all integrated beings. At times, it doesn’t feel like it, but all this is happening within one body. Journaling brings all those parts of us together to impact our emotional well-being and mental health.

Baikie, K., & Wilhelm, K. (2005). Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 11(5), 338-346. doi:10.1192/apt.11.5.338

7 Steps to Managing Stress with Personal Power

Article contributed by Amy Sargent.

When is the last time you had to face something tough which caused stress? Last year — last month — yesterday — today?

Stress and being human go hand-in-hand, especially these days. And tough times most likely aren’t going away any time soon, so if you’re hoping for a stress-free life, best of luck with that. In an article published by the Medical West Hospital, the author says, “Stress is a normal part of life…and an unavoidable reality of life. But stress isn’t always a bad thing. It’s a natural, physical response that can trigger our fight-or-flight response. Stress can increase our awareness in difficult or dangerous situations, allowing us to act quickly in the moment. Without it, humans wouldn’t have survived this long!” [https://www.medicalwesthospital.org/preventing-stress.php]

The goal isn’t necessarily to get rid of all stress, but to have a toolkit full of resources to tackle it when it does arise. One of the primary tools which helps combat stress is the emotional intelligence competency of personal power.

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”
– Lou Holtz

Personal power is the ability to know you are able to meet life’s challenges with a sense of self-confidence. It’s that “inner knowing” that you have the ability to live the life you choose, even if it means having hard conversations and speaking your truth along the way. It’s an ability to tune into your own emotions and behave in a way that fits within your personal value system — even if it’s unpopular. And — it’s the ability to do all of the above in a way that builds relationships, not tearing them down.

In other words, exercising personal power is not about being confrontational, pushy, or ‘bulldozing’ over others. More often than not, this competency is exhibited in a quiet, sincere manner which others may not even notice at a glance. True personal power does not need an audience, but it receives a following.

Those who struggle with this competency of emotional intelligence lack confidence in their own judgement and shy away from tough conversations. They are avoiders and have difficult speaking their truth if they perceive it will not be well received. They avoid challenges and take the easy route when available. They are not risk-takers and often are unable to set boundaries with others which are appropriate…such as expecting to be treated with respect and being able to communicate that. When they do decide to speak up, their assertiveness can come out as offensive.

But what does personal power have to do with stress management?

First of all, personal power provides you with the confidence and ability to make changes when needed. You do not feel like a victim, but rather, in charge of your choices. If you’re in a stressful situation, your belief in self empowers you to boldly face the issues and make adjustments as needed. For example, you know when to push back hard when someone is trying to compromise your values (something which causes stress) and know when to let go (not sweating the small stuff). You believe your actions have an influence on the outcome and aren’t afraid to step in and deal with the situation.

“Do not wait for the green light. You are the green light.”
― Dr. Jacinta Mpalyenkana, PhD, MBA

Secondly, your personal power gives you the ability to maintain composure when stress arises and choose productive behaviors which diminish negative emotions connected to stress, rather than feed them with nervous tension, anxiety, irritability, etc. You recognize that stress is a part of everyday life and can provide an opportunity to grow, so, you do not fear it. You know how to calm yourself when stress arises and are not afraid to seek support from others when needed.

Finally, personal power enables you to combat stress because you are acutely aware of your needs and know how to respond appropriately. Instead of waiting for circumstances or others to ‘fix’ things for you, you recognize your emotions in the moment and, based upon what you learn from your emotions, choose healthy behaviors which help instead of hurt yourself, others, and the specific situation. You like yourself enough to take care of yourself, including practicing good mental health as well as eating well and exercising, all choices which help with diminishing stress.

Like all competencies of emotional intelligence, personal power can be developed. Here are some ways to rediscover your personal power:

1. Know yourself. What are your top 5 values? List these and journal a bit about why they are important to you. Rank them in order. If you are struggling with identifying your values, ask yourself what is most important to you. Think about things like generosity, or responsibility, or honesty, or ambition.

“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
– William James

2. Identify the things you excel at. Think back on past successes and focus on the strengths you used to get there. Try to remember how you felt when you accomplished this feat and how it affected others. Congratulate yourself for these achievements and remind yourself that you are capable of success.

3. Work on developing an “I can” thought process. That negative voice in your head no longer gets to be voiced or heard. Instead, when it tries to speak, combat it by shaking your head and saying to yourself, No, that’s not true.” Replace it with “I can, I will, I have, I am going to” and say aloud what you plan to do.

“You cannot always control what goes on outside. But you can always control what goes on inside.”
– Wayne Dyer

4. Stop apologizing for your thoughts and beliefs. When you are sharing your values with someone, the conversation should never start with, “I’m sorry, but…”! Learn to state your values, wants, needs, directly and succinctly, without apology. Your thoughts and beliefs reflect who you are. Be proud of that.

5. List out the areas in which you’d like to grow. In which areas of life would you like to make improvements? Take note of why you currently are not confident in these competencies…emphasis on currently. If you have experienced past failures, that’s OK. Everyone does. Forgive yourself and move on. If you’re having trouble noting the source of your struggles, enlisting the help of a close friend, counselor, or coach may provide insights into the things which are presenting themselves as hurdles.

6. Find a mentor. Who do you know who is good at the things you are not? See if you can arrange for a conversation with them and begin to learn from their successes and failures. Find books about people who have achieved successes, or about people whom you admire, and study the behaviors of those who excel.

7. Practice assertiveness in everything you do. Start small, with the ‘easier’ things, such as speaking up when a colleague asks what you want for lunch, or when your significant other asks what you’d like to do after work. Try to avoid saying, “I don’t care”, or, “Whatever everyone else wants”, and speak up for your needs and desires in the little things, often, giving yourself practice in personal power for when bigger issues arise.

As with all new skills, the more you exercise, the stronger you’ll get. If you’ve spent a lifetime of putting yourself down, or not standing up for yourself, know it may take some time to turn the tables and incorporate this competency of emotional intelligence into your everyday choices. Try taking at least one step each day as you move in this new direction, and be sure to accept your mistakes and celebrate your wins along the way. This way, you can be better prepared to handle the stress that lies ahead in 2021.

“When we get comfortable with our own strength, discomfort changes shape. We remember our power.”
― Jen Knox, The Glass City

What’s the difference between being cocky, cowardly, and confident?

“Knowing who you are is confidence. Confidence, not cockiness. Cockiness is knowing who you are and pushing it down everyone’s throat.” — Mila Kunis

Article contributed by Amy Sargent.

Do you know anyone who constantly tells you how great they are? Whether it’s a blatant statement of bragging or a masked self-compliment, it’s easy to recognize those who swagger. They are the ones who like to ‘up’ your story, who always have a better, bigger, or bolder experience than the one you shared.  They often are the loudest one in the room (though not all loud people are cocky–don’t confuse that!), are able to speak over others, and are inclined to tell long, detailed stories, rarely pausing to read the expressions of those around them, assuming everyone is deeply fascinated with their tale. They interrupt. They have this uncanny way of steering every conversation back to them. When you speak, if you get the chance, you wonder if they are hearing anything you say.

There’s something in them, some sort of inner need, that has to let you know that they are smart, successful, and superior. It’s the kind of person we try to avoid at the office, at a party, or when we’re out and about. And though they can appear to be quite confident, I think, deep down, their need to boast comes from a place of inferiority.

“Let another man praise you and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.” — ancient proverb

And then there are those who struggle with having any confidence at all. These people live a cowardly life, tending to avoid confrontations and have difficulty speaking their truth. They sometimes stumble over their words and/or don’t speak loud enough for you to hear clearly. They lack confidence in their own judgment, hesitate to try new things, and avoid challenges like the plague. Because of this lack of trust in self, they question their own abilities and often feel powerless. Those who struggle with personal power tend to have difficulty setting appropriate boundaries and can be “yes” men/women.

Somewhere in between the two extremes lies the emotionally intelligent competency of personal power.

“Confidence, like art, never comes from having all the answers; it comes from being open to all the questions.”  — Marianne Williamson

Personal power, that sense of self-confidence and an inner knowing that you can thrive through life’s challenges, can sometimes be confused with cockiness, but it’s not that at all.

Those who have personal power — who are strong in this understanding of their strengths (and areas of growth) believe they can set the direction of their lives. They are not victims to the winds of change but sense when things need to shift and take action to make that happen. They have a calm inner conviction about who they are and their abilities.  Those rich with this competency tend to know what they want and go after it, and can speak their truth and give voice to their values and convictions. Though they are the ones that make things happen, those with strong personal power don’t always have to do it brashly and loudly. One important aspect is that they can distinguish between the things they can control and the things that are out of their control, and can let go of the latter when needed. They are always learning and never propose to have it all figured out.

Listen for how they define self. You’ll hear them speaking about qualities of the heart, not about what they do. Try asking at your next social gathering, “Tell me about yourself?” and listen for whether or not they tell you what they do or who they are.

Think of those you lead — or those who lead you — your colleagues, your teammates, your manager, the boss, your pastor, your significant other, or someone you just admire. Which of these three C’s does he/she lean toward: cockiness, cowardice, or confidence? Which type of leader would you rather follow? Which would you rather work alongside? I daresay we all are most drawn to those with true confidence.

Even more importantly, can you discern when you are being cocky, cowardly, or confident? It’s an awareness worth developing.

“There is a fine line between confidence and cocky. Confidence can bring you many things, but cockiness can make you lose many things.” — Azgraybebly Josland

Those who take the time to develop this competency of personal power unleash their ability to convey their ideas and solutions in an assured manner which gives others confidence in their ability to solve problems and achieve results. In other words, those that have personal power can lead, and lead well.

Most of us dance between the three, cockiness, cowardice, and confidence, depending on the day, our mood, and our behavioral self-control. In other words, we all have room to grow. Here are nine practical steps to begin moving toward true confidence/personal power:

  • Remember the glory days. Success breeds confidence, so take a moment to remember the things you’ve achieved in life so far. What are your success stories? Where have you excelled?  When did you accomplish a goal you set out to reach and how did you go about accomplishing it?  Remembering past successes — even those you achieved as far back as childhood — can help boost your levels of personal power when you begin to doubt your abilities.
  • It takes a village. Now think about who helped you accomplish those goals? Who believed in you or gave you the inspiration to keep going even when things got rough? Did anyone provide financial means which enabled you to succeed, or come alongside you as a friend or mentor to be there when you needed them? Reminding ourselves that our successes most always are a team effort can help us avoid the full-of-self syndrome. And leaning into friends as you accomplish goals can be a source of encouragement and help ensure success.
  • Identify the voices. I led a women’s group once and we attempted to get to the root of our insecurities. In almost every case, as children, we had been told by someone that we couldn’t — or shouldn’t — and now, as adults, we still believed that lie. Think on the areas where you lack confidence and see if you can remember where you first heard that maybe you were no good at it.  Identify who said it and when…not to hold a grudge but to realize it was just someone’s ill-spoken opinion. Recognizing the source of negative thoughts can help put them in their place as you move toward a more positive outlook.
  • Stop the hurtful self-talk. Even if someone was hurtful with their words,  it’s most likely you who continues the negative self-talk. Notice when you say, “I can’t” or start a sentence with “I’m only…”, diminishing yourself.  Try not to begin with “I’m sorry, but…”.  Learn to state your truth without apologies.  Also listen if you tend to tag “isn’t it?” at the end of a suggestion, or “right?” Those words are a way of seeking approval of others and teaches them to treat us as lacking power.
  • Build some fences. Setting boundaries and learning to say “no” can free us up to accomplish the things that are important to us. Being a yes man/woman actually limits us to doing only what others ask of us vs. moving in the direction that we want. You may need to spend some time reviewing your values and clarifying your goals to begin setting appropriate boundaries.
  • Lay down the remote. Determine which things in your life you have control over, and which areas you don’t. Hint: you can never control others’ thoughts, behaviors, or actions. Trying to control what you can’t will only lead to frustration. What you do have control over are your own thoughts, behaviors, and actions.
  • Dream a little dream. Whenever we create something new, it appears first as a thought. Envision yourself as smart, competent, articulate, poised, admired…and humble.  Use the prompt, “In a perfect world, I would ___” and fill in how it would look if you were teeming with personal power.
  • Shhh. In your next conversation, and those that follow, determine to listen more than you speak. Ask open-ended questions with the goal of learning more about the other person and the whys behind their thoughts and actions. If you tend to tell long-winded tales, shorten your stories and pause often to ask the other person to share as well.
  • Follow the leader. Find those in your life that exhibit true confidence and strive to emulate them. Watch how they interact with others — in meetings and in one-on-one conversations. If possible, ask to meet with them for lunch and learn from them.

As with all change for the positive, it’s easier if you work with a coach to help you stay on track. Consider engaging a social + emotional intelligence coach to walk alongside you. Shifting behaviors, especially habits we’ve been practicing for a long time, can take time and effort, but the benefits of moving away from cockiness and cowardice toward confidence will be rewarding.

“As is our confidence, so is our capacity.” — William Hazlitt

 

 

Personal Power

Article submitted by guest author Laura A. Belsten, Ph.D.

Personal Power. What is it? Do you have it? How do you know? Test yourself with this quick quiz. For each question, give yourself a score from 1 to 10 points, with 1 being “I never feel this way” and 10 being “I feel this way all the time.”

  1. I am fully aware of my professional strengths and weaknesses.
  2. I am in full control of my life.
  3. I know what I want and go after it.
  4. I understand and respect myself.
  5. I can make things happen.
  6. I have the ability to get what I want.
  7. I am decisive; I can make decisions despite uncertainties and ambiguity.
  8. I feel completely comfortable voicing views that are unpopular.
  9. I go out on a limb for what is right, even if it means jeopardizing my car
  10. I’m living my life exactly as I want.

Total your responses, and see where you come out in the categories below:

High personal power (91-100): You are among the elite who have a strong sense of your own worth and capability. You live life with an “inner knowing,” a calm conviction about who you are and your ability to get the things you want and need in your life.

Moderately high (81-90): You have a greater sense of personal power than most people. Moderate (71-80): You are doing well in some areas, but may need to work on a few others.

Look back at your lower scores. Is there a theme? Can you resolve to work on this?

Moderately low (61-70): You are exercising personal power on a more limited basis, and probably need to look at specific actions you can take to boost your scores.

Low personal power (60 and below): Don’t despair! This score simply explains why life seems overwhelming and difficult at times. As you work to increase your personal power, you will experience dramatic results in how you view, respond to and address life’s challenges.

People with a highly-developed sense of personal power believe they can set the direction of their lives. They define themselves from the “inside out” (I am capable, I am creative, I speak up and do the right thing) rather than from the “outside in” (I’m a corporate executive, I’m an attorney).

The opposite of personal power is helplessness or hopelessness, crippling self-doubt, and a lack of conviction to tackle life’s tough challenges.

Personal power is a critical emotional intelligence competency that reveals itself in strong  personal presentation, in the ability to confidently take on new challenges, and quickly master  new jobs or skills. People with high personal power are catalysts, movers, and initiators who don’t hesitate to take on controversial issues and stand up for what they believe despite opposition and disagreement. Quite simply, personal power is the degree to which you believe you can meet life’s challenges and live the life you choose.

Do you have a strong sense of personal power?

A jump-start to personal power

Article contributed by Amy Sargent

Personal power is a competency of emotional intelligence, and for some, can be a difficult one to embrace, especially if you’ve had a history of not speaking up.  But it’s never too late to stand up for our values, no matter how inexperienced we are at it.

I sheepishly admit I have never hooked up the cables to jump start a car battery. Whenever mine has died, someone else has done it for me. But there was a young college-aged girl standing by her old, beat up Chrysler at the rest area this morning looking worried so I offered to help.

As we lifted the hood to look for her battery, which surprisingly was not in plain sight, a skinny, greasy-haired man came over and laughed, making a snide comment about girls trying to do things they can’t. I noticed he hooked the first clip to the wrong car…if it matters… I thought it did. I questioned it and he retorted , “You really think you know more than me?” I hushed not because I felt dumb but because I really didn’t want to touch any of the car parts and was glad he was getting his already-dirty fingernails dirtier. But then he looked me up and down and said, “By the looks of you you’ve probably never used a tool in your life.” I bit my tongue, not really seeing how any tools would be involved in this, but when he next made a rude comment about my dress, my pre-coffee-slept-5-hours-in-the-car brain took the wheel and I said, “You’re being rude and derogatory, and you need to stop”. His eyes flashed and he said, “Fine, good luck jumping it yourself”, threw the cables on the ground, and stomped off.

I apologized to the girl for chasing off our only help but said being spoken to that way is not cool. She nodded and said he was making her feel uncomfortable. So we googled the make of her car since she didn’t have a manual and together found the elusive battery ports, hooked it up (switching around the cable he’d put on), and following the online directions, had her car running again in a few minutes. We high fived and I smiled and jokingly said, “We’re rock stars!,” and she agreed.

One small step for man, one giant leap for womankind.

Then we each got in our cars, bonded by our shared success, with a new notch of confidence under our underused tool belts, and headed down the freeway in opposite directions, two solo female travelers making our way home.

Does your personal power need a jolt?

Article contributed by Amy Sargent

I had three people this week ask me to do something that I did not want to do.

A nice person would say yes, right?

But I am a nice person.  And I said no.

It’s not that I couldn’t do it – I could have changed around my schedule, cancelled a few appointments, overscheduled, and put myself into a situation of stress. Saying yes to them would have meant me saying no to things I already had set up and was looking forward to working on. It wasn’t that I couldn’t – I just didn’t want to.

In my people pleasing days, I would have said yes, even if it created a burden on me and others. Like many of us, I was taught to accommodate others first at a young age and was told I should always put the feelings of others before mine. As objectionable as it sounds, I actually attended a college where if a guy asked me on a date, I was expected to accept, whether or not I wanted to go out with him.  Serving others was of highest priority.

The thing is, helping others is a good thing. Having an attitude of service toward others is a competency of emotional intelligence. But so is the competency of personal power.  And there are times that we need to stand up for who we are, for what we believe, for what we want – and that’s OK.

“Saying ‘yes’ to one thing means saying ‘no’ to another.”  — Sean Covey

Does the thought of putting yourself first make you cringe?

Personal power is a sense of self-confidence with an inner knowing that you can live the life you choose. It’s the confidence that you can meet life’s challenges and navigate difficult circumstances, having those tough conversations when needed, and speak your truth.  It’s not about being rude – or hurtful – or careless of others’ feelings. It’s the ability to do all the above in a quiet, sincere, assertive and appropriate manner.

People who have a strong sense of personal power have a calm inner conviction about who they are. They are not afraid to go after the things they want in life. They are able to tell the difference between the things they have control over and the things they do not. They know they can determine the direction their life will take and make efforts to head that way.  They define themselves as capable and can give their convictions a strong voice.

“Remember, NO ONE has the right to control your emotions, thoughts, and actions, unless you let them.”  — Kevin J. Donaldson

For some of you, you’re nodding, recognizing these traits in yourself.  If that’s the case, kudos to you.  Those around you are most likely blessed by your confident leadership and sense of self. It’s a delight to be around someone who believes in themselves and can portray that with a calm, kind spirit. We’re not talking being bossy or demanding, which often indicate someone who is trying too hard to show others they have control.  Someone with personal power doesn’t need to be the center of attention or try to control everything (or everyone!) around them.  They are solid with who they are and how they fit into the world.

But for some, exhibiting personal power can be a struggle. These folks tend to avoid confrontations even if it would lead toward resolution of a problem that’s slowing them down. They have difficulty speaking their mind, for fear of overstepping bounds or being judged, and lack confidence in their own judgement. They avoid challenges, give in easily, question their abilities, and don’t set clear boundaries. They can be labeled as a pushover or a doormat. Often, though they say yes to something, they want to say no, and end up resenting the situation or the people involved. They tend to need approval from others and fear rejection or disapproval if they say no. Is this you?

“It’s better to say no now than be resentful later.” – Chantalle Blikman

If your personal power needs a little jolt — good news!  As with all competencies of emotional intelligence, we’re talking about behavior, and behavior can be changed.  Here are some energizing tips to try if you struggle with personal power:

  • Make a list of your accomplishments. Try to recapture how you felt when you reached your goals.
  • Take note of the things you excel in, whether it be a simple task or a specialized skill set.
  • Listen to see if you put yourself down and take notice in which circumstances you tend to do that.  Next time those situations crop up, make an effort to avoid self-deprecation. If you can’t say something nice about yourself, don’t say anything at all!
  • Examine your boundaries with others. Do you let people take advantage of you?  Do they walk all over you?  This is not about their poor behavior so much that it is about you allowing them to.
  • Let your no mean no and your yes mean yes. If you do not want to do something, practice saying, “No thank you”, “I ‘m not available”, or “No, I don’t want to.”  And you don’t need to make up an excuse as to why!
  • Did you mess up on something that is gnawing at your confidence? Congratulations, you’re human!  Admit your faults then let your failures go, learn from them, and move on.
  • If you don’t know something – no need to feel shame — own it and learn to say, “I don’t know…but I’ll find out.”  If it’s something you’re not comfortable with not knowing – get out there and research the answers.
  • Can’t control a situation? Hooray! You won’t believe how wonderful it is to let go of things (and people) you can’t control. Try it, you’ll like it.
  • Journal about your best self. Dream a little dream and write down how you’d envision yourself as if you were living out that dream.
  • Learn to speak loudly and clearly so others can understand you on the first try. The simple task of having to repeat yourself too many times can tug at your confidence.
  • Consider reading a book or taking a course on assertiveness.
  • Team up with a social + emotional intelligence coach to help you make shifts toward increased personal power.

Sometimes it’s helpful to take a step back and look at yourself in third person. It is hard to see a friend not stand up for themselves and allow themselves to be walked all over. Think of yourself as a friend and treat yourself with dignity, respect, and honor as you learn to stand tall and live out your life as you desire. It’s OK to put yourself first sometimes, especially when not doing so threatens your confidence, health, and mental well-being. Practice saying no when appropriate and release the guilt that can accompany not always putting others’ needs first.

We need people who will stand up for what they believe in, speak up for themselves, and act in a courageous way according to their values. It means living in integrity and is vital to strong leadership — and this world needs good leadership! Exercising personal power gives others something to follow. Always giving in to others, especially when it’s in conflict with your values will not benefit anyone. If you’re not used to standing up for yourself, this will be difficult – I get it – a lifetime of patterns can be hard to break.  But behavior can be changed. Isn’t it high time to learn to embrace and use your personal power?

“You have a lot more power than you are giving yourself credit for.  Please embrace it.”  — Queen Tourmaline

The Leap

leap

Article contributed by Amy Sargent

Do you have dreams that are not being realized? And in the day-to-day grind you just can’t see how to make them happen? It’s the story of my life. As a result of my wanderings around the great state of Colorado this summer, I realized that the guilty culprit of dream-stealing is that discouraging and negative acquaintance of ours named Fear. Why we ever decided to make friends with him in the first place I’ll never know! He has an annoying way of stopping by unannounced and knocking on our door until we relent and let him in, usually in the dark and restless hours of the night, when we are wrestling with discouragement and worry. And then he has the gall to stick around like an unwanted house guest until we’re exasperated and completely spent! I know in my life the presence of fear is the very thing that keeps me from exploring new opportunities that are the stepping stones to making my dreams unfold. Fear paralyzes us to the point that not only do we forget our dreams but can’t remember why we even dreamed them, and a life that seems mundane, routine, and purposeless stealthily assumes their place.

Fear can be so crippling that in order to tackle it, drastic measures are needed. Fearing the unknown becomes such a way of life for some of us that the thought of taking any sort of risk or changing up the routine is terrifying, despite realizing we have landed in a life that is so very far from our hearts. Taking a leap of faith, which is a form of exercising our personal power, when an opportunity presents itself becomes the only option to get unstuck and move forward.

I go cliff jumping for this very reason. If you’ve ever tried it, you understand how terrifying it can be.  Just getting to the launch pad is treacherous.  Usually the way up is a narrow, steep footpath with loose rocks, sharp drop-offs, and absolutely no room for error.  As if that doesn’t get your heart racing, there’s often no way down except to jump.  As you carefully peer over the edge to once again assure yourself there are no rocks below (though you already swam around down there a couple hundred of times to make sure), despite seeing those who go before you successfully accomplish the feat, your fears grab your innards like a pair of strong, sinewy vice grips that squeeze so tightly you feel your timid heart may burst with the overload of adrenaline.  Everything in your reasonable, sound mind tells you that there is no earthly reason it would be a good idea to fling yourself off into the oblivion.  But with heart pounding and breath coming in shallow gasps, you leap, a scream escaping your chest that doesn’t quite sound human. At the splash you plunge deep into the cool, cold waters with an instant exuberant affirmation that makes you wonder why you ever hesitated in the first place. It’s a physical way to push back physical fears that so translate over into fears of the heart. The exhilaration of mustering up the bravery to leap, despite sane reasoning, then plummeting downward, barefoot, into the refreshing blue waters below, reminds me that I can do anything if I am bold enough to try.

What cliff is looming ahead for you, that thing you are afraid of that’s holding you back? Or what cliff have you recently leapt from that has moved you one step closer to your dreams? One lie that fear whispers in our ear is that we are alone in our struggles, and alone in our successes.  This misconception can lead to isolation, loneliness, and a false sense of self — three masks that do a good job of clouding our vision and make us feel like we are pursuing our dreams with blinders on. Keep sharing your stories, because it is these tales of love, and hurt, and accomplishment, and setbacks, that could be the very thing someone needs to read today to help them make the leap.

Tackling fear with personal power

karaokeArticle contributed by Amy Sargent

I have this terrific fear of karaoke.

It is unfounded, ungrounded, and unreasonable. “No one cares what you sound like”, they tell me. “Have a few drinks and you’ll be fine”, they reason. “No one is listening anyway”, they say in a most convincing tone.  I get it and I hear it and I agree with it – but I’m still scared, to the point of getting sick to my stomach and weak in the knees when I see the red neon “Karaoke” sign on the side of a building my friends are leading me toward.

It’s one thing if I got up on stage, belted out a few notes, and it went really poorly. Picking a song I thought I knew (but didn’t), the entire audience pointing at me and laughing because I looked funny, or choking on the remnants of the hot sauce from that last bite of wings…these would be solid grounds for fear. But I’ve never gotten up there and tried it–in fact, I usually flee the scene before the strains of the first tune begin. My fear is completely and wholeheartedly a fear of the great unknown.

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my.

Karaoke is a silly topic, I know. But I’m finding that fears in one area of life are all too quick to spill over into other areas of life, more important ones like work and personal relationships. Fear is a shape shifter. It can take on many forms which can deceive us into not recognizing it for what it is. And because it doesn’t always show itself blatantly in the telltale sweaty palms and a rapid heartbeat, it can lurk unknowingly in the shadows, causing us to behave in ways we don’t exactly want to.  Procrastination, worry, nagging, complaining, arrogance, using humor at the wrong time, poor treatment of coworkers and/or employees — all can be the damaging results of unchecked fear.

Fear has a direct impact on our personal power, that inner knowing that we can meet life’s challenges head-on, and a vital component of emotional intelligence. And who doesn’t have a few challenges that they could use a little personal power toward these days?!  I can’t name one friend or colleague who isn’t battling something rather difficult at the moment. You? Personal power is so vital because without it, we begin to think that we have no control over our situation. When it’s not present, we lose confidence in our own judgment begin to avoid change, allowing ourselves to feel powerless. We become risk-adverse and do what we can to stay safe instead of stretching into what could be new, positive opportunities.

Part of tackling a fear of the unknown is learning to be present in the moment, which is what’s referred to as mindfulness. Human nature in and of itself has a tendency to either ruminate on the past or worry about the future, but the ability to be in the moment can be arduous. Our fears often revolve around things that could happen, not what actually is happening. I’m afraid I’ll have an all-out coughing fit when I get up to sing in front of everyone. Sure, that could happen, but what are the chances? Think about the times when you had a solid career but worried about getting fired…when you were in a relationship but worried about them leaving…when you had financial security yet worried about losing it. Instead of relishing the present, we tend to fear what is not known.

If you’re one of those people who is unabashedly brave, going boldly where no man has gone before, kudos to you. I admire you. And I ask that you use your gift, not only to promote your own successes, but to reach out to someone beside you who could use a hand. And if you lean more toward being a scaredy-cat, regularly giving your fears permission to dictate your day-to-day affairs…how’s that working for you? Are you ready to make a shift?

Here are some ways you can begin to develop your personal power and push past the fears that may be holding you down:

  • Let the past be past. So you’ve failed at a few things. Sure, the thought of failing again can be terrifying. But you’ve got to let them go and move on. I love the words of Thomas Edison when he said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
  • Stop being the controller. There are some situations that you cannot fix, and worrying about them isn’t helping either. Learn which things you can change (your behavior) and which you cannot (others’ behavior).
  • Learn your enemy. Often our fears arise from a lack of knowledge. Take a class, seek out a mentor, study up on that thing you’re avoiding.
  • Revel in your successes. Jot down a list of accomplishments, the things you’ve done well, and remember how good they felt. Isn’t that feeling worth working toward again?
  • Try it, you’ll like it. Pick one unknown thing you’re intimidated by this week and give it the ole’ college try. Start small – little successes lead to bigger successes. For example, if you dread giving that upcoming presentation to a tough client,  practice first with a group of forgiving friends.

A lack of personal power can be crippling and a huge waste of time. When we succumb to our fears, they devour our confidence, bind our wings and blur our vision. Fear is a powerful, controlling force that imprisons us, keeping us behind the bars of doubt and worry, locking us away from living our lives to our fullest potential.

Maybe it’s time to grab the microphone and start to sing.

“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt

Regaining Your Personal Power By Avoiding The Opinions Of Others

Article contributed by guest author Grant Herbert.

People with a low personal power or self-worth are generally fearful of what they perceive to be attacks on them as individuals. They have experienced and internalised the consequences of failure and rejection and it really scares them. The most unfortunate thing is, in this all to prevalent scenario, they usually have a distorted view of what failure truly is.

This counterfeit appears real when you allow others to set the values and standards from which success or failure and acceptance or rejection are measured. Your goals and dreams may have been battered an bruised, but your ideas of rejection and failure are usually based on what others have said to you. You seem to have relinquished control over your future and are completely at the mercy of the forces around you.

People who exhibit a low self-worth think that because they have failed in one part of their life’s journey, they have also failed at being a good person. They can not separate their act of failure from the destruction of their identity, so they equate their perceived failure to meet other people’s standards with low self-worth. Self-destruction is as painful as the rejection, so they will eventually end up fearing not only failure but their own self-abasement as well. The American author and advertising executive, Bruce Barton, summed it up in this brief but powerful verse. “How curious it is that men who will die for the liberty of the world will not make the little sacrifice needed to free themselves from their own bondage”.

During certain stages of my own journey toward a healthy level of Personal Power, I have reflected the above definitions perfectly. Building an identity, based on my ability to gain acceptance, drove me deeper into the bondage of the performance trap. If only I can do more it will make up for my failure to be a good husband and father which led to being rejected, judged and labeled. Then one day someone encouraged me, and I cannot for the life of me remember who, to use the self-affirmation “What other people think of me is none of my business”. I was looking for unconditional acceptance from people who were not wired up to give it to me. Their own journey had conditioned them to see things the way they wanted to see them and therefore their view of me was based on my actions going through their unique filtering system. It wasn’t until I learned that true unconditional acceptance could only be gained from within, that I could overcome the fear of what other people thought of me and move forward into my full potential.

Fear of others opinions can be overcome by not relinquishing to them your Personal Power. Positive self-talk, practiced every day, can negate the negative words of others. Remember, you are more qualified than anyone to have an opinion about yourself.

Have the best week possible, you deserve it!

Where Do Your Emotions REALLY Come From?

atpicArticle contributed by guest author Aimee Teesdale

Here’s a quick question for you: have a look and see how you’re feeling this very moment and ask yourself, why do you feel that way? Seriously, take the time to figure out what exactly is the cause of whatever emotion you’re experiencing right this very instant.

Relationship counselors, life coaches, Catholic priests in the confession booth and even lawyers have all heard people explaining why they think their lives are simply not the way they want them to be. And usually, the reason goes a little something like this:

“My university course is making me stressed…”

“My wife’s colleague is making me jealous…”

“My horrible job is making me angry…”

“This weather is making me depressed…”

When I asked you above to find the cause for your own current emotional state, did you say something a little similar? Maybe you were “grumpy because the people next door are making noise” or, “bored because there’s nothing good on the telly.” But as innocent as these explanations are, the trouble is they’re not really true.

Let me explain. As a life coach, I’m all about the awesomeness of self-awareness and learning how to take charge of your thoughts, your feelings and hopefully, the dreams you have for your life.

When you frame your emotions as something that other people make you feel, though, you’re quietly giving away all that power. You’re handing over your own agency and control to external forces.

If a 300-pound gorilla walked into the room now, physically picked you up and threw you out the window, then I guess you could technically say the gorilla made you break your leg on the way down. But the stone cold truth is that for the most part, nobody makes you feel anything. Nobody holds a gun to your head and forces you to feel any emotion. And even if someone did have a gun to your head, whether you felt angry or calm or afraid would still be completely up to you.

 

What I’m saying is that the way we respond to events in the world is entirely under our control.

 

When you say that someone or something else “makes me feel…” you’re actually subtly disempowering yourself. Things in the world happen, of course, but your emotions about them are all your own.

I hear you asking, so what?

Well, if you truly believe that the source of your negative emotions is outside of you, then you have immediately convinced yourself that fixing things is someone else’s problem. And you can’t do anything about the choices someone else makes. So you rob yourself of the opportunity to gain emotional mastery.

If your wife was flirting with a colleague, for example, forcing her to change jobs doesn’t solve the problem, since your jealousy didn’t actually come from the colleague …it came from inside you. Saying that the weather is to blame for your bad mood immediately makes you powerless – what on earth can you do about the weather, right?

Because the source of the depression is not the weather, it’s you. And seeing things this way allows you to start thinking of solutions, and start seeing the deeper cause of things.

So the million dollar question is – what IS the deeper cause of things anyway?

Well, that’s simple. Thoughts.

Your university course isn’t making you stressed – a course is just a neutral thing that has completely different effects on different students. No, it’s your thoughts about your course that are stressing you. Your job isn’t making you angry. Unless you have a very strange job, there are no 300-pound gorillas or guns involved. It’s only your thoughts about your job that are stressing you.

The great thing about reframing situations this way is that you instantly get your power back. Why? Because thoughts can be changed! Thoughts are 100%, absolutely, completely and utterly under your control.

I’m not naïve of course, and it may actually be true that you have a cheating wife and an awful job. But it’s only once you start looking at what is and isn’t under your control that you can really do anything about it anyway.

If you answered my initial question with a form of “X is making me feel Y”, then try to rework that right now. Instead of saying, “I’m jealous because of what’s-his-face who always flirts with my wife”, say, “I’m jealous because of my thoughts. My last wife cheated and lied to me, and I haven’t learnt to trust again, and that’s making me feel jealous”

The first explanation gets you nowhere and means that how bad you feel is simply up to whatever what’s-his-face does. The second – well, that’s where things start to get interesting! If you follow the second explanation, you immediately see what a possible solution could be.

Can you think of other ways to reframe the source of your emotions so that you are in control?

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