Have you ever experienced a time in your life when you felt powerless?
You may have felt like you had no control over your situation, like you were a victim to whatever happened to you. Maybe you felt like everything was going wrong and you just couldn’t stop it.
We all have experienced times when we feel at the whim of what happens to us. But just because you feel powerless doesn’t mean you are.
Most of the time when you feel powerless, it’s because you have chosen (whether consciously or not) to give away your power to others.
Recognizing your power and the power of choice
The truth is, you can’t control the world around you. You have as much control over others as you do over the weather, natural disasters, or the past. It’s a waste of energy to focus your efforts on controlling external forces.
But while you can’t control what happens to you, you can always choose how you respond.
This doesn’t mean you are a victim to what happens to you. On the contrary, it means that you are in control of your experiences because you are in control of your thoughts, words, and actions.
In any situation, you always have the power and ability to choose what you will do, as long as you recognize it.
9 ways you give away your power — and how to reclaim it
If you want to feel more empowered in your life, you must first become aware of the situations in which you are giving away your power. Do any of these situations sound familiar? If so, you have the power to change them.
1. You don’t speak up when something is wrong. Whether the “something” is wrong with you, your relationships, or the world at large, you always have the power to speak up. When you choose to stay silent, you become complicit with what’s happening around you. What to do instead: Practice voicing your opinion on things that matter to you, even if they feel small or trivial. You’ll start exercising your power of speaking up, and eventually it will become easier and more natural.
2. You’re waiting for someone to give you permission. Do you want someone to tell you that you’re ready for the next step? Are you waiting for permission to do that thing you really want to do? When you wait for permission, you outsource your power. What to do instead: Realize where in your life you are waiting on someone else to give you the green light, and instead give it to yourself. When you give yourself permission to do what you really want, you exercise your power to create your life.
3. You procrastinate or choose not to make a choice. When you wait on making a choice, you end up not making a choice at all. You then become victim to whatever unfolds for you, whether it’s what you wanted or not. This can lead to anger, resentment and blame toward others — all because you didn’t exercise your right of choice. What to do instead: Commit to making choices that best support yourself. Advocate for your best interests, and don’t procrastinate on key decisions.
4. You let someone else call the shots in your life. Who’s really in charge of your life? If that answer is anyone other than you, you are giving away your power. You are ultimately responsible for your circumstances, not anyone else. What to do instead: If you’re not in the job, relationship, or health condition you want to be, decide what you will do about it. Share your goals with others in your life. Let those closest to you know your priorities and what you will be doing to make change happen.
5. You choose against your own intuition. Have you ever had the gut feeling that something just isn’t right? But then you ignore that feeling and forge ahead anyway? Our intuition is the most powerful barometer of what is right and wrong for us at any given time. When we don’t heed this innate force, we choose against ourselves. What to do instead: Trust that your intuition is leading you to a higher good. Practice tuning into your intuition on a regular basis by checking in with yourself. Pay attention to the signs your body gives you and let that be a guiding factor.
6. You play victim to your own story. When you find yourself saying that everything is happening TO you, this is a sign that you are playing victim to your own story. Sure, a lot of shit happens in our lives that we have no control over. But if you’re constantly saying “poor me,” it’s time to reclaim your power. What to do instead: Engaging in victim thoughts results in inaction and depression. Start to replace these thoughts with more supportive and empowering thoughts. Start with, “I support myself by…” or “I choose to…” and insert an action you will take to change your situation.
7. You wait until conditions are “perfect.” If you are waiting until the time is right, or until the stars are aligned, or until [insert perfect circumstance here] you will be waiting forever. Perfection is a myth. By waiting for perfection, you are giving yourself an excuse NOT to do something — ever. Big accomplishments are built over time through a process of failing and succeeding, not in one perfect instant. What to do instead: The key to exercising your power is to simply start, and adjust along the way. Embrace the idea that failure is part of the learning process, and move forward in spite of it. Take one, first, imperfect step.
8. You constantly put the needs of others ahead of your own. Being a considerate and caring person is one thing, but if you find yourself constantly prioritizing the needs of others above your own, you are actually neglecting yourself. You must take care of yourself before you take care of others. What to do instead: Start prioritizing your self-care. What do you need to do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis in order to feel taken care of? This is not being selfish, it is honoring our needs first so we can be of service to others.
9. You play small. When you know intrinsically that you have the power to do more, be more, and live up to a higher potential, but you consistently choose to color “in the lines” because you feel safe, you are giving up your power. You were born with gifts, strengths, and talents that were meant to be utilized in the world. Why waste them? What to do instead: Tell yourself you will begin to step up to the plate in your (career/relationship/heath), even when it’s scary. This might mean doing something you think you’re not quite ready for. Do it anyway.
Becoming aware of how you give your power away is the first step to reclaiming your it. Realize that, no matter the circumstances, you have the power to choose, to prioritize your best interests, and to ultimately create the life you really want to live.
In what areas of your life are you giving up your power? What will you do going forward to feel more empowered?