The other day I was listening to Joel Osteen and he was talking about not giving up your power. It reminded me of a group lesson I used to teach my high school students a couple of years ago about not giving their power away. In this sense, many of the high school kids I was working with were labeled “troubled kids”, and while many of them had various problems, one main issue they had was allowing other people to push their buttons, causing them to react and get into trouble over and over again. They were allowing other students in essence to control them.
What exactly does it mean to not give your power away?
It means to not allow other people or even events that happen throughout the day, to steal your joy, your positivity, your happiness. It also means to not allow other people to control your emotions or cause you to act out.
It’s really easy in life to be reactive. We could be having a good day and all it takes is for someone to make a rude remark or throw some other negative event into our day and then we are no longer having a good day. We are no longer happy and smiling, but instead we are fixated on that one negative event. We have let someone or something take our power away. Our power to be happy, our power to be the master of our emotions, actions and therefore consequences.
Many of us give our power away all the time without even realizing it. We think something or someone else made us mad, sad or ruined our day without realizing that we gave them the power to do so. Our emotions can be so overpowering that we don’t realize the thoughts that actually caused us to have those negative feelings and it’s those thoughts that we have power over if not anything else.
Our thoughts are one of the first places most of us give our power away.
We have negative self-talk that many of us just except as being true when in reality, it’s often just garbage. We tell ourselves we’re not good enough, we’re too ugly, too fat, weren’t born with the right genes, we’ll never be happy… the list can go on and on. First of all, if you believe all the negative self-talk, they tend to come true and become self-fulfilling prophecies. Second, they make us feel like crap and rob us of our natural power to feel good and be awesome people. Third and perhaps most importantly, they usually aren’t true. We have to challenge those negative thoughts instead of just accepting them. When you catch yourself having negative self-talk, ask yourself is it true? How do I know it is true? Negative thoughts and negative self-talk will do nothing but rob you of your power to control your life and have the life you want and deserve.
Another way we give away our power is through our actions or lack of actions.
Sometimes we are too afraid of making a decision, too afraid of change. We don’t set goals. We sabotage ourselves. Sometimes we are waiting for something or someone instead of going out and doing it ourselves. I used to have a friend who was very educated, but he had trouble finding a job because he was always waiting for someone (usually family and friends) to find a job for him. He wanted them to find a place that was hiring, find out about the job, sometimes even get him the application. Needless to say he was unemployed for a very long time because he was waiting on someone else to do the things he could do for himself. He was giving away his power to be employed.
Lastly, perception is a major way many of us give away our power.
We give away our power by the way we look at things and perceive the world. Many people see themselves as victims and that things are always done to them, that other people are in control of their lives, holding them back, causing their problems. If you perceive the world in this way then you are giving away your power and not taking personal responsibility for your life. Many people don’t understand that we choose how we perceive the world and we can look at it from different angles and viewpoints. Many of us have a default way that we perceive the world, but if that default way is holding us back and robbing us of our personal power, then we need to try a different perspective.
Take for example, if I go for a job interview and I don’t get the job, my default perspective might be “The guy interviewing me just didn’t like me. If I were a woman he would have probably hired me.” That’s giving away my power and making me feel like crap. I can change that perspective to something good and say, “I didn’t get the job, but at least I got an interview and I did my best, next time I’m sure I’ll get the job.” Or it could be a little more indifferent such as, “I didn’t get the job, guess it wasn’t meant for me. I’ll keep applying for other positions.”
The outcome doesn’t change. I didn’t get the job. However, my perspective changed and therefore how I felt about it changed from crappy, to positive, to indifferent. When I gave away my power with a negative perspective I felt worst then when I kept my power with good or indifferent perspectives.
There’s a saying that says, if you can’t change something then change the way you think about it. I have subscribed to that philosophy for a long time and trust me when I say it’s helped me stay positive and stay in control of my thoughts, feelings and actions.
When we give our power away we are allowing other people, events, circumstances, etc. to control how we feel and react. We are the captain of our ships and therefore are more control of our lives than we sometimes realize. When we take our personal power back we get out of the passenger seat and back in the drivers seat of our lives.