One of the most common things keeping us from going after the things that we want in life is the feeling that we don’t have the power to get there.
What creates that feeling of disempowerment? Sometimes, it’s the toxic people in our lives that are keeping us down. Other times, it’s a stressful work environment that makes us feel trapped in a pattern we can’t break free from. And yes, sometimes we’re even our own worst enemy. Our minds create stories that convince us we’re not good enough to get where we want to be, and it pulls us away from our goals and desires. These thoughts are distracting, self-sabotaging, and interfere with our mental head space.
It’s not always easy to recognize the things that are disempowering us. And even when we do, letting go of the habits that are keeping us there can be challenging, stressful and taxing. Not to mention, the process can surface a lot of hidden emotions that have been suppressed for years.
But it’s harder to live in the chokehold of disempowerment. And although it may seem scary, introducing new situations, events and even people into your everyday life will help build you back up, creating a positive snowball effect. Before you know it, your career, business, relationships and even your mental health and well-being will see the benefits.
Here are five steps to take that’ll make you feel more empowered, in control and supported in your day-to-day life.
1. Determine what’s keeping you down
As with anything, the first step to figuring out how to make a shift from one spectrum to another is to determine what’s keeping you from getting there. When it comes to empowerment, this means looking at your day-to-day on a micro level. You need to discover what it is that’s slowing you down and preventing you from feeling centered. Staying in a cycle of engaging in relationships, work, and lifestyle activities that aren’t building or empowering you can leave you feeling unhappy, unmotivated, and uninspired.
One way you can determine what’s disempowering you is to identify the instances where you say “yes” to something that doesn’t add value to your life. Saying “yes” in these circumstances steers you away from your center, because you’re neglecting what you need in that moment. Once you’ve figured out which cases these are, start saying no to the things, events, and people that don’t add value to your life.
2. Identify the small things that make you feel empowered
Take the time to pinpoint the situations where you feel centered and in control. Identify what feels most natural, peaceful, uplifting and authentic to you. I like using the expression, “a coming home to yourself.” Maybe it’s the morning run you used to take, that left you feeling accomplished and completed, and ready to take on the day. Or perhaps it’s the energizing feeling you feel after a yoga or dance class. Or it could be when you spend time with a certain group of friends who always leave you feeling uplifted and inspired. Figuring out what it is that makes you feel like your best, most fulfilled self will be your best resource when it comes to feeling empowered in your day-to-day.
3. Make more time for the things that empower you
When we partake in the activities that empower us, there’s a clear psychological realization and shift in our emotions. It feels good. We enjoy it. And we want more of it.
However, we let time slip, work takes over and our busy lives run us into the ground. Now that you know what activities make you feel centered and light you up, take a hard look at your schedule, and figure out how to factor them into your calendar — even if it means getting up an hour earlier to squeeze it all in. Feeling empowered in small ways will open up the possibility to feel that same way in bigger areas of your life, like at work or in your relationships.
4. Stop listening to your ego
According to author Gary van Warmerdam, the ego is “an identity of our own construction, an identity which is false. If we take all the beliefs of what we are – beliefs about our personality, talents, and abilities – we have the structure of our ego. These talents, abilities and aspects of our personality will be attributes of our skills, but the mental construct of our ‘self’ is artificial. And while this description might make the ego seem like a static thing, it is not. Rather, it is an active and dynamic part of our personalities, playing an immense role in creating emotional drama in our lives.”
Therefore, the ego thinks it knows what’s best, but that’s not always the case. The ego is stubborn, builds walls, rationalizes, justifies, creates excuses, and puts things off that have a deeper value.
The ego is run by the “busy-ness” and “doing-ness” of the brain. It creates an uninspiring checklist, saying that we need to and should be doing x, y, and z to feel productive, successful, or loved. But really, that’s just the ego wanting to take control. The ego builds stories of how your last relationship didn’t work and how your future ones won’t. The ego attaches itself to failures time and time again. It attempts to shield and protect, in order to keep you safe and cozy. The ego doesn’t know what’s best when it comes to empowerment because it’s tied to thinking.
Empowerment isn’t a thinking process, it’s a feeling process.
For instance, say you have a boss that gives you free rein on an upcoming project. Of course, like any other job, there are deadlines to hit and expectations to fulfill. However, this particular boss makes you feel valued, appreciated and a part of the team. On the flip side, how differently would you feel if that project deadline was delegated by a boss that barked orders at you and talked at you rather than with you? You’re likely to feel disempowered, undervalued and underappreciated.
Being empowered is a subjective experience and is unique to you. It’s what energizes, motivates and uplifts you.
One tip for breaking free of the ego is to practice mindfulness; the process of breaking free from over identifying with your thoughts and feelings. As mentioned earlier, the ego loves to identify itself with you. It’s constantly centered around your needs, wants and desires. Practicing mindfulness not only shines a light on your negative patterns, but brings awareness to what may be the cause of your suffering in each situation. This is true for the work example above, in which case, your best course of action is to analyze your thoughts, and figure out why this situation is stressful and unpleasant. One way to keep your boss from keeping you down is to sit in a quiet room, close your eyes, take some deep breaths and ask yourself, “Why am I really irritated, annoyed, angry, upset, sad…etc. right now?”
Keep on asking “why.” Eventually, you’ll get down to the bottom layer of why it’s bothering you, which will offer a deeper understanding of yourself.
5. Create a positive and healthy support system
When it comes to empowering yourself, it’s crucial to have a healthy and positive support system that will sustain and support you during both stable and challenging times. Often times, when life feels good, we tend to stop doing and being around others that empower us.
Why does this happen? Because what comes up must come down, right? Gay Hendricks, author of The Big Leap, refers to this as “upper limit syndrome.”
Say that everything is going well for you: You have an amazing connection with the people around you, and a job you’re passionate about. That’s when the “upper limit” feeling kicks in, because you don’t know how to sustain the positive energy. You start questioning your own happiness and worrying about things. Then, you start tapping into your conditioned belief system of “I’m not good enough,” and asking questions like “Does my partner really love me?” And because you’re questioning your self worth, you no longer feel worthy of spending time with the people who love and support you.
The same is true for when we’re going through a hard time. We have a very deeply embedded cultural belief that we should just “suck it up” and not ask for help. That it looks weak and shameful if we don’t “power through” our tough experiences without any support. But we’re not robots. We need to connect face to face and heart to heart with those that value, love and support us. In the tech-centric era we’re living in today, this is more critical than ever.
Take a look at the relationships you have in place and ask yourself: Does this person support who I am? Do they support my dreams? When I talk about my most intimate parts of my mind, do I feel judged? Do they make me feel small? Do they belittle how I feel?
And if you don’t have those support systems in place just yet, I’m excited for you because it’s a great opportunity to begin cultivating the relationships you really want! Find those that support you because those are the people that love you for you and believe in you.
One way you can go about forming these empowering relationships is to engage with people that share similar interests. For instance, if you love going to museums, strike up a conversation with someone looking at the same piece of art. Or, if you love reading, start a book club, or join a group for book lovers on Meetup.com. If you love going to workshops or seminars, you’ll likely find someone that can engage in meaningful conversation about what was insightful about said seminar. Start engaging in things you love. You’ll be sure to find some amazing connections out there.
Post written by Sarah Vasquez
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