Are You “Standing in Your Power”?
If you are “standing in your power” your thoughts, feelings and actions are aligned with your values and are leading you toward your goals and dreams. You feel connected to yourself and your life. You are clear on where you want to go and yourchoices reflect your priorities. Even when life gets hectic you feel you are moving in the right direction.
It is not uncommon to realize that your are not “standing in your power”. This is something you most likely will experience at different times throughout your life. Maybe you followed a path based on what other people wanted or believed was right for you and one day you realized you were living out their dreams for you instead of your own. Possibly you have been giving much of your time and energy to help others or possibly your employer, and one day it became clear that you were helping them live their path in place of moving forward in your own life. Perhaps you started down a particular path and at some point it began to feel less right. You never adjust because you felt guilt and/or feared the unknown. Whatever happened, one day you woke up feeling a little lost and craving to feel more like yourself again.
This is not a lifelong prison sentence… you can figure out how to “step back into your power” again. Being in your power, it is all about proactively making choices based on what we really really want. You may need help seeing how your choices are creating your life, but the choices are always there. Be prepared, and know, that everyone may not be as ecstatic as you are about your choices. Sometime when you make changes, it may change a way of life that someone else is perfectly happy with. Standing up for yourself can feel unnatural and scary at first. It is common to feel guilty or odd about making yourself a priority. This can be a big shift, as you may not be used to putting yourself anywhere but last on your list. Many nurturing people are expected to take on the responsibility of caring for others and are left with no one to take care of them. If you do not start creating the life you desire, who will? If you continue down this path how will you feel about your life in 1 year, 5 years and 10 years?
Possessing the ability to express your needs is critical to “standing in your power”. Being confident in what you want to say will enable you to have productive conversations where you calmly and clearly communicate your thoughts. This will enable others to hear you and to understand your needs. People will often do anything to avoid having “tough” conversations. It may seem easier in the moment not to have them, but avoiding uncomfortable topics leaves people feeling: disconnected, exhausted and/or resentful. On the flip side, figuring out how to have these conversations provides numerous long term benefits. Your sanity as well as your physical and emotional health top the list.
There is no way to change history. Therefore it is helpful, and can be more productive, to focus your energy on how you can move forward into your desired future and spend less time trying to prove points regarding the past. There are three basic steps that will help you have the conversations needed to “stand in your power”. Start by getting really clear about what you want, then work through the emotions that surround what you want to say and be prepared to move forward no matter what response you get.
I suggest you work through these steps not just in your head, but on paper too. Ideally you will discuss your thoughts with someone else too, as this will enable you to see things you can not see alone. There are more details about the three steps below.
Are you “standing in your power”? If not... What do you choose to do?
3 Steps to Help You Have “Tough” Conversations
Get Clear About What You Really, Really Want…
This seems like a no brainer but often we are so busy reacting to life that we don’t take the time to figure this out. Most people are not crystal clear about what they really, really want. It is not only important to know what you want, it helps to know why you want it. What is the outcome you desire? What will having that give you? Give yourself time and mind space to think about this.
Suggested Action… Ask yourself the question above over and over again. Find 15 minutes everyday day for a week to and write down what comes up. Once you are clear, check in with yourself on a regular basis (once a week or once a month) to see if anything has changed.
Release Emotions Prior to the Conversation…
How you express yourself is just as important as what you say. After all, you want people to hear you right? It is common to bring emotions, about the past and the present, into a conversation. When this happens people tend to be so busy thinking about how to defend themselves that they do not hear or understand you. It is critical think about how what you are saying will be received. How can you avoid putting the person you are speaking to on the defensive? How can you express yourself calmly and respectfully so you can be heard?
Suggested Action… Practice what you want to say with someone who will be kind, objective and will be honest with you. Have them tell you how they would feel if they were on the other end of the conversation. Work through your emotions until you are able to release them enough to have a calm convesation.
Be Prepared to Move Forward…
It is the difference between wanting someone to hear and understand you and needing a specific outcome to occur. When you are “ok” with the best case and worst case scenarios, this helps you move forward. You can not control what people other people hear, do or say, you can only control yourself. Think about what will help you move forward no matter what? How are you looking for life to change? What is most important to you?
Suggested Action… If you can, talk this through with someone who is kind, objective and will be honest with you. Think through the best and worst case scenarios. Then, think about what life will be like in 1 year 3 years and in 5 years for both outcomes. How will that affect you? This will give you clarity about what you want to do.
What Kind of Data Are You Gathering?
I am often asked how I was able to quit my job and travel around the world. I admit when the thought first crossed my mind it felt crazy and outlandish. After all, who leaves a high paying job with a prestigious company to travel around the world in a bad economy? Maybe someone with a sizable trust fund but not someone like me. Taking a break was a foreign concept for me, I had worked three jobs for most of my life, and I was surrounded with logical data that supported the fact that this was insane.
Yet, staying in my current work situation felt as if I was walking the plank each day. While there were many perks and it was hard conceptualize giving these up, the overall culture did not feel a healthy to me; it was all consuming and my boss’s actions were disturbing. The stress and long hours were chipping away at my physical health and mental well being.
I started by exploring traditional options like: finding another job within the corporation, working for a competitor, looking for something completely new and outside of my industry etc… but my heart kept returning to the possibility of quitting my job. The fantasy of taking a break and taking a trip around the world to explore other cultures and figure out what would really “light me up” both inside and out kept pulling me forward. I began to BELIEVE that I could make this happen and the data to support my decision started to appear.
Once I decided to take action and see where it led me, my intuition created a cocoon of calmness that helped me trust that I would figure out whatever came my way. My logical mind kept sending doubts and fears but I held onto the belief that I could do this which enabled me to continually take action, find solutions and make it happen. When my fears shouted “What in world are you doing?” and “Who do you think you are?”, I gathered more data to believe with more confidence that what ever came up I could figure out. Serendipitous occurrences continued to reinforce my decision… like accidentally finding a fax which informed me of the exact date I need to stay to in order to get my bonus. Without any magical powers, when I started to believe my heart and trust my gut and intuition everything started to come together.
This quote gives me goose bumps and reminds me that when you “truly” believe you can do something, you will move heaven and earth to make it happen. You will go to great lengths to gather data to prove that, yes indeed, it can be done. On the flip side, if you do not believe you can do something, you will also gather data to convince yourself that you cannot achieve what you want and block yourself from making it happen.
By February 8, 2008 I felt like a five year old on the first day of school, full of excitement and anticipation. Walking out of my office that day I felt free! BELIEVING and taking action changed my life..
Are you thinking about making a change? If following your current path feels like you are settling, I urge you to BELIEVE you too can find what you are looking for. Instead of gathering data about why you can not do something start to look for the data that shows it can be done. It is out there.
Start to TRUST your heart and intuition and GO FOR IT! Take ACTION because you can stall forever and deep down you know your next chapter is waiting to be started! Have FAITH that whatever challenges arise you will figure it out. Check out the tips below to help.
Think About This When You Are Gathering Data…
It is common to gather data to support our decision to NOT take action. Often the real issue are that you are afraid of failure, scared about how things might change, concerned about looking good, worried about taking a risk and falling on your face, afraid you might get hurt, etc… I can guarantee you that you will be able to find someone to agree with you that it is too hard and impossible to achieve your goal. That is if you want reasons not to take action.
However, here is the dilemma; it is easy to find evidence for BOTH sides of the argument. What would happen if you presented your fears as questions for a real debate? Ask yourself if you have created an accurate picture when gathering your data or are you simply listening to the side that made you feel better about not taking action.
Ask yourself… “How true is that?”. It may be easier to focus on what you want to hear but remember that it won’t help you reach your goals.
Are You Helping Yourself or Hiding Out?
Starving when I walk in the door, I quickly change into my cozy grey DePaul t-shirt, and black Lululemon yoga pants, then head for the kitchen. In search of a quick fix for my hunger, I look for anything that I can prepare in 5 minutes or less. Mindlessly I devour my food while standing in the kitchen. Then I head for living room. I melt into my oversized green chair, put my feet up on the ottoman and relax with my TV. It is a familiar routine; up early, home late. Exhausted. When I am home I look for a much needed break from thinking about my next “need to dos” after another hectic 10 hour day. I want to escape the nonstop part of my life for a while.
We all have ways in which we choose to mindlessly escape the world. Every day we are sent endless messages that encourage us to engage in temporary fixes that claim to make our life easier and better. During the most busy times of my life, I recall rewarding myself in a variety of ways. I choose the drama on television to escape the real stuff in my life. I watched chic flicks on a Saturday afternoon when I felt too tired to do anything else. When I felt stressed I found relief in food or a diet coke and a few too many cocktails on occasion. The ease of “take out” often trumped eating healthy when the last thing I had the energy to do at the end of a day was cook and then clean up. Sometimes I would go shopping and buy myself clothes, purses, and shoes that I didn’t need. These were my rewards for working too way to much and they often ended up in a garage sale or donated to charity barely used. Does any of this sound familiar? If so read on.
We all need breaks, especially when life gets hectic. My “solutions” described above provided a temporary release. After a while these coping mechanisms took over my free time. Tuning out became an excessive ritual and I started to loose touch with myself. I felt numb or indifferent instead alive and excited about each day. When I realized my actions were blocking me from the life I wanted and messing with my health, I chose to tune back in.
First I determined which of my habits served me better as exceptions instead of the norm. I looked for the best and most healthy ways to be in relationship with myself. As I started to make healthier choices with my time, I found myself engaging in activities that made me feel more alive. Cutting back on my TV consumption gave me time to read the books on my shelf and the magazines that had been piling up. Taking classes allowed me to explore something new and gave me a reason to get my out of the office at a decent hour. Hiring a personal trainer provided motivation to get to the gym. Deciding to hike the Grand Canyon for charity literally changed my life. Raising money for a great cause, discovering new places and getting exercise appealed to me because my free time was limited and this met many of my “want tos”. Through this I met interesting people that became life long friends. Our conversations opened my mind to new possibilities which led me to my amazing husband among other things. When I reconnected with myself and got out of my own way, I became healthier and happier.
How are you spending your down time? Are your rituals serving your best interests and helping you move forward or are they simply filling your time and keeping your situation the same? I hope that you make time to do the things that will help you move forward toward your dreams.
Action Ideas & Tips:
First Step… Assess Your Current Situation:
Look at your coping mechanisms. Recognize how you escape the world and how it makes you feel. Think about not only the short term benefits but also realize how your actions are impacting you in the long term. Are you zoning out too much, too little or for just the right amount of time? Are you finding yourself saying life is ok or frickin’ fabulous?
Second Step… Determine What Changes You Want To Make:
When you think about your goals and aspirations, will continuing to do what you are doing help you get where you want to go? What makes you happy and rejuvenates you? What do you want to start doing? What do you want to stop doing? Of the things you want to continue, do you want to spend the same amount of time doing them?
Third… Set Yourself Up for Success:
Start by making small changes and build on them. You do not need to take everything on at once. The most effective way to break a habit is to replace it with a new one. When you look at something you want to change, what would be a more helpful way to spend your time?
Don’t delay on taking action until when (FILL IN YOUR EXCUSE). I have listed a few ideas above that worked for me or but there are many many more options to try. Everyone is unique and it may take a few attempts to figure it out. I suggest you pilot new things until you find what works best for you.
Start taking action today or you may find yourself in the same place next year.
What Inspires Your Mind and Makes Your Heart Leap?
If your mind is searching for clues to answer this question you are not alone. Often people are unable to answer this simple question because they are living in what I call “survival mode”. I happen to be a master at operating in survival mode as I have spent years living in it. Even today I occasionally get caught in a wave that tugs me back in that direction. What I have learned is that when your day to day revolves around chasing your next have to it is not uncommon to feel numb and/or uninspired by your life.
Survival mode is usually sparked by a life changing planned or unplanned event. It could have been caused by the birth of a child, an ill parent, you starting a new job or possibly your own business. It could be a combination of many things; there are endless possibilities. Whatever happened it seriously disrupted your day to day life. Maybe it felt like a tsunami, or maybe little by little, the time you spent taking care of your physical, mental and social needs evaporated.
When you are living in survival mode, often, you are neglecting important areas of your life (your health, your career, personal life… what ever it may be). However in most moments all your energy is focused on getting through the day. When you wake up in in survival mode it is not uncommon that you immediately leap into action, worried about how you will get it all done. Even if little to none of your have to’s excite you, the stress propels you forward.
The most side serious effect of survival mode is that your life begins not to resemble you. Your needs and desires stop being met and you no longer feel inspired or excited about how you spend your time. Even a simple question, like What do you do for fun?, becomes difficult to answer. If the people around you (work, significant other, kids, etc… ) are clear about what they want and are trying to fulfill their needs they may be looking for your help. It is easy to say yes to them, without realizing that this may mean that you are saying no to you. The times that you feel frustrated and even resentful can be softened with the satisfaction that comes from helping others. One of the perks of being needed is that it may help you avoid the unknown. You can claim, with reason, that you do not have time to think about it and/or make changes.
If you resonate with what I am talking about you have a choice. You can continue to live in survival mode or find ways to break free. Survival mode is not a life long sentence. If you cannot connect to your needs and desires it is nearly impossible to get them met. The cycle of filling other peoples needs and your life not moving forward will continue. Living in survival mode for an extended period of time means that you are helping others live their life and forgetting to live your own. Are you ready to start living your live again? If you need a reminder, please know that you deserve to love your life!
Action Ideas & Tips:
Are you ready to re-connect with what inspires your mind and makes your heart leap?
1) Make Regular Appoints with Yourself
Make yourself a priority. Put time on your calendar to give your mind breathing space. It may be helpful to decide that during this time you will do something that is relaxing and adopt the airline take off policy, turning off anything that has a power switch or battery. Eliminating distractions allows us to tune into ourselves.
A few ideas… go for a run, take a bath, read a book, meditate or paint.
2) Start Asking Yourself Questions
If you wanted to get to know another person you would ask them questions and listen intently to their answers. You can get to know yourself by asking questions like the ones below and exploring where that takes your thoughts. Record this in some way.
A few ideas to record your thoughts… write in a journal, record yourself in audio or type the answers on your computer.
A few questions to get you started… What did you do for fun before? What energizes you? What do you miss most about your life?
3) Take Yourself Out
Make plans to go out with yourself. Explore something that interests you to see how you like it. When things get hectic, it is easy to push your needs aside and that is where accountability can help show how committed you are. There are many studies that show when people have something financial at stake they are much more likely to follow through. If you want to work out and are having problems getting your butt to the gym, hiring a trainer can increase your commitment level.
A few ideas… take a class, commit to donating to a cause you don’t agree with if you don’t meet your deadline or consider hiring a coach.
~ Something to Think About ~
If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going, Any Path Will Do.
~ Poignant advice from the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland