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Not that long ago I got a little slap in the face - the kind that wakes you up and shows you one of those deep truths that you wouldn’t have reached without some kind of trigger. It was during a session with a psychic (don’t laugh, if you’re not into psychics just roll with me and imagine that what I’m about to share was said by a close friend). We were discussing the significance of a particular romantic experience of mine, and I just had to ask, “was it as significant to him as it was to me?” As if she could even tell me that! HA!
But, I want you to listen to her answer carefully and apply it to your life wherever you may be needing this same message.
She said to me “I’m not going to give you the answer you are hoping for. But I’m going to ask you this. Why on earth would you give your authority away? It was REAL for you, so keep that. Keep what was real and beautiful and don’t let how someone else feels take that away from you. When you let him decide whether it was significant or not, you show up as less loveable.”
There are so many ways we unconsciously give our power away, whether that’s in a relationship, work environment, or simply scrolling through our Facebook feed. I’m not talking about power such as dominating over others. I’m talking about the power to be yourself and to trust that your feelings are real, your voice matters, you have a choice, and your gut and intuition were right.
Below are 7 ways you might be unconsciously giving your power away, and here’s a quick yoga practice to take that power back:
1. You let other people dictate how you feel
Do you get this one as often as I do? “You’re being so dramatic!” And then you immediately begin to question whether you are overreacting or start telling yourself you shouldn’t really be feeling that way. Don’t get me wrong, managing your reactions to people or situations that trigger intense emotion in you is an important life skill. However, when you let someone else dictate whether your emotion was valid or not, you are giving up an important part of who you are. One of the ways we can learn to validate our feelings is to take the time to get to know them and try not to attach statements like the one above to it. Your feeling was neither too much nor too little, it was simply what showed up in that instance as a result of whatever unique combination of life experiences you’ve been through that lead to that very moment.
2. You apologize when you didn’t do anything wrong and you give in to guilt trips
You know you didn’t do anything wrong. You acted out of the best knowledge you had at that moment, and yet you gave in when someone tugged at your heartstrings. You said you’re sorry or you committed to doing something you don’t believe in or didn’t want to do so that the other person didn’t feel bad.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to help someone feel less bad, and practicing empathy is certainly an honorable path. However, you are not doing anyone favors by taking responsibility for their feelings or actions. In fact, you are robbing them of owning their feelings which is exactly what I mentioned in my first point above. You can be empathetic and validate their emotions by letting them know you understand that whatever they are going through is difficult for them, and then keep your sorry to yourself.
3. You Can’t Say No
This leads me to one of the most difficult words for us to say. The word NO. How many times have you said yes to something that you knew was not aligned with your values, desires, or mission? For some reason, we tend to think that saying no is the worst thing we can say to someone. However, whenever we say yes to something, we are saying no to something else. When you agree to take on that extra work project that you’ll be spending the weekend doing, you are saying no to spending time with your family, taking care of your body or whatever else is important in your life. Is that really what you want? In my experience, the best way to feel less bad about saying no is to get very clear on your priorities and ask yourself if whatever you are saying yes to is worth giving up those priorities? If you are looking for clarity on what is most important to you I highly recommend that you read the book “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less,” by Greg McKeown.
4. You tell yourself you have no choice
This one goes along with saying no. You ALWAYS have a choice. True, sometimes you have to make difficult choices. Does either presidential candidate seem appealing to you? No! Sometimes it’s just about choosing a lesser evil. But you do have a choice. Pay close attention the next time you tell yourself you can’t do something because of X reason. Very often it is again a matter of priorities. Sometimes it’s a matter of taking a leap of faith. Sometimes it’s shifting your perspective or getting out of your comfort zone. No one but you gets to decide what you do with your time and energy so get in the driver’s seat and choose where you want to go!
5. Too many things you do feel like an obligation
So now it’s time to mention all those things and people you feel obligated to. If obligation is weighing heavy on you, you may want to ask yourself where you fit into your obligations. Helping others is very admirable, but what personal price are you paying to do so? It’s actually healthy, and not at all selfish to have a limit to what you are willing to do for others. Self-sacrifice should come from the heart and lift you up too. If it doesn’t, you haven’t taken care of your needs. How many times have you been on a flight and watched that safety video where they tell you to put your oxygen mask on first and then help your child? That’s exactly what I’m talking about.
6. You tell yourself you’re too busy for self-care
That brings me to my next point. How many times have you told yourself you are too busy to do something for yourself? If you want to show up in all the different places in your life with your best foot forward, you have to nurture yourself too. Self-care can mean different things to different people. Your idea of self-care might be going for a jog and someone else’s might be kicking back on the couch with an inspiring book. If you are not sure what self-care is to you try to think of what activity would best restore your energy, and hey, maybe that’s just allowing yourself an extra hour to sleep in! However you choose to give yourself some “me” time, let yourself be important even if it is for just 10 minutes a day.
7. Your self-worth depends on other people’s opinions of you
How often do we check our facebook or instagram to see who liked our post? If you don’t do this then congratulations, you’ve beaten the system! However, even offline, many of us look for external confirmation of whether we are worthy or loveable. We want our boss to tell us we did a good job, we want our partners to tell us how much we mean to them, we want our customers to give us good ratings. All of this is wonderful to receive, and if you are in the position of giving this feedback genuinely I think the world could always use more of it.
However, it is also important to have an internal feedback system that sends you healthy and positive messages too. Just because he didn’t write or call doesn’t mean you are not loveable. Just because your boss doesn’t congratulate you doesn’t mean you didn’t put in your best effort. Your worthiness doesn’t depend on other people’s opinions of you. And just for the record, there’s always gonna be haters, so just keep on doing you and let them own their own feelings and problems.
8. You ignore your intuition, gut, or feeling about something
Our bodies give us signals that are often far closer to the truth than our thoughts. Thoughts can easily be manipulated by others and even by ourselves! How many times do we tell ourselves that a feeling we had about something must not be true? When you did follow your gut or intuition has it ever steered you horribly in the wrong direction? We live in a world with a lot of emphasis on logic and intellectual truth. While there is nothing wrong with analyzing and processing your experiences by thinking about them, it is just as important to develop a sensitivity to what your body is trying to communicate to you. Often when we get sick that is just our body’s final attempt to get its message across loud and clear. Nobody ever got sick and said, “Wow, I feel so self-empowered.”
Take the time to get back in touch with your body, find your inner worth, restore your energy, say and do what is aligned with your values, trust your feelings, and get in the driver’s seat of your life. If you’d like to step into your power on a regular basis, I invite you to start a free 7-day trial of my online yoga membership. Inside you will find vinyasa and yin style yoga practices and self-reflection / mindfulness exercises to support you in all aspects of creating a meaningful life, on and off your mat.