Something about this word “powerless” is continuing to really resonate with me. I’m feeling very introspective about it.
Powerless at the hands of an abuser or a bully.
Powerless against the current political regime.
Powerless under expectations of others.
Powerless in my fight against anxiety.
When we give away or lose our power and control, we are missing something fundamental.
The loss of control is scary. Like jumping off a cliff and not knowing what to do during the fall or what is below you.
So, how do we take back our power?
Here are 6 ways to take back your power and control:
- Stand up for yourself. Whether is it a bully hurling insults, a coworker subtly being a jerk, or your significant other saying something rude. If you call people out on these things and stand up for yourself, you will be less of a target next time around. People hate being called out and forced to recognize if they are doing something crappy, and you will be able to wrench back some of your power. If you would ever advise your friend to say no or stand up for themselves, then you should also be practicing what you preach.
- Admit that there is a problem. I have done many breathing exercises and meditation practices to try to quell my anxiety, but as it got worse over time, I found it harder to control and really allowed it to take over, using up hours of my brain power every day. Once I finally admitted to myself that this was a problem, I was able to take steps to see a doctor and get on medication, which has been extremely effective for me. Admitting you need help is the biggest step to actually getting help.
- Stop making excuses. Whenever you try to shift blame or make excuses as to why something is done, you are letting go of your own control. You are your own person and you must be self-aware enough and adult enough to admit you made a mistake and take responsibility. Everyone makes mistakes, so instead of denying them or ignoring them, learn from them and the consequences so that you can grow as a person and not make that same mistake again.
- Be an active participant in your life. If you are frustrated by the current political climate, get involved! Go campaign for a candidate you believe in, make sure to vote in local elections, participate in protests, or just be honest with your feelings and talk to people. Back up your claims with evidence and don’t ever resort to name-calling in an argument! If you are unhappy in your relationship, you’re allowed to leave. Even if you think there isn’t a “good enough” reason. Stop asking permission for things in life and actively do the things you want and make choices to get you there. Don’t just react to things that happen to or around you, be proactive and make choices!
- Remember that “No” is a complete sentence. If someone is trying to get you to do something you don’t want to do, or push you to take the blame for something you didn’t do, or trying to emotionally guilt or manipulate you, remember that you are allowed, nay encouraged, to say no to things that don’t make you happy. Stop JADE-ing (justify, argue, defend, explain) your choices. “No.” is a complete sentence. Use it.
- Set boundaries and stick to them. Along with saying no to things you don’t want and standing up for yourself, it is important to examine yourself and learn what your own boundaries are. Everyone is different, but once you identify your boundaries, you can start making rules for the people in your life. For example, one boundary might be that you refuse to talk to your sibling if they are just going to call you names or rag on your spouse. This is a perfectly fine boundary to have, and you’ll need to have consequences in mind for when your sibling stomps over it. Basically, you might be on the phone with them and they start to cross the boundary. You can either give a warning “Hey, I won’t allow you to say that about my spouse. Do it again and I’m hanging up.” and then stick to that, or simply end the conversation. “I won’t allow you to treat me this way. You know I hate it and I am hanging up.” And then do it. It’s not other people’s jobs to stick to your boundaries, it is YOUR job to enforce them for your own happiness and comfort.
BONUS 7th tip: For physical control and power, consider taking a self-defense class so that you can become more confident in your ability to defend yourself. It can feel extremely powerful and confidence-boosting!
Go from powerless to powerful and take back control in your life. We are done giving it away.