I recently received an email from one of my readers asking me about giving away power. That term gets thrown around a lot and it got me thinking: what does it even mean to “have power”? To me, power is the ability to create change in your life. Change for the better. Growth. It’s to be in control of your reactions and to feel your feelings. It’s to understand and accept who you are, what you want, and to make no apologies for any of those things.
Power is not about intimidating others or using aggression to get what you want. Power is about knowing your worth enough to ask clearly and with confidence for what you want. (Tweet that!) Because if you don’t, the answer will almost always be “no”.
Perhaps people are also unclear about what it really means to “give it away”. I’ve compiled a list of things you might be doing that are clear indicators that you’re giving away your power.
1. Hustling for your worthiness: Brené Brown says, “hustling for your worthiness” includes, pleasing, perfecting, pretending and proving. In other words, if you’re not feeling you are worthy of love and acceptance, you might find yourself going overboard trying to please everyone by doing things you don’t really want to do, or saying yes when you really want to be saying no. Perfecting is just that. Busting your ass to make sure everything is tied up with a pretty bow, hiding your feelings that might look “messy”, and working on making your outsides look like a million bucks because you’re afraid of what might happen if you actually admit that you’re falling apart inside. Pretending might look like saying, “Fine” when really everything isn’t. And proving is that constant needing to show the world what you’re doing and feeling, all in an attempt to cover up what’s really happening inside.
2. Tolerating toxic relationships: Everyone has someone in their life that ranges from not bringing out the best in them, to totally sucking the life and soul from them. It could be a family member, friend, co-worker, anyone. If you’re tolerating these people and their toxic behavior, you’re essentially giving them a part of you that isn’t being reciprocated. In other words- if you’re putting up with their bullshit antics, you’re creating a roadblock for the kind of relationships that deep down you really want and deserve.
3. Being overly passive: Some people are naturally passive. And if that’s your inherent personality, that’s a beautiful thing. However, when you give power away is when you fail to stand up for yourself. When you have that feeling in your body that tells you that you’ve been wronged and you do nothing about it. When you take shit from people and you know you shouldn’t be. This usually boils down to fear and lack of confidence.
4. Letting your dreams just be dreams: You have one, we all do. Maybe it’s not to be the next American Idol; maybe it’s to be happier. Or healthier. Whatever it is, if you sit around and wish for it, and your next thoughts are, “But, I can’t because……” you’re cheating yourself. You’re giving away your power to your inner-critic. You’re essentially spoon feeding it.
5. Being manipulated: (Oh man, do I have personal experience with this one.) Manipulators have one goal: to control other people in order to get what they want. The way they do this might vary (threatening, giving you guilt or demeaning you, or even flattery) but basically their goal is always the same. By not standing up for yourself, not setting boundaries, or by making excuses for your manipulator, you’re giving your power away.
6. Not believing in yourself and/or not accepting yourself: Taking charge of your own power is determined by how you feel about yourself. You can basically use how you feel about yourself as a barometer to measure not only how much power you have, but if you’re going to use it. Every time you give you power away under any circumstance, you're showing yourself and the world that there is room for improvement in the realm of believing in and accepting yourself.
7. Allowing your inner-critic to make decisions: If you live in a place where your inner-critic— or “gremlin” as I like to call it— is on constant replay in your head, you are giving your power away. Your gremlin likes you to live in fear of the unknown, paralyzes you in indecision, and keeps you stuck.
Bottom line: You have the power to create what you want. It’s inside of you. You are more powerful than you ever imagined. By giving it away, it’s like throwing your hard earned money in the air for others to take. Why not keep it and use it?