In the world of self-improvement, gaining power over our life decisions is a huge topic. When trying to make life improvements, power is where it's at - we never seem to have enough, and we need much more of it.
But to be honest, I think we're using the word wrong. (...or I just don't like the word altogether)
I looked up the word (as I do with a lot of words, Google is my best friend) the definition of power is "The ability or right to control people or things. The capacity to direct or influence behavior of others or the course of events." Yea, that doesn't feel so good to me.
Two words stick out to me in this definition - control and direct. It makes it seem like one person knows what's best for another. And in some situations, this is correct. Think of a healthy parent for a young child - they direct what that child eats, when they go to sleep, etc. They have the power and rightly so - the child cannot take care of his/herself. They are powerless. It's not until later on (think of the power struggles with teenagers) that this feeling becomes strong.
When we feel powerless, we believe:
"I have no control" "I can't make decisions" "I'm helpless"
As a child, I was very sensitive to the people around me. Whenever there was conflict or disagreement, I'd feel it. And without knowing it then, I felt powerless. I couldn't change what was happening. And being the type of person that I was, I took it on.
Can you relate to this now as an adult? Maybe you feel it when others make decisions that you don't agree with but that affect you. Maybe others believe you should do something a certain way but you think differently. Maybe you're in a situation that you feel you shouldn't be in. It's a feeling of powerlessness.
But now we have voices. We can stand up for ourselves. We know we don't want to feel powerless. That did not feel good as a child. We've been told we don't need to deal with difficult situations anymore as an adult. We can control it ourselves. So we want to change the situation. But we don't know how because maybe for such a long time, we've gone along with it. But not now. Not anymore.
So in relationships, we may feel we have to make the person see that what they are doing is wrong, what they believe isn't what we believe. Maybe we get angry, complain and only thinking about how it "should" be versus how it really is. We feel the need to be direct and control. We think we know what's best for certain situations.
Then it turns into a power struggle mentality. We may believe:
"Nobody can tell me what to do" "No one can control me" "It shouldn't be like this" "Why can't they see?"
Can you relate? How does this type of mentality make you feel? For me, it becomes frustrating and exhausting. When I think of the symbols of power in the media, the image is usually of a closed fist.
And I get it - I've been there. I felt powerless and didn't like it.
I became that person, thinking I knew everything - and not just for myself but for others too.
Imagine how hard it was for me to hold my tongue?
But eventually I discovered that it wasn't about telling others what was best for them.
It wasn't about trying to get them to understand.
It was something completely different.
It was about finding the power in another way.
Can we see where our power is? Maybe it's not in the power, per say, but in the empowerment.
I looked up the definition of empower (of course) and I found that it's to "make (someone or yourself) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights." That feels so much better, don't you think?
It's about lifting people up, not tearing them down. It's about allowing people to be where they are without telling them where they need to be. It's about being where you are, without needing other people to understand it. It's about allowing yourself to become stronger and more confident without pushing others into it too. It's not about controlling and directing, it's about compassion and empathy.
NOTE: Sometimes we have to go from one extreme to the other in order to find the middle ground. So if you find yourself in either the powerless or power struggle phase, don't fret. You're just on one end of the pendulum and trying to find your way to the middle. (I get it - I've been there!)
Also, this is more directed at non-abusive situations. No one deserves abuse, whether it's physical, sexual, mental or emotional. Sometimes you have to take power in a direct way, like a restraining order, in order to ensure physical and personal safety.
Intuition is that gut feeling, your instinct and Huffington Post even calls it the GPS for your soul. It's that "ability to understand something immediately without the need for conscious reasoning." (according to Google.com) It's an "inner knowledge" that you are headed in the right direction on your life's path. It gives you guidance, support and understanding about your life's purpose.
With all that said...Do you understand your intuition? Are you tuned into it? Do you live your life according to it? And if not, do you want to learn how?
Here are 2 major ways intuition is with you (or telling you something!):
1. Do you ever notice when "things line up" in your life? Things just seem to fall into place for you where you weren't expecting it. Intuition is natural and flowing, it's never forced. And I believe that when hurdles come up, they are there for a reason.
Some of you probably know that I am obsessed with Brene Brown. (I'm her Social Worker groupie lol) So about a year ago, I set out to go to graduate school to become the "next Brene Brown" and do research I was passionate about. I wanted to make it happen. I was focused and determined. I called a former professor for help, I looked into different schools, started to work on ways to get accepted and looked into financial obligations. But as time went on, blocks came up...it was getting close to deadlines...I found out I'd have to move...and plus it would be expensive. I just didn't have the kind of motivation that I thought I would have for it. Things were not lining up for me. Some might say I didn't want it enough but I say...hurdles are there for a reason. They are telling you that this may not be the path for you. (And even though I won't be the "next Brene Brown," the original is pretty damn good. Check her out here, here and here)
Start to tune into your path when things "line up." If there's a vacation you want to go on and everything seems to be "right" - the price, the location, the timing the person you're going with - listen to that. But if it's not lining up, don't force anything to happen because you believe it's supposed to happen. Listen to your intuition.
2. Do you find yourself drawn to certain people, places or experiences? You may not know why or how but something catches your eye and you want to explore it. It just feels right. Maybe you keep running into the same person and feel you can learn from them. Maybe it's a certain place or experience you're intrigued about. You notice yourself putting energy in one area that was unexpected. You may not understand it from a logical perspective but it's there for a reason. Others may not get it. But if it feels right, it's intuition.
I've shared with quite a few people that my brother is an artist. He started to attend college, majoring in Art Education but not long after, he switched his major to Fine Arts with a concentration in Painting. Just last year, he graduated with his Masters in Fine Arts. When I tell people about him, 100% of the time they make a comment about how hard it must be - to be the "starving artist." And yes, to an extent, it's a profession that has its ups and downs in financial uncertainty. To a logical person, it might be seem like a huge gamble. So I asked him recently why he chose the artist path instead of the art teacher path. He said it was a "gut feeling," that he just knew he needed to make painting his priority. All of his energy was going towards painting not teaching. He felt that in order to live life without regret, he had to go all in. (He also told me that as soon as he declared his major in education, art teachers in the area got laid off...that's NOT a coincidence)
If you want to find out how he's doing with his path, check out his site here
Start to tune into where your energy is going. What's peaking your interest lately? And without using logic or your judgment, trust that your intuition is speaking to you. Start to explore it and see what happens. <3 <3
Things to keep in mind:
Don't look at the outcome of the event to determine whether you were or weren't listening to your gut
(or whether it was a good/bad decision). It's about the experience, not the outcome.
If you can't "figure out" if it's your intuition or not, you need more time.
Reflect. Give yourself quiet solitude and see what comes up.
And if you really can't feel it, maybe we should explore that in therapy.
More posts on intuition:
Spirituality and Health
Have you made your resolutions yet? Don't worry, you don't need to. Start 2016 out strong by living without fear! If you can let go of these 4, you can go through 2016 feeling trusting, peaceful and empowered.
1. Fear of failure
Are you a "black/white" thinker? Do you see things as right or wrong? Maybe you thought you had to pick the "right" college, the "right" job, the "right" relationship. And if you don't do it that way, then you must be doing it wrong. Do you see your decisions as successes or failures?
Instead: Accept and trust yourself. Stepping away from the right/wrong way allows you to see life as experiences and lessons towards discovering more about yourself. There's no right or wrong, there are just more discoveries about your life. When you think about the choices you make in you life, do you see the reasons for making the choices and what you gained from them? Try not to focus on the "outcome" as it blinds you to the lesson. We make decisions at a certain time in our life based on the person we were at that time. Trust that the decisions that you made (and continue to make) are in your best interest.
If you have a hard time with this: Sit with the feelings: sadness, anger, resentment, pain. Don't dwell. Be aware and cognizant of how the feelings truly "feel" in your body. Can you begin to invite acceptance into your body? If you hold on to this fear, can you accept that you are still in the black/white thinking? This awareness can be part of your lesson.
2. Fear of getting stuck in life
Are you afraid of the choices that you make? That you will be stuck in the job that you choose? That you will be stuck in a relationship if you choose the wrong person? Maybe you've seen family members be stuck (and unhappy) doing the same thing over and over again, day in and day out. You know you don't want that and make it your mission to not get stuck.
Instead: Accept and trust where you are in your life. Think about your mindset about the words stuck and changes. What do they mean to you? You may want to write down what comes up. Stepping away from this fear you can look at life as ever-changing. These may not be huge changes but little ones each day. What can you learn more about yourself today? What did you know today that you didn't know yesterday? What risk did you take today that you didn't take yesterday? It can be such a subtle change, but try to see it. It's your mind's interpretation of being stuck that gets in the way of seeing the change. Yes, you may be in the same job/relationship/financial position but can you see what other parts of your life have changed? (What's better is that if you can see the subtle changes, you'll be able to handle the bigger ones!)
If you have a hard time with this: Sit with the feelings of being stuck. How intense is it? What deeper emotions does it bring up (ie. shame)? Can you recognize it? What would it take to imagine yourself making a small change in your day (taking a different route to work, going into Dunkin Donuts instead of going through the drive-thru).
3. Fear of uncertainty
Do you feel you need to know everything before it happens? Are you scared of not knowing how things will turn out? Maybe this fear has taken over so much that it stops you from making decisions to allow you to move forward. Maybe you can only focus on the unknowns (and the negative parts of it) that you stay where you are.
Instead: Trust in yourself. Uncertainty is a part of life, we just don't realize it. We have no idea what the day will bring. If you can sit with that awareness, you may begin to know that you get through it. You'll find out that you can be secure within yourself first and live life fully. Can you let go of the need for control and go through life being open to what life brings at you? Stop planning and start living.
If you have a hard time with this: When you imagine your day, imagine the uncertainties in it. Will your car start? Will something happen at work or at home that is unexpected? I say this not to invoke anxiety but to invite self-trust. Remember that life is uncertain and you make it through, day by day.
Also, check out my post on uncertainty here.
4. Fear of never being enough
Do you always feel like you're trying to achieve an ideal that is never within reach? That you are not pretty/smart/thin enough? Do you compare yourself to others a lot? Maybe you've made decisions based on what other people recommended to you. Whatever you do, it never feels enough.
This is the ultimate of fears.
Instead: Feel whole, right now. You'll be able to go through life with the belief that it doesn't matter how much you make, how big your house is, how much you weigh, what grades you get, that you are still enough. This feeling of enough is not reflective in anyone else's eyes, but in yours. It's not based on what your parents believe or what your friends think, it's about who you are. It's a belief that is deep within you, not necessarily based on your behaviors, but on your core, your heart, that you deserve to be here in earth.
If you have a hard time with this: Imagine yourself when you were younger. Were you a bad person? Were you born not being enough? This isn't based on what teachers/parents/friends told you, it's based on YOU. Take out pictures of yourself when you were younger. Remember yourself back then. Connect with that child and know that you are enough, just as you are.
I hope you begin 2016 with a new perspective on how to live more peacefully and with a fearless heart.
How does it feel to heal your inner wounds? What does it mean to be fully alive?