Our personal power is the key to our wellbeing and personal effectiveness. Personal power is the empowerment of the true self that exists in all of us. It provides us with strength, courage, and compassion throughout all life’s ups and downs. By learning how to improve personal power, we facilitate this life long pursuit of empowerment that encompasses every area of our life.
As you learn how to improve personal power, it is important to differentiate between true power and ego inflation. If I did a good job, and it makes my ego feel good, I might feel powerful. If I am praised, and if makes my ego feel good, I might feel powerful. While these things might help us feel powerful, real personal power comes from internal, not external, motivations. True personal power makes our ego’s grasps at power look like what they are –feeble. Below are 8 steps you can take to improve your personal power. The kind you really want — the real kind.
1. Learn what is in your heart: We are bold in our actions when we are connected with the trough of our heart. The word courage –a form of personal power — is formed from the Latin word cor or heart. When we are aware of the contents of our heart and we know its truth, we are more powerful than we previously might have imagined. Think of the powerful rebellion of Ghandi. When we use our heart as our guide, we become clearer and more resolute. Our confidence is no longer the confidence of superiority but the confidence of devotion.
2. Love and Acceptance of who you are at your core: You are completely perfect and infinitely flawed. Learning to truly love and accept yourself, while still holding yourself accountable for your actions, is a powerful skill that helps you maintain perspective, even as you are being tested and stretched by life’s circumstances. When you find a part of yourself that you are having a difficult time accepting, try asking yourself how this part of you is productive or helpful. Learn to see that there is always a flip side and that, often, negativity or positivity is just a matter of use of that part of yourself, rather than an inherent goodness or badness.
3. The recognition that you have the power to change: A lot of people believe that they have the power to change over the course of their lives, but don’t give themselves the power to change in the moment. You do not need to hold onto something that does not serve you any longer than you want to. Let yourself be at choice in each moment as much as you possibly can. When we truly recognize our choice in each moment is when we truly feel our personal power. Click here to read more on embracing your power of choice and how to change your life when you feel stuck.
4. Take action: When we take actions to create positive outcomes in our lives, we feel more powerful. When you see an opportunity to move things forward, seize the moment. This can be as simple as picking up some trash off the ground or saying something kind to a stranger. It is also important to take action to put boundaries in place for yourself and to give clear feedback to others when things are not going well.
5. You are instrumental in shaping events: Your love, kindness, care, and compassion can sculpt any moment. You have the ability to shift the tide when you see things moving in an unpleasant direction, or add more to things moving in a positive direction. Begin to recognize your contributions to the unfolding of all the events that you experience and you will unlock a giant piece of your personal power.
6. Work with the pain: As much as we want life to be pain free, it is not. The teaching is in the pain. This does not mean you should become obsessed with focusing on the pain of life, but pain does serves as a cue that we are going in the wrong direction or that we are not quite on track. Next time you are feeling this challenge let it remind you to refocus on what it is that you are trying to create.
7. Be with discomfort: Another teaching that helps us step into our personal power is discomfort. Trying to push away all the hard and uncomfortable things in life does not work. When things are hard, it is sometimes necessary to be willing to just let it be hard. Have your anger. Have your sadness. And THEN, move on. Difficult emotions will pass on their own, if we do not hold onto them.
8. Celebrate: Celebrate yourself. Celebrate others. Celebrate your life. Gratitude for all that we have is critical to feeling empowered. When we look at our life or ourselves and see that our efforts have yielded more love, more happiness, more abundance, and we take time to acknowledge these successes, we naturally feel more powerful and more right in our own skin. Find ways to acknowledge you for all of your efforts and gain even more personal power.
As I write the title to this article, I can feel the spirit of Alan Watts frowning. “The point of becoming conscious? There is no “point” to doing a thing,” he might say, “because the activity itself is the reason.” Well hold on Alan Watts, I may not be letting you down after all.
If you are anything like me you have invested a disproportionate amount of time and money into personal development work that has yielded minimal result. When I first started, I was trying to alleviate the intense pain that I was feeling. I was looking for a cure for the human condition. Slowly, but surely, the search for a cure for the human condition led to learning the fundamentals of the practice of life. I began to see that we are not so much looking to fix something, as we are to find ways in each moment to create something that feels good, is positive, and fosters wellbeing.
The point of becoming conscious is to actively practice life. The purpose of therapy is to make us functional, whereas the purpose of consciousness study is to make ourselves, and our world, optimal. In therapy, we want to know how we came to be the way we are. In consciousness exploration, we want to know how to seize our potential. While the path to consciousness can be quite challenging at times (and can leave us wondering why on earth we chose this in the first place), “the point” of it is the lived sense of wellbeing and harmony with the world that we more consistently achieve.
A common misconception about consciousness study is that the point of becoming conscious is to control our lives in order to avoid difficult and painful experiences. This sort of “winning at the game of life” solution is really no solution at all. Regardless of whether we are diligent in our personal development or not, we are guaranteed a fair number of trying events throughout our life. Our years will still have their highs and lows, we will still have misunderstandings, and we will suffer incredible losses.
The point of becoming conscious, the point of personal development work, the point of learning the practice of life – is to learn the techniques that help us identify the pains and lows of life as the beacons of brighter tomorrows. These techniques tear us from the emotional water-wings we have been relying on in our ignorance and highlight the areas of ourselves to which we should turn our attention instead.
The study of consciousness teaches us to listen to and interpret life events differently. As we learn this skill, our reality shifts. What was unbearable, becomes negligible. What was dream-worthy, becomes the foundations for our new reality. We become more resilient, real and kind. The world and it’s meaning opens to us. Our beingness and our life become the point of becoming conscious, the point of everything.
Someone once told me that trying to find their life purpose had them feeling like Charlie Bucket looking for a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory – hopeful, but nihilistically aware of how little chance there was that they’d be heading anywhere other than back to their current unfulfilling life. What nobody told Charlie was that he had really been chosen to receive his ticket and was destined to inherit the factory as a reward for being himself. What nobody tells you about finding your purpose is that you’re already doing it.
Finding your life purpose is a natural, life-long, developmental process that will never be the “fill-in-the-blank” question it’s often made out to be. Many people approach life purpose like they approach a career day in high school. They look quizzically at the different options that have been placed in front of them (careers, relationships, opportunities, etc.), expectantly waiting for the lightbulb moment that tells them “it’s this way!” Inevitably, they are discouraged when this doesn’t happen. What nobody tells you about finding your purpose is that there isn’t one right answer you should wait to stumble across. Your purpose is a result of your life – it is about the small stuff, the things that come naturally to you and the things that you love.
Don’t be the Charlie who resigns himself to a grey life because his first chocolate bar didn’t hold that golden ticket. Be the Charlie who buys another and who braves the factory of the wild and mad Wonka. Your purpose doesn’t have one manifestation, and it won’t walk up to you wearing an “I’m your life purpose” t-shirt. If you feel discouraged and like you just don’t have a life purpose, I invite you to reconsider. Take a look at this list and start looking in a new direction, with a new perspective, rather than settling for what life hands you. Find out what nobody tells you about your finding your purpose and free yourself to actually find it.
It starts with the small stuff: If you want to find your life purpose, start by noticing what you like and how you like doing things. Nothing is too small. How do you approach making breakfast? What do you do in your free time? All of the little things you do give you clues that will collectively help you see your life purpose.
It’s all about what you love: What we love, the way we love it, and the frustrations that we experience in relationship to what we love all help us recognize our life purpose. If you have an affinity for the arts, comic books, or snails, listen! There is some echo of your life purpose in the things that you are drawn toward.
You likely do it naturally: We are made to live our life purpose. There are no mistakes. Our life purpose is made for us and we are made for it. You have everything that you need in terms of aptitude to fulfill your life purpose. You might need to learn some skills along the way, but you have the basics, realized or unrealized, to make it happen.
It is not always a career: Your life purpose is not always about your career. It is helpful to think about how you can live your life purpose across all areas in your life (including your career), but do not limit yourself. Be open to the many ways that that your life purpose can manifest across your life, and you will be more likely to live it.
You have your whole life to figure it out: Oops, did I say that out loud? Finding your life purpose is as much an approach to life as it is a destination. It is to see your life like a piece of artwork and to hone and develop it from start to finish. May you be questing after your life purpose in your final days in the same way you will be learning to love more completely.
You are already underway: Even if you do not have the slightest idea what your life purpose is, you are already underway. Just asking the question implies a certain amount of progress. You do not need to be aware of your steps toward your life purpose for them to count.
It’s easy to talk about how to change your life when you are in a place of growth, but what about how to change your life when you feel stuck? When you find yourself in a hole dug from disempowerment, overexertion, emotional withdrawal, and apathy — and you’re good and stuck — how do you climb back out? The short answer to how to change your life when you feel stuck is to stay engaged and not give up. The long answer (the answer to, “yeah that’s great Kate, but how do I actually DO that?”) is a little more complex and takes a little more personal power.
An idea I often stress in my work is that it’s not the situation you are in, but the way you react to it, that defines your life experience. Your personal power to change your life lies in your ability to define how you react to life. I won’t pretend this is always easy… It’s easy to feel disempowered when reading the news, hearing that a loved one is sick, or finding yourself the brunt of someone’s road wage on your way to work (Leave it to Life to challenge your personal power on the daily…). The key here is not to fall into emotional withdrawal from the world, lest you find yourself in that proverbial hole of stuck-ness. Instead, react with “positive action.”
Throughout life we experience and witness so much negativity that employing “positive action” can sometimes seem a laughable (or sick) joke. How could our actions make a positive difference or have a lasting impact on this ever-changing, vast, often-harsh world? Me? Me, end hatred, hunger, and abuse? Me, ensure social equity, education for all, and protections for our planet? These are impossible-seeming questions and, when we don’t come up with answers, we stop ourselves from seeking solutions.
The hard truth is that, no matter how hopeless action may seem, apathy is noxious. Giving up in the face of adversity will leave you feeling like a half a person, and it demotes the people around you. The answer to how to change your life when you feel stuck, or how to change the world, is to ask different questions. Instead of trying to answer “What can I do to change the world?” (we don’t know, Batman), try “What can I do right now to create something good?,” “Who can I call right now to bring a moment of joy into the world?,” and “Where I can I lend the time I do have?”
The tools you need to change your life when you feel stuck are the same that you need to change the world. They are love, truth, and compassion. I believe that the entire world benefits when you choose to build your life with these tools. Equipped with these three holistic healing tools, you can approach adversity with positive action and transform your world. The answer to how to change your life when you feel stuck lies within you — it always has, and it always will.
If you think you need help bringing love, compassion, and truth to each situation you face, you’re not alone. While we have the inherent ability to do this, the capability takes practice. One resource you can rely on is focused practice of these skills. This is why I developed programs like my LifeWork Community — to provide the tools and the opportunity to practice new ways of being. Another resource is self-education and self-reflection. Below, I’ve provided some more depth on what our toolkit of Love, Truth, and Compassion look like in action. Take a read.
“Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.” — Buddha
Love is the most powerful, world-changing tool we have. I’m fully aware of how Pollyanna this sounds. My challenge to you, though, is this: try it! Get your heart broken, feel disrespected, lose something you really cherish, and see how quickly you can move on from the negativity you feel into LOVE. It takes a high degree of awareness and sophistication to experience our negativity and move beyond it into a place of love. Anyone who has walked this path knows that this is the way of a REAL bad-ass.
The first thing we need to do is cultivate love inside ourselves. To do this we need to hunt down the barriers to love that live within us more ferociously than we hunt down barriers to love in the world outside us.
This does not mean that we turn hatred toward these parts of ourselves. It means we see them,
accept them and let them go.
“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth
what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” — Jesus Christ
Truthfulness is a time-honored and respected trait. To be truthful is to be honest and trustworthy. It requires a commitment to speaking and acknowledging the truth, and to acting with integrity. When we have our truth we also have our respect and love.
While philosophically there are many types of truth, the truth I’m talking about here has a dynamic
holism that is much more easily experienced than written about. There is a paradox around truth, though, and it’s this: truth does not make anything untrue.
Whenever you negate something, there is a lie present. Truthfulness allows for multiple perspectives in a way that honors each of those perspectives. One very common example of this is that if you make yourself wrong you’re not living your truth – nor are you allowing others to live theirs.
“No man is a true believer unless he desireth for his brother that which he desireth for himself.” – Muhammad
To be compassionate is to open your heart to the suffering of others. Compassion, to me, is a healing action. When we offer compassion to ourselves or others we are, in fact, healing ourselves or others. One of the best ways to practice compassion is to tend to our own pain and suffering. Without a doubt, one thing we gain from our own hardship is an ability to give love to others while they experience hardship of their own.
Still, sometimes we might find ourselves feeling closed off or judgmental about others who are in a difficult spot. We can feel wronged and, because of this, feel justified in wanting understanding from the other person. When we do this, we withhold our compassion and do not give our understanding to the person we feel wronged us.
If you want to have an impact on the world, each time you feel wronged stop and take a moment to understand the other person’s perspective.
To change your life when you feel stuck, learn how to effect positive action in the world. Suit up with a toolkit of Love, Truth, and Compassion, and go deep. While I’m certainly not knocking it, you don’t need to start a movement or become a politician to have a positive impact. Focus on being a better person and sharing this with the world, and you’ll elicit transformation in ways you couldn’t have imagined. The skills you need are simple and within the reach of every single one of us. If you need practice or guidance, click here to check out my LifeWork Community program.
I will leave you with this quote from Rumi. “Listen with the ears of tolerance. See through the eyes of compassion. Speak with the Language of love.”