If I was to ask you here and now- “Do you feel you have power in your life?” How would you answer? What do you think of when the term ‘power’ is used? Do images of physical strength come up, wealth or status? Intellectual power, or family dynamics and relationship power? Is power an uncomfortable word for you? Is it a positive or negative feeling? What experiences of power have influenced your life? Do you see power as a destructive abusive force, or a strong and positive force for good? Is it that black and white or can power mean different things in different settings?
Our personal experiences of power or powerlessness will often dictate how we feel about it. For instance a child growing up in an environment of domestic abuse may associate power as a negative term as the abuser was powerful over others. In contrast a child who grew up in a family wherein choice was offered and they were consulted during decision making for family affairs may feel power is a positive force. It nurtured their ability to feel valued, important and ‘powerful’ having their voice heard by the adults around them. Power means different things to different people and can be interpreted in various ways. For the purposes of this article I am exploring the concept of ‘Personal Power.’
What is personal power? Personal power involves owning who you are, a sense of strength and confidence in oneself and the ability to pursue what really matters to you. So how do you know what really matters to you?…Well by filtering out other people’s influences on your life you can re-connect with yourself in a way that enables deeper insight.
Have a think about what makes you truly happy, what keeps you motivated? What do you value in life? This will help to focus you on your goals and promote your personal power to achieve what you want in life. Positive thinking, a good opinion of yourself and a willingness to learn and develop further encourages personal growth. This in turn increases feelings of self worth and will empower you.
The more you recognize your own likes, dislikes and act on making things happen in your life the more you will be able to deal effectively with adverse circumstances and start to see challenges as opportunities. We live in a highly competitive society that encourages ambition and in order to keep up its important to learn about our own strengths and areas for development so we can keep track of personal progress in every aspect of our lives. Knowing oneself is the key to success in life.
In order to really understand who we are and what we value there is an ancient Japanese ritual that can help. For this exercise you need access to a clock and have two people sitting in a quiet space facing one another. It can be a friend, family member or colleague. Its up to you who you feel comfortable to open up in front of. Once seated you decide which of you will begin and act as the questioner. The questioner will then repeatedly ask the other person the same question “Who are you?” for 10 minutes and the other has to answer saying different things about themselves and who they are. After 10 minutes you switch over and the person who was answering becomes the questioner for 10 minutes. Its amazing what people say in this time-you have to dig deep for answers and many have surprised themselves with what they share. The attention and focus being solely on you forces you to consider yourself in a way that’s never been expected of you before.
Once all the labels are exhausted ‘mother/father/worker/etc many struggle to describe themselves. You have to really think and reflect on who you are in a way that you don’t ordinarily do. You cant repeat the same answers twice and if you run out of answers early on it indicates a distinct lack of knowledge about oneself and limited self awareness. This can be remedied by committing to at least 20–30 minutes daily reflection at a time that suits you, just before bed or first thing in the morning to gather your thoughts. This reflection time can enable you to put things into perspective. For some this may involve keeping a journal thoughts of whats happened each day and processing emotions. For others it might be a silent meditation sitting alone in a quiet space with no distractions and focusing on ones thoughts, feelings and worries. Whatever method suits you, the idea is that you give yourself time and space to reconnect to your authentic inner self and develop your identity and personality further.
Carrying out exercises like the ones above help us to define who we are, what we stand for and allow us to harness our own personal power so that we can become more self aware. It also increases ones emotional intelligence which works wonders in personal and professional relationships. Think about it for a second… when things go wrong at work managers call meetings to discuss issues and trouble shoot right?? Well what I am proposing is that you do the same but for a much more important cause.. YOU, to help improve your own mental health and well being. You become the most important person in the room and are equally if not more worthy of your own time, space, and compassion. Own who you are, own your story and become the best possible version of yourself, according to nobody else but you :)