Empower, Heal

Tales of Woe: How to Stop Giving Your Power Away

Have you ever observed yourself going on-and-on about the disappointments and sorrows bringing you down in life?  Do you often tell tales of being victimized by others or external circumstances? Let’s be real: we are all guilty of this at times in our lives, especially when the chips are down and we can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. What is important is that we observe how we tell our stories, because it will have a huge impact on our lives. If you are the victim in most of your stories, have you considered what the pay off is for you being in this role?

In order to take back your power, you have to be mindful of what you speak into existence, and more importantly, the story you tell yourself about the circumstances you are in or have been in. In order to be powerful, you must learn how to be the hero in your story. How do you do that? By becoming aware of the victim and hero persona that lives inside of you and deciding to tell your story as the hero. Let’s take a look at these personas that live inside of all of us.

How to Spot the Victim

 When you are in victim mode, you are not interested in finding solutions to the problems in your life: you are interested in telling anyone who will listen about the your  disappointments in your life. You find yourself getting caught up in things from the past that cannot be changed no matter how many times the story is told. It is all about what others are doing to you and how you are the blameless bystander caught in the crossfire. Does this sound familiar?

At one point in my life, this was my star role: I loved nothing more than to tell anyone who would listen to me about my painful childhood or the cheating boyfriends of my past. The one thing that all of my stories had in common was that I was helpless—the victim—and the pay off was the support and sympathy I received from others. I was not interested in actual solutions to my problems, but I wanted nothing more than to tell you all about them—over and over again.

Of course at the time, you couldn’t have convinced me I was playing the victim role; after all, I had all of the evidence of wrongdoing I needed. What I failed to realize is that by telling these stories over and over again, I was actually disempowering myself. I felt hopeless, exhausted and just plain tired of the circumstances I was in or talked about from my past. I didn’t make the connection between what I was saying to myself—and everyone else—and my lack of self-supporting actions. I was waiting on someone else to rescue me and make it better. If your story consists of what you can’t do/have/be because of ________ (fill in the blank), you are stuck in victim mode. How will you ever rise to be the powerful person you were created to be if it depends on the behaviors of others? Think about it, if you believe someone else holds the power to your life working out the way you would like, how does that make you feel?

How to Spot the Hero

The hero is willing to sit in the driver’s seat and take on all the responsibilities that come with that, including telling the truth about all of their experiences to date like the rotten childhood or betrayal of friends and lovers. They do not deny or pretend that everything is fine when it is not; but, they do own their power to choose.  They understand they are in fact powerful and tell themselves empowering stories like the great life lessons they have learned and how it has set them up for future successes. Their focus is on what they are capable of doing rather than on what others are not doing or didn’t do. The hero understands that controlling others is not an option no matter how many times you beg, plead or get angry. The hero understands they have the power to change their lives one choice at a time, and although it may not be an easy choice to make,  it is always available.  The hero understands the power of narrative and takes control of their story by actively engaging in behaviors that affirm and support their sense of self-worth and value.

It All Comes Down to You

 In the end, you must decide for yourself how you will show up in the world. The truth is, being the victim is easy because it requires no personal responsibility; but, it also requires you to give your power away to something or someone “out there.”   In order to take back your power, you must give up the ghost of the victim mindset; it is uncomfortable, nerve-racking and induces a lot of fear because it means you are in control. It means you understand and acknowledge your power as a creator of your life and your destiny. It means you have a choice. Will you choose to live your life as a victim or as a hero?

Empower, Inspiration

Hazards on the Road to Self-Empowerment

Have you be been making positive changes in your life? Maybe you have completed your degree, received a promotion at work or eliminated some bad habit like eating fast food. You know you want a better life for yourself and you have developed some good habits to move you in that direction, but what you did not expect is how uncomfortable you would begin to feel in old, familiar relationships. You know, the ones that stay exactly the same no matter how many years go by? You weren’t told about the increased sense of isolation and loneliness you would feel when you attempted to go “back” to old places with familiar faces.

The problem is your mindset is changing but you are attempting to hang out with people who haven’t changed and have no interest in changing.  One of the hardest things about growing and evolving is letting go of the things and people who no longer serve your highest good. It can feel like a betrayal to move on without people who have been a part of your life for a long time.

When you begin to take responsibility for life, you take action to solve your problems rather than sitting around complaining about them; your desire to succeed supersedes your fear of failure and you are willing to try new things; you separate yourself from the crowd by deciding what you want to create in your life rather than letting life decide what you will have.  As you become more willing to live an empowered life, many people will have to exit your life, and it is usually the people who are not interested in paying the price to have a better life. It is uncomfortable and heartbreaking at times, especially when this calls for separation from some family members. It can feel like your world is being ripped apart—it is—because of the exposure to new ways of being in the world. Your beliefs have changed or expanded, so it will be impossible to find comfort with people from your past who maintain the same set of limited beliefs from back-in-the-day that you now know are not true. And it is not just you: the people from your past will often be uncomfortable around you because your presence serves as a reminder to them that what they believe to be true is inaccurate. The bottom line is no one wants to be proved wrong about what they believe is possible because then there are no more excuses; it creates a situation where they are forced to get real with themselves about what they are not doing in their own life to improve their circumstances. This is not exactly comforting and welcoming, so don’t expect a warm reception.

Do not—I repeat—do not attempt to return to old relationships with the hopes of finding comfort or being warmly embraced by those who have the same mentality they had 10 years ago. At times, growth does require pain, and you will experience loneliness as you let go of what once was true to embrace the new, improved person you will become. Even if you can’t see it now, the initial sense of isolation and loneliness on the journey to empowerment will pass. You will find new people who align with your expanded beliefs about the world and your place in it.

Empower

Growing Pains: The Path to Creating a Life You Love.

How many of you are daydreaming right now about your ideal life while sitting in a cubicle in some nondescript building? Does it seem like the world is passing you by? Do you tell yourself: I will create my ideal life, but first I have to…. (fill in the blank).Whether your reason for not creating a life you love is money, time or relationship drama, the truth of the matter is there is a simple way to start designing a life you love today. And that way is to learn how to take concrete things from your daydreams and bring them into your environment now. In other words, you start practicing now how to grow into the person you desire to be. What do I mean by that? Let’s answer some key questions first.

  1. List five things your ideal life has in it. Here are some examples to think about. What do you do for work?  How do you dress? What types of people are in your social circle? How do you spend you free time in your ideal life?  What kind of activities are you involved in?
  2. What is one thing you think is missing from your present life that you have in your future life? Again, think concrete when answering this question. Maybe your future self has a certain type of degree or a million dollars in an investment account. The options are endless.
  3. Imagine you daydream has become a reality. What would you do differently in your day-to-day life? The more details the better.

Ok, now you have the clarity, so it is time to embrace the growing pains.

The only way to make the daydream real is to live it now. You must stretch yourself to a new level one small detail at a time. Let’s say your future self is an advertising executive who wears expensive suits and and carries a leather satchel. Guess what you are going to do? You are going to go out and purchase these items and wear them now. If you don’t have unlimited funds at your disposal, it is time to make friends with the resale shops, vintage stores, or thrift stores. The point of answering the above questions is to get you to step into the life you daydream about now. This gives you a chance to embody this new identity in your present life and it will increase your confidence and competence as it becomes more familiar to you.

Yes, it is going to be uncomfortable at first because it is unfamiliar territory. You can expect to stumble around in the dark as you attempt to orient yourself to this new way of being. Think about it: you are attempting to give birth to a new life. It is a process and there will be pains along the way. Growth occurs in spurts and you will not get it right the first time around. That is ok!  Keep moving towards what you want anyway because taking the time to get right with yourself and what you really want will right everything in your life.

Act, Empower

F.E.A.R. of Flying

Lately, I have been experiencing these fleeting moments of clarity that provide me with a sense of peace about moving towards one of my dreams—on the one hand—only to be overwhelmed by feelings of trepidation. I run to the precipice filled with excitement about creating a new life and just as I am about to fling myself into the abyss, I stop dead in my tracks and start running back to that old familiar place. And quite frankly, I don’t want to hang out there anymore.

How many times in your own life have you stopped yourself from pursuing one of your dreams? Did you tell yourself it was because you didn’t have the money, connections or experience to have those things you’ve envisioned?  The more excuses we come up with, the longer the list becomes on why it’s not possible to fulfill our dreams, so we abandon them and opt to zone out watching Netflix instead.  The fear of flying has a tight grip around our neck, so we never attempt to find out what we are actually capable of.

The struggle to overcome fear, or rather learning how to act despite the presence of fear, is very real and sometimes difficult to recognize. For example, sometimes my fear shows up as common sense and under the guise of being “responsible” by making statements such as the following:  Think about how hard you have worked to get where you are now; are you sure you want to throw all of that away to take a chance on an unknown? What if you lose everything?  You are an adult now, so it’s best to stick with the path that has been working rather than taking a risk on something new. Is it just me who noticed how convincing the last statement appears by pleading with me to do the “mature” thing?  I realize now I have been caught up in keeping up appearances of being a responsible adult at the expense of venturing out to pursue another one of my dreams.

How many times have you stayed in situations you have outgrown because you tell yourself it’s better to stick with the tried and true and remain safe?  But isn’t that the real illusion? We lie to ourselves about being safe where we are instead of realizing we are trading expansion and happiness for misery, bitterness, and regret over the road not traveled as the years go by. We are here to expand in order to reach our full potential, but that cannot happen if we are not willing to take a chance on ourselves over and over again

 

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FACING THE UNKNOWN

The first step to move through the fear is the awareness to call it by its true name: False Evidence Appearing Real. It is not a “sign” that you should not move towards your dreams or other desires (as long as it’s good for you and doesn’t harm others in the process) because you have doubts. Everyone has doubts and anytime time you think about trying something new, fear will make an appearance.  The trick is to not allow yourself to get so overwhelmed with visions of disaster that you don’t act at all. Instead, focus on the next step you can take right now.  That is how you start to train yourself to move through the fear rather than become paralyzed by it.

Another thing I find very helpful is to learn how to give yourself permission to be a beginner. This can be tough, especially if you find yourself in a situation where you have years of experience and therefore a sense of mastery. Being a beginner requires a willingness to be exposed and out of your element. There is a learning curve, so treat yourself with respect by accepting you may do something very badly in the beginning. Another way to respect yourself is to take baby steps towards your desires and praise yourself for the small accomplishments. The encouragement works wonders and gives you the motivation to take another step tomorrow. Do not overwhelm yourself by focusing on perfection! Remember, you are a beginner so act like it!

Finally, become aware of how your fears cause you to act in self-destructive ways so you can control your environment.  What are your go-to avoidance patterns? Do you suddenly “need” to get on social media and waste three hours instead of applying for that new dream job that excites you?  How about blocking your social media accounts at set times and focusing on taking a  step towards your desires?  If you suddenly find yourself feeling compelled to do the “responsible” thing like clean your house or call your mother back, why not head over to the library to start writing your book for just one hour right now? You can clean up when you get back and don’t bring your phone with you!

I would love to hear some other suggestions from you on how to move through the fears of flying.

Empower

A Simply Abundant Life

I have spent the last few years of my life eliminating unnecessary spending on activities, things, and people who do not contribute to my life in a meaningful way. I started down this path in order to live a life that was more intentional, fulfilling, harmonious and abundant. Traveling on this inner road to happiness, I discovered an awesome book by Sara Ban Breathnach titled Simple Abundance (I highly recommend it!), and lately I have been listening to podcasts that promote minimalism as a lifestyle.

Now wait a minute, I know what you are thinking: why would anyone in his or her right mind be interested in deprivation? And furthermore, isn’t simplicity the opposite of leading an abundant and successful life? Believe me, in my former incarnation I was all about having and doing everything to excess, because I thought that this meant I had arrived at success’s door. I had a closet full of clothes, many with the tags still on them, and yet I still couldn’t seem to find anything to wear. I had tons of purses, shoes, jewelry and other “stuff” which usually just sat around collecting dust. Unfortunately, the balances on my credit cards kept increasing as well as my stress level.

Looking back, I was overwhelmed and the literal manifestation of my overwhelm appeared in many areas of my life, including: closets bursting at the seams with stuff I had long forgot about, overdrawn checking accounts, no savings account, and the mental and physical exhaustion that comes from having to maintain and organize so much stuff.  I wasn’t successful; I had made the mistake of seeking happiness from accumulating more things rather than looking within to figure out who I was without all of my “stuff.”

I had been living some marketing campaign’s idea of success. I had no time for relationships with others, let alone myself, no time for reflection, and no time for traveling. These were the things that were actually important to me; yet I complained about not having enough time for these very things. I had failed to see how my constant striving for more of everything was contributing to my own unhappiness.

I had unconsciously tied myself to a grueling, never-ending work schedule because I couldn’t afford to not work. And frankly, at that time in my life, I had never entertained the idea of cutting back on my consumption in order to work less. Sadly, I continued to buy into the myth of owning lots of things to be happy for many years. Then one day it finally hit me: It is up to me to define what success looks like and to start making choices in alignment with my values. This is where the beauty of simplicity and minimalism has assisted me in creating a truly abundant life.

The practice of simplicity and minimalism has given me a sense of freedom I have never experienced before in my life, because I now make conscious decisions based on love and that are in alignment with my values. I spend my resources (time and money) in alignment with my truth. It’s not about being cheap or deprived. In fact, in terms of buying things, it’s all about luxury and abundance because I only buy things I absolutely love and adore. If that means I have to save money in order to purchase the item, then that is what I do. No exceptions.  And the same applies in every other area of my life. Outside of my required commitments, I carefully choose how I will spend my time. If the thought of hanging out with someone or doing something does not excite me or add value to my life, I don’t do it.

Practicing minimalism and simplicity has brought a deep satisfaction because I am no longer motivated to buy things because it’s the latest trend or because its on sale. I no longer open my closet and exclaimed; I don’t have anything to wear!  I am no longer terrified of opening up a credit card bill or worried about my clothes, my house, or my car being acceptable to others because I love it.  It really is just as simple as pausing to ask yourself: Do I love it? Does it add value to my life? If not, act accordingly.