Many people find it difficult to stand firmly in their own power. They have got used to deferring to others, soliciting opinions, checking their decisions and they feel they can’t take a step without another’s approval. It isn’t a nice place to be as it is full of self doubt and anxiety. I remember being like this myself in my twenties and I spent my thirties transforming my self belief and self reliance, so if you recognise the symptoms don’t despair, you can change and you can own your power.
First let’s look at why some people have got so conditioned to giving their power away. Perhaps you had a very dominant parent, a father or mother who wouldn’t let you make your own decisions and encouraged dependency? Maybe you have had an overbearing partner or even an abusive one? A boss that takes that job title literally, a friend that takes charge all the time, a religious friend that tells you what is good for you rather than letting you work that out for yourself, a teacher who tells you what you must think?
It is almost certain that somewhere in your life there have been one or more dominant key figures that encouraged you to bow before their superior knowledge and let them tell what is right and what is wrong for you. It is a power game many people enjoy playing and they may even believe that they really do know what is best for you and are ‘saving you from yourself’. Unless you genuinely are too mentally unwell to make decisions for yourself the person who knows what is best for you is YOU.
Have you mixed up the idea of personal power with being power crazed? People are often afraid of power believing it will make them into controlling bullies; instead true personal power allows you to stand strongly in your own space. It means you know yourself, you can make your own decisions and you live by your inner truth and wisdom which cannot be undermined by outside influences. It is a powerful way of being in the world and you’ll find people will seek you out because you have that strong centred energy that can stand alone if need be. When you reclaim your personal power you won’t need to boss others around or take their power from them. Instead your presence in the world will be empowering for others.
If you have had a lifetime of deferring to others this pattern is going to take a while to change, so be patient with yourself. I remember showing half a dozen people a job application I wrote in my twenties and asking all of their opinions. I was using them to validate my abilities and give me confidence from the outside as the self belief wasn’t coming from within. Asking one trusted person to check how my application was reading would have been sensible; asking so many was just insecurity and lack of faith in my own judgement.
There is nothing wrong with seeking advice from a wise and trusted friend, everyone could do with a little outside help from time to time, but always check it out with your own internal sense of right and wrong, your own inner radar. We all have this ability to check in with ourselves, but it might be a little disused and need wakening up. Try meditating on a question. Just sit quietly with it and see what comes.
Perhaps you are worried about what people will think of you when you are in your own power and making your own decisions? Some of the people in your life might get angry with you. They have been used to taking your power for themselves and controlling you, however nicely they dress it up as being ‘in your own interests’. People that do this are not really in their power either, they are shoring their sense of self up by controlling others. That old dynamic has to change and become one of mutual respect for an empowered relationship to flower. Give it some time, these things don’t normally transform overnight, but if there are entrenched attempts to put you ‘back in your place’ or to tell you what to do then you truly have to question whether you want that person to remain in your life.
Perhaps you are worried that you may make a mistake? We all do! It is human nature and it is how we learn. People that enjoy saying, “I told you so,” are not really helping you learn. Good teachers will empower you and let you make your own decisions, not dictate how things must be done and insist you become a mini replica of themselves. Obviously if you were a trainee anaesthetist and you decided to experiment with the anaesthetic, or you woke up one morning and decided it felt like a good day to drive on the other side of the road, you would be acting dangerously and irresponsibly. Fortunately most decisions are not of such a life and death nature and you don’t need to worry about getting them wrong. Take the attitude that every mistake helps you to learn better ways to do things.
When you get to the point where your inner compass is telling you to go one way and someone is pushing you to go another, yet you follow that inner guidance, you can congratulate yourself. You are well on the path to self empowerment!
If you'd like some encouragement try the empowering writings of Wayne Dyer.