By Hadley McIntyre, MSW, LMSW
It is the easiest thing in the world to allow those around us to take power over our decisions, our actions, and our sense of self. We do it all the time. It may look like letting your friend’s criticism cause you to lose confidence in yourself, or maybe by falling victim to a guilt trip even when you know you have not done anything wrong. It might even be as simple as letting a coworker’s bad mood ruin your day. There are likely a number of people in your lives who take your energy, your time, and your resources without thinking twice about it. Sometimes, when we give up our power it is extremely obvious, other times it is subtle, and we have no idea that it even happened.Power can be construed as a negative word in our society. It is often thought of as using intimidation or force to get what one wants. But the power I am referring to in this article is personal power – the power to make decisions for ourselves simply because it is what is best for us, to feel how we feel without feeling bad about it, and to at times meet our own needs over the needs of others. How can we do this? Here are some tips to get started down the path of regaining your personal power:Setting Healthy BoundariesBoundaries are essential in regaining and keeping one’s power. One of the best pieces of advice I have ever heard is the following – “No is a complete sentence”. We can say “no” to whatever is asked of us if we feel that it is the right answer. It does not matter if the person we are saying “no” to does not like the answer.Recognize that you are not responsible for others’ emotionsThe only emotions we are responsible for are our own. We cannot take responsibility for how others feel, and we cannot feel guilty when our boundaries make others in our lives upset.Speak up when someone hurts youEvery time we remain silent when someone mistreats us, we hand that person our power and permission to do it again.Identify your values and live by those values unapologeticallyValues can be simply defined as the things in your life that are valuable. Everyone’s values will look different. It is our responsibility to clearly define what our values are and to live a life that is in line with them.Stop trying to prove others wrongDo what you do because you love to do it, and because it’s what’s right for you. When we make choices in life or follow a certain path in an attempt to prove others wrong, we give away our power.Recognize that your self-worth is not determined by how others feel about youThis piece of advice may be the hardest for me to follow. It is so easy for all of us to determine our self-worth based on how many likes we get on Instagram or views on our latest TikTok. At its best, our self-worth should come from within. Do your best to not allow the opinions of others to impact your self-worth.STOP carrying resentmentResentment only affects the person carrying it. The person you are resenting probably doesn’t even know it, and if they do, they probably don’t care. Holding onto resentment is like swallowing rat poison with the expectation that it is going to kill the rat.Own your emotionsYour emotions matter. They are essential and should be your top priority. There are no invalid emotions. Own your emotions and don’t be afraid to share them with the world.Only you can make yourself happy. Start the journey to regaining your personal power. The journey won’t be easy, but it will be beyond worth it. My hope for you is that once you have taken ownership of that personal power back, you will utilize it. Use that power to create a life that feeds your soul and brings pure joy. Personal power isn’t meant to control anyone. There is only one goal in reclaiming your personal power – being your authentic self.