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Take Back Your Personal Power (Part 1)

Take Back Your Personal Power (Part 1)

Take Back Your Personal Power

    “But I know What’s Best for You…”

    Do you ever feel like you’re a mere pawn in someone else’s game; a powerless player that is regularly used, abused and manipulated for the gain and self interest of others? Self interest that’s often thinly disguised as some kind of action, decision or “plan” that’s somehow in your best interest? Isn’t it amazing how some people know what’s best for their life and yours? If only you and I had the ability to think and choose for ourselves; things could be so different. Have you ever felt like your life (or part of your life) has been taken hostage by someone else’s ego, insecurity and/or greed?

    Welcome to a very large club.

    Manipulators of the Masses

    Perhaps you feel like you’re trapped in some kind of on-going poker game where you’re never dealt any decent cards. As a result you feel like you have no real power or leverage… just the occasional bluff. The truth is, knowingly or not, many of us have given away our personal power (or part thereof) and allowed situations, circumstances and other people to dictate, direct and control our reality for far too long. Some of us have let others tell us what we can do and what we can’t do. What we should think. What we should believe. Where we can go. Who we should spend time with. Why we’re here. What our future holds and even what our life purpose should be. And because on some level we all want acceptance, approval, connection, security and love (and a whole bunch more), far too often we compromise… and compromise… until we eventually lose the real “us” and become a simulated version of us: looks like you and me – but isn’t.

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    Surrendering of Self

    Clearly this “surrendering of self” – that is dreams, goals, ideas, values, beliefs (not to be confused with the Christian notion of “dying to self”) – ain’t a great personal strategy for my life or yours. So if it’s all the same to you manipulators and self-centred control freaks, the rest of us will find our own life purpose, discover our own limits, explore our own potential and keep our personal power. Thanks anyway. Not.

    “People can only take our personal power if we give it to them.”

    Being a humble, generous and occasionally selfless individual is to be admired and respected but being a person who has essentially handed over the reigns of their life is tragic, sad and ultimately terminal. Someone who has given away their personal power is a person who has given away control, hope and happiness.

    “It’s nice to be nice but it’s stupid to be a doormat”

    Some people confuse feelings with reality. Not “feeling” powerful doesn’t necessarily equate to not “being” powerful. Unless we make it that. For the most part, feelings (read, fear) merely get in the way of our potential, personal power, growth and success. As a rule, our emotions and thoughts are in no way an indicator of our potential or the incredible future we might create and results we might produce if we should choose to use our power rather than give it away — as we have done in the past. Just because you don’t “feel” powerful or consider yourself to be powerful doesn’t mean that you’re not or you can’t be; it simply means you’re denying your potential and buying into a fear mindset. A feeling is only a feeling and a thought is only a thought until you make them a reality; good or bad.

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    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” Marianne Williamson

    Just to clariff: I just re-read what I’ve written so far and I want to make a few things clear:

    1. We give away our power – people can’t take it without our permission;
    2. We allow people and things to have an unhealthy level of control and influence in our life;
    3. Getting angry, bitter and/or resentful at others will fix nothing – although it’s totally understandable;
    4. Positive change starts with awareness, understanding and acknowledgement; and
    5. The situation will change when you change – and you can change any time you like.

    Now, is that me over-simplifying the complicated or you complicating the simple?

    You decide.

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    The Last Bit…

    Even as you read this right now, some of you might be rationalising your less-than-desirable existence and situation (1) to make yourselves feel better (thereby ignoring those buttons I just pushed) and (2) to avoid confronting the things you know you should deal with. My advice? STOP IT! Your world will change — when you do.

    You have the ability, you have the understanding and you have the reasons – now find the courage.

    Next time I will share some ideas to help you shift your reality from power-less to power-ful.

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    Peace.

    More by this author

    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Becoming Self-Taught (The How-To Guide)

    Most of the skills I use to make a living are skills I’ve learned on my own: Web design, desktop publishing, marketing, personal productivity skills, even teaching! And most of what I know about science, politics, computers, art, guitar-playing, world history, writing, and a dozen other topics, I’ve picked up outside of any formal education.

    This is not to toot my own horn at all; if you stop to think about it, much of what you know how to do you’ve picked up on your own. But we rarely think about the process of becoming self-taught. This is too bad, because often, we shy away from things we don’t know how to do without stopping to think about how we might learn it — in many cases, fairly easily.

    The way you approach the world around you dictates to a great degree whether you will find learning something new easy or hard.

    The Keys to Learning Anything Easily

    Learning comes easily to people who have developed:

    Curiosity

    Being curious means you look forward to learning new things and are troubled by gaps in your understanding of the world. New words and ideas are received as challenges and the work of understanding them is embraced.

    People who lack curiosity see learning new things as a chore — or worse, as beyond their capacities.

    Patience

    Depending on the complexity of a topic, learning something new can take a long time. And it’s bound to be frustrating as you grapple with new terminologies, new models, and apparently irrelevant information.

    When you are learning something by yourself, there is nobody to control the flow of information, to make sure you move from basic knowledge to intermediate and finally advanced concepts.

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    Patience with your topic, and more importantly with yourself is crucial — there’s no field of knowledge that someone in the world hasn’t managed to learn, starting from exactly where you are.

    A Feeling for Connectedness

    This is the hardest talent to cultivate, and is where most people flounder when approaching a new topic.

    A new body of knowledge is always easiest to learn if you can figure out the way it connects to what you already know. For years, I struggled with calculus in college until one day, my chemistry professor demonstrated how to do half-life calculations using integrals. From then on, calculus came much easier, because I had made a connection between a concept I understood well (the chemistry of half-lifes) and a field I had always struggled in (higher maths).

    The more you look for and pay attention to the connections between different fields, the more readily your mind will be able to latch onto new concepts.

    How to Self-Taught Effectively

    With a learning attitude in place, working your way into a new topic is simply a matter of research, practice, networking, and scheduling:

    1. Research

    Of course, the most important step in learning something new is actually finding out stuff about it. I tend to go through three distinct phases when I’m teaching myself a new topic:

    Learning the Basics

    Start as all things start today: Google it! Somehow people managed to learn before Google ( I learned HTML when Altavista was the best we got!) but nowadays a well-formed search on Google will get you a wealth of information on any topic in seconds.

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    Surfing Wikipedia articles is a great way to get a basic grounding in a new field, too — and usually the Wikipedia entry for your search term will be on the first page of your Google search.

    What I look for is basic information and then the work of experts — blogs by researchers in a field, forums about a topic, organizational websites, magazines. I subscribe to a bunch of RSS feeds to keep up with new material as it’s posted, I print out articles to read in-depth later, and I look for the names of top authors or top books in the field.

    Hitting the Books

    Once I have a good outline of a field of knowledge, I hit the library. I look up the key names and titles I came across online, and then scan the shelves around those titles for other books that look interesting.

    Then, I go to the children’s section of the library and look up the same call numbers — a good overview for teens is probably going to be clearer, more concise, and more geared towards learning than many adult books.

    Long-Term Reference

    While I’m reading my stack of books from the library, I start keeping my eyes out for books I will want to give a permanent place on my shelves. I check online and brick-and-mortar bookstores, but also search thrift stores, used bookstores, library book sales, garage sales, wherever I happen to find myself in the presence of books.

    My goal is a collection of reference manuals and top books that I will come back to either to answer thorny questions or to refresh my knowledge as I put new skills into practice. And to do this cheaply and quickly.

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    2. Practice

    Putting new knowledges into practice helps us develop better understandings now and remember more later. Although a lot of books offer exercises and self-tests, I prefer to jump right in and build something: a website, an essay, a desk, whatever.

    A great way to put any new body of knowledge into action is to start a blog on it — put it out there for the world to see and comment on.

    Just don’t lock your learning up in your head where nobody ever sees how much you know about something, and you never see how much you still don’t know.

    Check out this guide for useful techniques to help you practice efficiently: The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice

    3. Network

    One of the most powerful sources of knowledge and understanding in my life have been the social networks I have become embedded in over the years — the websites I write on, the LISTSERV I belong to, the people I talk with and present alongside at conferences, my colleagues in the department where I studied and the department where I now teach, and so on.

    These networks are crucial to extending my knowledge in areas I am already involved, and for referring me to contacts in areas where I have no prior experience. Joining an email list, emailing someone working in the field, asking colleagues for recommendations, all are useful ways of getting a foothold in a new field.

    Networking also allows you to test your newly-acquired knowledge against others’ understandings, giving you a chance to grow and further develop.

    Here find out How to Network So You’ll Get Way Ahead in Your Professional Life.

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    4. Schedule

    For anything more complex than a simple overview, it pays to schedule time to commit to learning. Having the books on the shelf, the top websites bookmarked, and a string of contacts does no good if you don’t give yourself time to focus on reading, digesting, and implementing your knowledge.

    Give yourself a deadline, even if there is no externally imposed time limit, and work out a schedule to reach that deadline.

    Final Thoughts

    In a sense, even formal education is a form of self-guided learning — in the end, a teacher can only suggest and encourage a path to learning, at best cutting out some of the work of finding reliable sources to learn from.

    If you’re already working, or have a range of interests beside the purely academic, formal instruction may be too inconvenient or too expensive to undertake. That doesn’t mean you have to set aside the possibility of learning, though; history is full of self-taught successes.

    At its best, even a formal education is meant to prepare you for a life of self-guided learning; with the power of the Internet and the mass media at our disposal, there’s really no reason not to follow your muse wherever it may lead.

    More About Self-Learning

    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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