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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.

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    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 October 14, 2020

    The Art of Humble Confidence

    The Art of Humble Confidence

    To be confident or not to be confident, that is the question. I’m not sure about you, but I’ve been a bit confused about all this discussion about the subject of confidence. Do you really need to be more confident or should you try to be more humble? I think the answer is both – you just have to know where to use it.

    East VS West – Confidence, It’s a Cultural Thing

    In typical Western countries, the answer to the confidence debate is obvious – more is better. Our heros are rebellious, independent and shoot first, ask questions later. I think this snippet of dialog from The Matrix sums it up best:

    Agent Smith – “We’re willing to wipe the slate clean, give you a fresh start. All that we’re asking in return is your cooperation in bringing a known terrorist to justice.”
    Neo – “Yeah. Well, that sounds like a pretty good deal. But I think I may have a better one. How about, I give you the finger”
    [He does]
    Neo -“ …and you give me my phone call.”

    In Eastern countries, the tone is often considerably different. Elders are supposed to be revered not dismissed. The words ‘guru,’ meaning a teacher, and the philosophy of dharma, loosely translated to mean ‘duty,’ come from here. In Eastern cultures humility and respect are more important than confidence.

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    These perspectives are generalizations, but it shows how the confidence debate goes back deep into our culture. I think that both extremes of pure confidence or pure humility are misguided. Instead of rectifying this situation by simply blending the two: becoming somewhat humble, somewhat confident all the time, I believe the answer is to know when to be confident and when to be humble.

    Humble Confidence – Know When to Use It

    I’m going to make another broad generalization. I believe that virtually every relationship you are going to have is going to fit into one of two major archetypes, either master or student. In peer relationships this master/student role may switch frequently, but it is extremely rare that the relationship never leans to one side.

    In the master role, you are displaying confidence to get what you want. This is public speaker, leader or seducer. Being the master has advantages. You have more control and ability to influence from this role.

    The student role is the opposite. You are intentionally displaying humility. This is the student, disciple or follower. Being the student has advantages too. You can learn a lot more in this role and are more likely to win the trust of the other person.

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    Know When to Shut Up and Learn

    If you are a typical Westerner, you are probably already thinking about which role you prefer. Being the leader is great. You get respect and a higher status. Most of all you get a greater degree of control.

    But the problem is that you can’t and shouldn’t always try to be the leader. Trying to assume that role without the skills, resources or status to back it up will lead to conflict. More importantly, there are many times when you purposely want to display humility. Some of the benefits to the student role include:

    • You learn more.
    • Smooths relationships.
    • Makes others more willing to lend a helping hand.

    Knowing when taking the humble route is to your advantage. It is far easier to get mentors and advisors if you use humility rather than arrogance. A small sacrifice to your ego can open up the potential to learn a lot.

    Confidence to Persuade, Humility to Learn

    In reality almost no relationship is as clearly defined as master/student. Within our connections, people have overlapping areas of expertise. I might be an expert in blogging to a non-blogger, but they might be an expert in finance. In each area there are different roles to take.

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    Before any interaction ask yourself what the purpose is. Are you trying to learn or persuade?

    Persuasion requires confidence. If you are trying to sell, instruct or lead you need to display the confidence to match your message. But learning requires humility. You won’t learn anything if you are constantly arguing with your professors, mentors or employers. Taking a dose of humility and temporarily making yourself a student gives you the opportunity to absorb.

    Persuade Less, Learn More

    Persuasion is great for immediate effect, but learning matters over the long-haul. Instead of washing over all your communication with pure confidence, look for opportunities to learn. Persuading someone to follow you may give you an immediate boost of satisfaction, but it doesn’t last. Learning, however, is an investment for the future.

    Whenever I make a connection with someone and realize they have a skill or understanding I want, I am careful to express humility in that area. That means listening with what they say even if I don’t immediately agree and being patient with their response. This method often drastically cuts down the time I need to spend on trial and error to learn by myself.

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    Confidence/Humility Doesn’t Replace Communication Skills

    This approach of selectively using confidence and humility for different purposes doesn’t replace communication skills. Humility isn’t going to work if the other person thinks you’re an irritating whiner. Confidence won’t work if the entire room thinks you are an arrogant jerk. Knowing how to display these two qualities takes practice.

    The next time you are about to enter into an interaction ask yourself why you are doing it. Are you trying to persuade or learn? Depending on which you can take a completely different tact for far better results.

    Featured photo credit: BBH Singapore via unsplash.com

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