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Take Back Your Personal Power (Part 2)

Take Back Your Personal Power (Part 2)

Take Back Your Personal Power

    Time to Make Waves

    In part one of this post we discussed the tendency some of us have to allow situations, circumstances, events and even other people to control our lives; in essence, giving away our power in an attempt to be accepted, valued, appreciated and loved. By trying to “fit in and not make waves” (as someone shared with me recently) it seems that some of us have lost our identity and sense of self. The good news is that we can take back control of our life and still be that kind, generous and thoughtful person – who also happens to be strong, confident, assertive, productive, successful and powerful. And no, we don’t need to compromise our beliefs, goals, character or core values to do so. In fact, taking back our power can be the most important step towards living a life of true purpose, alignment (with our core values), integrity and joy.

    While the following strategies are very effective, they are not always comfortable or easy to implement, so it’s a good thing that you and I are all about doing what works – not what’s easy! Not every point will be relevant for every person, so see what resonates for you. Also be warned that I may be a little… er… blunt in places (surprising, I know), so if you’re feeling a bit presh you may wanna read from behind a cushion (like in a scary movie). Enjoy.

    1. Stop looking for easy and start “doing” effective. Today.

    All too often our desire to live a comfortable, painless, easy and safe existence (all things driven by fear) is the very thing that kills our potential, our productivity, our ability to develop and ultimately, our spirit. It is no coincidence that we (the society) have both (1) a widespread aversion to anything that makes us uncomfortable and (2) a high percentage of people who regularly feel frustrated, unfulfilled, lost and miserable. Ironically, it is our aversion to working against resistance that stops us from growing, learning, evolving and adapting. Sometimes (in the moment) we believe it’s simply easier to just “fit in”, to compromise and to bite our tongue. While this is understandable on occasion, over the long term this kind of behaviour and thinking will set us up for unhealthy relationships, stagnation, disconnection, frustration, desperation and misery. In order to take back your power you will need to be courageous (that’s a choice by the way), you will need to be prepared to get uncomfortable (that’s where you learn, grow and adapt) and you will need to do things that may piss other people off – perhaps the ones who previously pulled your strings for their own gain.

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    2. Face your fears.

    You can never take back your power until you confront the things that scare you. By the way, being fearful does not represent weakness but rather humanity.

    “Show me the person who fears nothing and I’ll show you an idiot.”

    *There’s also an argument that the person who fears nothing might also be the person who has reached enlightenment… but that’s a discussion for another day.

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    If things only have the power and influence that we assign them (and they do), then fear is something we can control and use for our own personal development. For the most part fear is a completely personal thing. It’s not about the situation, circumstance or environment but rather US in it; how we react to, process, cope with and interpret the events in our world. That’s why we can see two people doing the exact same thing at the same time (a bungee jump for example); one is excited and having a great time, while the other is terrified and having the worst time ever. That’s because it ain’t about the jump; it’s about the jumper. Keeping in mind that each jumper creates his or her own reality. Of course there are healthy fears – not wanting to swim with a shark for example – but what we’re talking about here are those destructive and unhealthy fears that have been known to make people prisoners of their own mind. For a lifetime.

    3. When nice isn’t. (Nice)

    Seek to be strong not nice. Too many nice people get chewed up and spat out because all they have is a bunch of “nice-ness” and zero personal power. Sometimes nice-ness is actually a euphemism for weakness and far too often our need to be seen as the “nice person” (oh, please) is what brings us undone. Endeavouring to keep everyone in your world happy is an exercise in futility, frustration and exhaustion. And stupidity. In short, it can’t be done. It’s not your job to “make” people happy; it’s your job to be you. And not the “you” that people want you to be, but rather, your authentic self. The one who has clarity, certainty, contentment and calm about who and what they are. And no, being you does not mean being selfish.

    4. Stop being a victim.

    The world isn’t fair. The majority don’t care about you or your issues. S**t happens. Bad things happen to good people. And lots of people are selfish and nasty. There — we’ve cleared that up. Now, stop seeking pity, attention and sympathy and get on with it. Stop having the same pointless discussions about the same issues, stop waiting to be “saved” and stop giving away your power. You don’t need universal approval, acceptance or endorsement, you need a different attitude.

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    5. Win respect through your actions.

    Talk less, do more. What you do will tell the rest of us far more about who you are than any words that might come out of your mouth. Words are cheap and often meaningless. Most big talkers are just that. And nothing more.

    6. Keep re-inventing yourself.

    Being stagnant and inflexible in a dynamic world is a sure-fire way to become redundant, unnecessary and powerless. While your core values, beliefs and standards might remain constant, it is important that you continue to adapt, learn, grow and develop with your ever-changing world.

    7. Value yourself.

    Stop treating others as though they are of greater worth than you. Nobody is more important than anyone else. And nobody is more important than you. Nobody. This is not about having a massive ego or being self-righteous; it’s about stopping all the self-sabotage. You know what I mean. It’s about not rationalising mediocrity and failure any more. It’s about changing your standards and your thinking. It’s about not letting your poor self-esteem get in the way of your potential and your possibilities. It’s about not letting your past become your future. In case you don’t know or you haven’t been told, I will tell you now; you are worthy, you are talented, you are good enough and you are powerful. More than you know. If you don’t believe those words then you don’t value yourself as you should.

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    *By the way, power and humility can go comfortably hand in hand.

    8. Fiercely protect your brand.

    Don’t associate with people, organisations, situations or products that will damage your reputation. In the professional world (where many of us spend a great deal of our lives) your brand is your power. The stronger your brand, the more power you have (in that world). Prospective employers, potential business associates and customers will all “buy what you’re selling” based largely (if not solely) on their perception of you; your product, your service, your ability, your skill, your integrity and your value to them.

    More by this author

    Craig Harper

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

    Do You Make These 10 Common Mistakes Before Weighing Yourself? If your Childhood Sucked – It’s Time to Stop Blaming Your Parents! Exploring Relationships with the Single Weirdo Education Should be More than Academic Basics How to Stop Being an Over-Thinker

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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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