How To Reclaim Your Power From Draining People & Situations
You've probably had the experience of being in a really good mood or having a great day until WHAM!...you lose a client without warning, have a friend or significant other stand you up, or get criticism from your boss on a recent project. Regardless of what triggers it, you now find yourself spiraling into negative thinking, and in some cases, you may get so upset that you literally make yourself sick or go to a depressed, dark place.
The truth is, it happens to most of us—maybe even ALL of us. We allow other people or events to make us feel hopeless, sad, or to control our mood and happiness. Basically we "give our power away" to these external events and let them have temporary control over our inner selves.
Don't let anyone—and I mean anyone—take your power.
For me, these feelings came up recently. After 15 years of chronic pain, I was diagnosed with Stage IV (severe) endometriosis. The roller coaster of this process was very difficult, and in the end I decided on surgery. After the procedure, I arrived at my post-operation meeting with my surgeon with anticipation and an open mind about follow-up care and moving forward with my life.
Unfortunately, the surgeon didn't show up to our meeting with the same intentions. He made comments and short remarks that left me feeling misunderstood and not heard. Afterward, I spent 24 hours in total emotional despair. I spiraled into a dark place, and I started to feel unwell. After giving myself some time to grieve (which is healthy, I might add), I realized that I had given too much power to this person. I'd allowed his comments to affect my mood and my health, and it didn't need to be this way.
So I began to take my power back, and I used the following tools to get me there. And while it took me several days to get my emotional, mental, and physical health back on track, the following methods can help prevent this sort of upset in the first place and safeguard your health and energy.
1. Feel your feelings (and then let them go).
It's important to allow yourself to really feel and metabolize any emotions you have. As they say, "What you resist, persists," and I find that to be true especially with feelings. Whatever emotions you deny or push away will grow in size and eventually bust out of you in a potentially dramatic and unexpected way. Process any anger, sadness, or frustration you feel by journaling, exercising, or talking it out with a trusted friend or therapist.
Health Coach Tip: If your feelings are really intense, try high-intensity exercise or a really high-energy yoga class before sitting down to journal or talk with someone.
2. Don't forget to ground and center yourself.
Use yoga, exercise, meditation, or journaling to ground and center yourself. The key here is to connect to the present moment and remind yourself that you are safe and supported by the universe. I like to sit in meditation for a minimum of 10 minutes a day and practice the 4-7-8 breath when I am really feeling out of sorts.
3. Always practice acceptance.
Suffering often comes from resisting "what is" or fighting the present moment. So accept where you are right now in your life and your body. I like to use affirmations for this practice such as "I accept this situation as it is now, and I release all resistance to what is." Put affirmations up around your house to remind you to stay in a place of acceptance.
4. Acknowledge that you have a choice.
It's important to remember that you have a choice in what you create from this moment forward. You have a choice in how you react. In my example with the surgeon, I acknowledged that I have a choice in how I care for my body, regardless of what he thinks or recommends. Recognize that choices always exists.
5. Set boundaries for yourself and others.
Set boundaries in everything you do including who you talk to, what you talk about, and what you listen to. You have to say no to some experiences in order to have the energy to say yes to others. In my example with the surgeon and my endometriosis diagnosis, I realized I needed to set a boundary with the surgeon, and I no longer allowed myself to be in a conversation with him alone.
In addition, I set boundaries around who I would talk to about my disease and the amount of time I would allow myself to be involved with Facebook forums about the illness or online research.
6. Do your homework.
Evaluate your options in regards to how you can move forward. Knowledge is power! It can also be helpful to talk to others who have been in your shoes. So make calls, get online, join a Facebook forum about your topic, talk to a trusted friend or therapist, and brainstorm ideas. Often when you engage the help of others you'll see that more options exist than you realized. And just the act of knowing your available options can have a profoundly positive impact on your state of mind.
7. Make a plan.
Now for the fun part: Take your list of all available options and begin to consider them; circle those that feel the best to you in your heart and your head. Once you've narrowed down your options, empower yourself and make a plan. Create a step-by-step list or guideline for yourself to move forward. I usually start out by creating a list in my journal and then I may type it up and even create a folder in Google Drive where I gather other important information on the topic.
Make it as formal or informal as you'd like, but writing down your plan is key. For my health, my plan involved the books I would read, people I would talk to, supplements to research and try, and dietary changes to implement. Your plan will be personal to you and your situation.
Now it's up to you to put this into action.
Take a situation in your life that has triggered you or upset you recently and decide to get yourself to an empowered place. Go through the above steps and take your power back! Allow yourself to feel your feelings and process them, ground and center yourself, practice acceptance, acknowledge that you have a choice, set boundaries, research options and make a plan. You'll be on your way to moving forward with your life feeling light, free, and empowered in no time.