Personal Power is an Emotional Intelligence (EQ) competency youíre probably familiar with by another name. Itís your sense of being able to handle yourself and your life. Itís the opposite of the ďvictimĒ position, where you feel helpless and hopeless. Instead, when youíve developed your Personal Power, you feel confidant to help yourself, and to ask for help when you need it, and you feel positive about outcomes. You are more willing to take action, and to use solution-focused problem-solving, instead of emotion-focused problem-solving.
You may have thought when you read the title of this article, it was referring to your power in the external world and it is, but this comes only when you have the Personal Power within. You create your world by your thoughts and beliefs, and if you feel helpless and hopeless, youíll create these outcomes. When you have a quiet sense of Personal Power, you are able to accomplish more, and will come to say, ďIf I couldnít do it, nobody couldíve.Ē
So how do you develop your Personal Power? You canít function fully until you know yourself, and to know your SELF is to know your FEELINGS. We are our emotions and they are there to guide us.
People in the victim position donít know what they think or feel, and feel they have no rights. Assertiveness is believing in rights Ė yours and others. It means treating others with respect, and yourself as well. The cornerstone of Emotional Intelligence is self-awareness, and you begin this by doing an EQ Checkin often during the day. Ask yourself, ďHow am I feeling, emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually?Ē
Iíve found in teleclasses that most people can talk immediately about how they feel physically, but donít know what ďmentally,Ē ďemotionally,Ē and/or ďspirituallyĒ mean, so Iíll define them so you can get started.
HOW DO YOU FEEL MENTALLY? This refers to your ability to think. Are you alert? Full of ideas? Sluggish? Unable to process? If I asked you to do a math problem, or generate some alternate solutions to a dilemma, how would you do? This is what ďmentalĒ is about Ė your ability to handle information, facts, draw conclusions, formulate a thought, solve a problem, and perform other thought processes.
HOW DO YOU FEEL EMOTIONALLY? Everyone takes a stab at this one, but there are two ways to weasel out. One is to say, ďI feel like a wrung-out dishrag,Ē and the other is to say, ďI think Iím exhausted.Ē In the first case, youíre begging out, and in the second case, notice the word ďthinkĒ was used, which makes it a mental process. Sometimes we lack the vocabulary, and emotional expression is part of Emotional Intelligence. How do you feel EMOTIONALLY? Here are some answers, and they begin with ďI AMĒ Ė sad, angry, frustrated, enraged, discouraged, tired, overwhelmed, elated, optimistic, or resentful. Of course there are many others. One thing you can do to increase your Emotional Intelligence is to learn new words for feelings. Then apply them to your situation.
Itís very common to feel ďangry,Ē when it contains many layers. It could be from frustration, fatigue, being too hot, having had too much caffeine, righteous indignation, and a range from ďannoyedĒ to ďenragedĒ or ďballistic.Ē
HOW DO YOU FEEL SPIRITUALLY? How you answer this depends upon your understanding of a higher power in your life. Some people answer this with ďI donít know.Ē Others will say, ďIím very attuned with nature today. I had a long walk with my dog,Ē while others will say, ďI feel very connected to those around me. Very warm and loved.Ē You could also say, ďClose to GodĒ or ďI feel good about life and myself.Ē
Most of us recognize a deeper level in our lives, be it through religion, spirituality, art, culture, music, poetry or nature. Being able to answer ďHow do you feel spiritually?Ē may take some work on your part, but then so may the others.
Being able to answer these four questions gets you centered on yourself. If youíve been lacking in Personal Power, chances are you may have been exercising too much empathy, or ignoring the feelings of yourself and others, so you are not in touch with your feelings. You often donít know what they are!
Once you know how you feel, and what you want, you have a good chance of getting it! This has nothing to do with manipulation, by the way, nor is it heavy-handed power plays, forcing others to do what we want. Intimidating others with words, threats or body language is bullying. People do this who have an exaggerated opinion of their own rights vs. those of others. Whatís confusing is that these tactics work Ö in the short-term and temporarily. A demanding, intimidating person may be able to get what she wants once, or in limited circumstances or vis a vis other people with no Personal Power, but in the long run, people will avoid, disrespect, or avoid her in the future.
Feeling your Personal Power and behaving in an appropriately assertive manner allows other to respect you. It means stating your position with clarity and confidence. It relieves stress in your life because you cease tolerating behavior thatís offensive or that drains your energy. At the same time, it increases your chances of getting what you want, because first you must ask. You might ask for more intimacy or more money, less work or less noise, or some acknowledgement and some appreciation.
In order to claim your Personal Power, you need to have self-respect. This is something you accomplish; it doesnít just happen. It means learning to truly love and value yourself, albeit a work-in-progress. With Personal Power, you ARE, you donít DO. If you demand respect from someone, you may get it Ė temporarily, reluctantly and with confusion (because the other person senses you donít respect yourself) and therefore they donít know how to give it to you. On the other hand, when you are clear about who you are and how you expect to be treated, it will happen.
Each time you fail to stand up for yourself, and treat yourself poorly, or let others do so, you will lose ground youíve gained. Again, itís a constant process. Eventually it becomes automatic and part of you, but it takes time, and you will backslide. Each time you do, process your feelings. How were you feeling beforehand? How did you feel afterward? Would you be willing to change your behavior so you donít feel bad? (Yes!)
During the learning process you have to be patient with yourself, and also mindful. You have to be able to catch yourself immediately the minute you slip. If you entertain even the thought of ďIím an idiot,Ē erase it. Replace it with something positive. With time, only positive thoughts will enter your self-talk, but only if youíre mindful about what you say to yourself.
Here are some of the ways you can command respect:
·Knowing your values and having standards, and behaving in accord with them
·How you treat yourself. If youíre willing to abuse yourself, others will join right in.
·Keeping good boundaries. Become committed to living your life with joy, assertiveness and productivity, and refuse to engage with people (even when family!) that canít support this approach.
·Watch your posture, eye contact, walk, and how you hold your head and shoulders.
·Make your SELF known Ė have opinions, state them, take part in conversations, be present and fully engaged.
·Acknowledge compliments graciously. Say ďthank you,Ē instead of, ďOh, it really wasnít much.Ē
·Stop cross-thinking, i.e., did I say or do the right thing? Learn to develop your intuition (an EQ competency), and to go with it and trust it. With practice, youíll act naturally and spontaneously, and stop questioning yourself at every turn. Others will respond to this.
·Eliminate complaining and worrying. They accomplish nothing except to drag you down, and make others think less of you.
·Use solution-focused problem-solving, not emotion-focused problem-solving.
How to get started? Commit to a structured learning program. Take The EQ Foundation Course©. Itís available on the Internet and will give you the theory. Then work with a certified EQ Coach. You need time, practice and feedback to change social and emotional skills. You cannot JUST read about it. Then take action. Put into practice what youíre learning. With time, you can make great changes!
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