This Is No Way to Go through Life!
In my coaching practice I often ask women where and when they give away their power, and to whom. Too often they confide that they let others define them, whether it is their self-worth, their body image, or whose opinion “counts.” And while they so willingly give their power to others, these women often sabotage themselves by heeding the advice of their own inner critic. This does not make for a powerful, satisfying situation. Where is the true, authentic voice of each of these women? Too often they allow their voice to be limited by others or they freely give away their power. These behaviors often lead to feelings of resentment, lack of fulfillment and a sense of being stuck.
Let’s face it—right now you’re probably spending much of your precious time nurturing others, thinking about others, and being responsible for others. It’s an “other” world, and you’re the main character.
Oh sure, on any given day you don’t mind this role. After all, you play it so well. But then there are those days when your inner fire is burning low, you’ve lost your way, and all it takes is one little thing—a misplaced cell phone, a forgotten appointment, a crabby co-worker—to throw things into a complete tailspin, leaving you frenzied and ready to explode.
It’s those days that are becoming a bit too frequent lately, and you’re starting to think a little harder about what your life means. There’s that vague feeling that something is missing—the unnamed beckoning to feel more deliciousness in your life. You’re tired of the same-old, same-old every day, over and over. Autopilot is so… unfulfilling.
Well, I have something to say to you: This is no way to go through your life!
I can hear the “Yes, buts…” starting to fill the air. Your inner critic’s voice gets louder and louder the more you think about making any changes. It’s the voice that says, “If you do this, you will be
selfish, and on, and on, and on.”
Ah, the voice of your inner critic. oh, yeah, that voice you know so well. For now, find a gentle way to set aside this all-too-familiar companion. We will deal with it later. I promise.
What if your life could be different? What if you could joyously greet each day and feel bursting with energy and joy? What if your life felt more in tune and harmonious? What if you could feel more empowered and less at the mercy of circumstances?
Possibilities – freedom – creativity – adventure – purpose: these gifts are just waiting for you. Your curiosity and longing have brought you here. You’ve already taken the first step!
You know you want a change. right now it may be a tiny fleeting thought. or, you may have an idea of where you want to be. maybe you’ve had a glimpse of what might be different, but “if only” holds you back.
Whatever your starting point, this book is designed to help you on your journey. my job is to pose thought-provoking questions, offer reflective opportunities, and get you into action. Your job is to be willing to explore and to be open and receptive. This means moving beyond the “should’s” in your life, quieting your inner critic and setting aside any presumptions. This is your opportunity to redefine your life, on your terms, by identifying what you really want. This is about putting yourself back into the driver’s seat, setting your course, and navigating from a place of power. This is about identifying your priorities and values, and building the confidence to be proactive rather than reactive. This is about honoring yourself. This is about realizing your dreams. Yes, you really do have the power to make them happen!
Giving Away Your Power
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” —Steve Jobs
From personal experience and working with my coaching clients, I have observed a recurring theme: not recognizing or giving away personal power. This often shows up as a lack of self-confidence, allowing “others” to make all of the decisions, “going along to get along,” getting caught up in other people’s drama, not standing up for personal beliefs, discounting personal skills and abilities, being the “nice girl,” or doing anything not to appear “selfish.”
All of these situations are the direct result of giving away your personal power. Bottom line? This means letting others determine what you think, feel, and believe, and how you behave.
These behaviors crowd out and overwhelm your sense of self, your authenticity, and your true inner voice. In essence you’re choosing to let others run your life!
The key thing to remember: in all of these situations you are making a choice! You are choosing, most often unconsciously, to relinquish your power. Over time you begin to feel resentment. You’ve been taken advantage of and intimidated. You feel unseen and unheard. You begin to live life small. Your voice becomes softer, less noticeable. The real you fades.
So, what’s going on here?
Most often, we let our sense of self-worth be defined by someone other than ourselves. The mass media influences how we feel about our weight, the wrinkles we have, or the strands of grey hair that begin to appear. We’re too short, too tall, too fat, too thin, too busy, not busy enough, too selfish, and on, and on, and on. We let other people—family, friends, the boss, co-workers, and more—be the mirror that reflects how we think and feel about ourselves. We seek approval and validation from outside of ourselves.
Or perhaps, we are fearful of confrontation. Sometimes we value “peace at any price.” We don’t want to cause trouble or disrupt the status quo. We “go along, to get along.” On the surface everything may appear peaceful, but inside we feel depleted, maybe even angry and resentful, because we so willingly sacrifice our internal peace for the sake of keeping everyone happy and everything on an even keel—for others but not ourselves. Or we let others intimidate or overwhelm us, bullying us into submission. Or we have taken to heart someone else’s belief that we must always be the “good girl” who doesn’t shake up things, who readily assumes the cultural mold.
Maybe self-doubt steps in. Thoughts like, “Who am I to think that I really can do this?” Or, “I only have (level of education, experience, fill-in-the-blank), so they won’t want me.” We allow ourselves to reject any change before someone can turn us down. Personal amnesia prevents us from remembering what we are good at, what we really want in our lives, and what we truly believe. We are the ones who keep ourselves from saying yes to living large!
We try to take care of everyone at the cost of taking care of ourselves.
All of these are choices we make. These are habits and behaviors that have become ingrained in our very being. We have chosen to let others define us and how we appear in the world. And all of these choices come with a hefty personal price.
But here’s the thing about choice: there are always options leading to action. Quite literally, to choose means to select after consideration. We can choose to do or believe something, or not. If something is no longer serving us—if we want back our power—we can choose to reclaim it!
Lighting Your Fire
"Do you really want to look back on your life and see how wonderful it could have been had you not been afraid to live it?" —Caroline Myss
I thought for quite some time about a metaphor that fully captures my message. Then it dawned on me that I want to help women recognize that they already have power, although it currently may be just a tiny ember or even a faint glow. Yet once this spark is rediscovered and consciously tended to over time, it can burst into a glorious, primal, blazing fire, something very visible and a force to be reckoned with by all who observe it. It becomes an inner glow and guiding light on the path to self-fulfillment.
You are born with an ember of power. It is a gift, and it does have strings attached: tend it and it grows ever stronger, ignore it or give it away and it diminishes. It is your choice. As with any fire, if you tend it, it will grow into blaze lighting your way as you make your mark on the world, fulfilling your potential and your life’s purpose. Ignore it and it will diminish, becoming just the faintest spark, barely visible to the eye, perhaps only a memory. Your life then becomes ho-hum, and you begin to feel stuck and without much energy. Good news! You can make a conscious choice to reawaken your innate spark by identifying your dreams, and your life purpose, and beginning to believe that you can have your most audacious and wildly fulfilling life. By adding small bits and pieces of tinder—identifying
what you truly want and why it is important to you—you can begin to fuel your spark.
By gently adding extra oxygen, the struggling flame can be coaxed to grow stronger. Your oxygen comes in the form of self-care, affirmations, and your support network giving you the strength to keep going. It is vitally important to keep this steady stream of oxygen feeding the spark. It’s so easy for the flame to falter.
As your fire grows, so do your confidence, your sense of direction, and the “rightness” of your decisions. It suddenly becomes very important to keep this fire burning ever brighter, providing warmth and a sense of well being. So you gather firewood—a renewed sense of purpose, an abundance of possibilities, even larger, previously unthinkable dreams—to sustain your fire. You begin to notice that you are quite enjoying yourself! You recognize that you have the ability to see much farther into the darkness and that the things that go bump in the night don’t appear so fearful.
You have made this happen.
You are the caretaker of your flame.
You have the POWER!
And, then, the “yes buts…” begin to rustle. “You’re only going to be disappointed.” “This is not what you’re supposed to be doing." “Why bother, nothing will really change.”
Your inner critic begins to throw water on your emerging flame. You’ve had the audacity to disturb the comfort zone! So, you fall back on old habits and begin to second-guess yourself. You wonder why you ever considered making your flame grow bigger and brighter. “It was just a foolish daydream, wasn’t it?”
Or the voices of others begin to blow at hurricane strength, trying to get your attention and squelch your fire. “You’re changing things!” “You’re not meeting my expectations!” “Why are you being so selfish?
If you’re not paying attention, the fire may die down or return to a tiny ember! And yet in the back of your mind, you keep hearing, “Yes, and, what about me? When is it time for me?”
Lighting your fire is only half the battle. How you build your fire—the pace with which you add fuel, how you arrange the structures to support its growth, how you deal with obstacles—will directly affect how long your fire will continue burning and the amount of heat and light it will provide.
An ember doesn’t suddenly burst into a roaring fire; so, too, your journey will start slowly, maybe even tentatively. Yet, as you begin to nurture the spark, fanning the flame, gradually adding possibilities and dreams, and rearranging your support structures to reinforce the heat you are building, you will begin to witness your spark slowly and steadily growing. And, as your fire grows ever brighter and stronger, it will cast significantly greater light on your journey’s path, allowing you to walk more confidently while illuminating unimagined possibilities ahead of you. And the world will open its arms to joyously greet the true, authentic, powerful you.