Tuesday, October 11, 2005


It’s a funny thing about power—most of us, on some level, perceive ourselves as having far more power than we do and at the same time far less power than we truly do.

Here’s what I mean by that. Many of us, without even realizing it, carry into adulthood “magical thinking.” We believe that if we just anticipate every problem, we can keep anything bad from happening. Or we believe nothing bad ever will happen to us and if it does, we’re bewildered. Or we think that if we live our lives the way we are told we should then nothing bad will happen. Or if we just never brag about ourselves, good things will continue to happen and if we do they won’t. Or...

The list is almost endless of the way we may think we have more power than we do. And we cling to these notions because on some (usually unconscious) level, we don’t believe we have the power to create the lives we want to have and be happy. It feels safer and easier to cling to rituals, to live by someone else’s rules, or even, perhaps, to believe that some person (spouse, parent, friend, etc.) can guarantee our safety or happiness.

The thing is we all have far more power than we realize. Not the magical kind—we can’t control what will happen to our lives and neither can anyone else. The power we have is to choose how we will respond to what happens. We have the power to choose the actions we will take.

So how do we claim that power? It begins by realizing it exists. So....

Make a list. Well, okay, several lists. Note: Keep these lists handy and keep adding to them as you think of new things.

1) What are your strengths? What have you been able to accomplish in the past?

2) What do you value about yourself? (If you can’t think of anything, ask people who like you.)

3) What makes you smile? What makes you grin or feel happy? And here I include everything from funny movies to little stuffed animals to clothes to people to poems and books and movies and waterfalls and sunny days and.... Well, you get the idea. Do/wear/eat/read/watch/etc. something from this list at least 3 times a day!

If you know your strengths, you are likely to focus on using them instead of believing someone else must do things for you. If you know all the reasons to value yourself, you are less likely to perceive yourself as not having value and/or as deserving to have things go wrong. And when we do things that make us happy, we are lowering our stress levels and we are, on a daily basis, reminding ourselves that we have the ability to create joy in our lives. If we are going through a crisis, we are making ourselves a vivid promise that it will not always be this way and we ARE still capable of feeling moments of happiness and we are NOT hostage to anyone else—no matter what, WE can create joy in our lives.

So....let go of any unconscious magical thinking you may be clinging to and embrace the very real power YOU have over your life!