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Stop Feeling Powerless and Start Powerfully Creating Your Life

On Top of the World

“You are very powerful, provided you know how powerful you are.” ~Yogi Bhajan

Some might say I was a late bloomer. I only discovered how powerful I really was at twenty-nine.

My childhood and teenage years were horrific; I was severely bullied from when I first walked through the school gates to when I left for the last time. In my early formative years I was laughed at, verbally abused, and completely socially isolated.

I was the equivalent of a lepper. No one wanted to be my friend for fear they would “catch” what I had and be bullied themselves. My parents moved me from school to school with the hope that I would be given a fresh start, free from torment.

The bullying continued. Eventually, I stopped telling my parents, as I could see it was visibly upsetting them. I felt utterly powerless to stop the torture for my entire school life.

At twenty-nine I discovered that those childhood scars were actually open wounds. Two years prior I had been engaged to my long-term boyfriend, who was mentally abusive and controlling, but because that was all I knew, I was completely unaware that the relationship—and him—were toxic. Soon after we married his behavior became much worse.

I felt as if there was no escape; after all, marriage was supposed to be forever. I rapidly fell into a deep depression. At my worst point I confided in my parents and they paid for me to go to arguably one of the best facilities in the world.

Suddenly, there I was attending assertiveness and self-esteem classes. I was learning about what my personal rights were and how to protect them. I stopped focusing on what was happening to me and instead focused on what was within my power—what I could personally do about it.

And before I knew it, I changed from being powerless to powerful. Reflecting back, this shift was by no means accidental, there were three universal steps I took that can transport absolutely anyone from a powerless state into a powerful one.

Step 1: Emotional detox: speak up!

My ex had imposed his opinions on me for years prior to my breakdown. Through his abusive behavior he taught me that my thoughts, opinions, beliefs, and feelings just didn’t count. Eventually, this caused my self-esteem to plummet, which led to my depression.

One of the most valuable things I learned while receiving treatment was that my thoughts, opinions, beliefs, and feelings were significant and mattered just as much as anyone else’s! They taught me to speak up in a way that was both respectful and considerate but also communicated my inherent worth.

Have you ever decided to put off a difficult conversation or chosen not to speak up when someone hurt you? If so, speaking up more often will act as an emotional detox and will serve to boost your self-esteem and confidence.

Most importantly of all, speaking up communicates to others you deserve to be treated with consideration and respect, the cornerstone of any healthy relationship.

The next time you are faced with a difficult situation:

  • Acknowledge what the person has said
  • State the facts using neutral language
  • State the impact it has had on you
  • State what you want in future

If words fail you at first, simply plan what you want to say before your next meeting. Once you begin speaking up more often, you will transform from feeling powerless to powerful.

Step 2: Get crystal clear.

One of the first things I did in recovery was to do a life audit. I broke my life down into eight areas and rated each area, one being unfulfilling and ten being amazing, with no room for improvement.

  1. Work
  2. Finances
  3. Time and Productivity
  4. Body and Health
  5. Hobbies and Interests
  6. Relaxation
  7. Family and Friends
  8. Romance

I started to think about what my life would look like if all the areas scored a ten. What sort of job would I have? Would I take more time to relax?

Before conducting my life audit I had forgotten I could change the status quo. I had failed to realize how powerful I really was! For the first time in ages I was actually excited for what my future held.

By getting crystal clear on what you want you will move to being in the driving seat of your life, a very powerful position indeed.

Step 3: Plan ahead.

Once I was crystal clear I began thinking about a plan to get me from where I was to where I wanted to be.

One of my main aims was to write a novel. I knew this was a hefty goal and would require detailed planning, so I began brainstorming how I could become a better creative writer. I bought the best creative writing textbooks and dedicated one hour a day to working through them.

Meanwhile, I signed up for a beginner’s creative writing course and researched more advanced courses for the future. Finally, I decided to take private grammar lessons after which I would begin writing my first draft.

As my example proves when planning ahead it is critical to make your plans SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timescaled).

The more specific your plans are, the more realistic your expectations will be in terms of what is required to achieve success. I also measured my progress every six months and updated my goal accordingly to keep it as SMART as possible.

When planning ahead, it’s vital to design a plan that is achievable, as this will impact your motivation. For example, I found engaging in creative writing for one hour a day totally achievable.

Unsurprisingly, creating realistic plans is key. This doesn’t mean thinking small but rather being honest about the level of hard work, commitment, and time involved and whether that is an investment you are willing to make.

When working out a timescale, look at others who have reached your goal and how long it took them. Your timescale should require you to stay productive and focused in order to reach your interim deadlines. At a core foundational level, this step had the most impact upon how powerful I felt by far.

What are the dreams you desire most that you could start working toward today?

My life looks a lot different these days. The scars from my bullying have finally healed, I’m happily divorced, I have two diplomas behind me, I’ve gotten my driving license, and I’m working through my forty before forty bucket list.

In life we all face challenges (that’s something that will never change), but what has changed for me is that I now face new challenges with confidence.

Since I started speaking up, getting crystal clear, and planning ahead, I know I will approach challenges with dignity by focusing on what’s within my control. I still have my off days, but when they arise I remind myself that no one is perfect and tomorrow is a fresh opportunity to speak up and work toward my goals.

The many years I spent asking “Why me?” taught me that we hugely underestimate how powerful we really are.

In practice shifting from “Why me?” to an empowered position takes consistent effort.

It’s like climbing a tall mountain; there are challenges along the way, but when you reach the peak the rewards are immediate and most of the hard work is behind you.

Having said that, the descent still requires skill. It’s important to choose your steps carefully. By approaching life’s challenges consciously, you can avoid most of the rough terrain and ensure a smoother journey.

Man on top of mountain image via Shutterstock

About Jenny Leigh

After weathering many storms Jenny Leigh began creating the life she longed for. Since redesigning her life she became passionate about helping others do the same and so created her personal development and psychology blog, accessiblepsychology.com. Through her blog, Jenny embarks with you on a journey of personal transformation—covering everything from stress management to achieving lasting change.

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  • Hi Jenny
    Thank you for sharing your story with us–I am so happy to hear you were able to move beyond the traumas of your past and make significant change.

    This post really resonated with me for a few reasons. I run my own personal development blog sharing my various insights received from my own journey to a better life. I made some pretty bold changes and I know if I can do it, other people can do it too. I am a freelance writer who has been traveling the world for over three years now with my fiance.

    It is so true how the past can really bleed into our present without us being fully aware of it.
    I really loved your tips. The one about getting crystal clear really struck me and is one of my top pieces of advice when people ask me about changing their lives.

    It is crucial. A lot of us know pretty well what we don’t want and like and from an energetic perspective, this is a very different thing than knowing what we do. What we focus on expands. Figuring that out is a very powerful first step, and it sets intentions; things get set in motion on a vibrational level, and provided we allow them in, everything we want can come to us in some form.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  • Eric O. Nelson, III

    Jenny,

    This is terrific insight and inspirational.

    Sometimes we bully ourselves and even trap ourselves with negative thoughts or self talk.

    I find myself needing to carefully manage my thoughts, and still fail occasionally.

    I find the plan ahead commentary especially helpful, and it is an opening for my road.

    Thank you.

    Eric Nelson

  • Raj Valeriano Frayna

    This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

  • Iva Ursano

    Fantastic Jenny!! It took me 51 years to regain my power . I am eternally grateful for all the life lessons. It wasn’t easy but it was definitely worth it. I love me and love sharing my stories with anyone who will listen. If we can change just one person with our stories, then we’ve done a good job! 🙂

  • Hi Kelli,

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the article. For so many people, you and I included, it takes tough life experiences to learn valuable lessons which enable us to grow. One of the reasons I think Tiny Buddha is such a great site is that Lori enables us to share our stories so that others can enhance their lives which allow them to by-pass such experiences.

    Like you I am a firm believer in the power of positive thinking and through planning ahead we can set in motion the positive intentions for our lives moving forward. The first step is definitely creating a conscious plan!

    It is so nice to meet a fellow writer too. I have often thought of becoming a freelance writer and would be very keen to hear of any tips and advice you may have for me. If you have the time I would love to hear from you, my email is jennyleigh@accessiblepsychology.com.

    Wishing you a fantastic day on your travels around the world,

    Jenny Leigh

  • Hi Raj,

    I’m so glad you took value from the article. You can read more on my psychology and personal development blog at http://accessiblepsychology.com.

    Wishing you all the very best,

    Jenny Leigh

  • Hi Eric,

    Thank you for your kind words.

    The mind can definitely play tricks on us sometimes and learning to challenge our negative self-talk is an essential skill when creating a life we love. I commend you for managing your thoughts in this way! Do try not to be too hard on yourself though, no one is perfect and sometimes stray thoughts do crop up. The key is to be aware of them, realizing that most thoughts are not facts and may even be completely untrue.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the plan ahead section of my article, this for me has been the biggest breakthrough in powerfully creating my life. Once we thoroughly plan ahead we become empowered to reach our goals. If you would like to read a more in-depth article on creating meaningful goals please read my series on ‘How to turn your dreams into reality’. It was featured on my blog in August (the link to my blog is in my bio above).

    Wishing you all the very best,

    Jenny Leigh

  • Hi Iva,

    I’m so glad to hear you are owning your power!

    I absolutely agree that sharing our stories is a gift. There is something very humbling about being able to positively impact another’s life.

    I firmly believe that one of the biggest blessings of having gone through challenging times is being able to share our story with others, in the hope that it will help them through their life journey. So keep up the good work!

    Have a fabulous day,

    Jenny Leigh

  • Hi Raj,

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the article, to read more of my articles you can visit my blog – the link is above in my bio 🙂

    Take care,

    Jenny Leigh

  • Dan Jones

    This is a great article that I am sure has helped many people… but unfortunately it doesn’t answer the questions of those seeking unrealistic power and how to attain that power within in existence, not reality.

    Reality is only one realm of existence and conceptually speeking it is even only a made up word of the English language… most everyone is trying to be realistic as if it is the ultimate goal and then they go and worship “fantasy” football players and pop stars… and then put their hard earned money into supporting their idols lifestyles… fantasy clearly is the desire they have for their own lives (It would seem to be the case) and reality is just as made up as fantasy.

    The truth is there is an order to this world that is enforced by those who have a powerful sacral chakra and it is at the expense of others labour.

    If you can define justice and fulfilling your own peaceful and grandiously, boundless desires as power than I feel most would be pretty powerless from the least to the greatest… perhaps not… it is afterall only a “feeling” of mine that “most” people don’t get what they want but I don’t actually know that.

    Regardless the fact remains that I feel powerless so I study, study, study to show myself approved… not by humankind… but rather by the very laws of nature. I wish you well. Please wish me luck on my recent and new journey into Bhuddism. Namaste

  • UncleSam13

    Absolutely useless.

  • UncleSam13

    You and me included, not you and I included.