The journey of finding your power, when taken in earnest, changes you from the inside out. It changes all that you say, do, think, and feel about yourself, your relationships, and life’s circumstances. At first blush, the concept may sound a little foreign. But, once you commence the journey to discover your true essence, your power, you can never go back . . . and, you’ll never want to.
Several years ago, a series of events in my life were triggered that lead me on a journey to discover my own power. It began with a difficult pregnancy followed by a difficult birth and a son who suffered from multiple health challenges during his first few days, months, and years of life. Then a knee surgery gone wrong and then, finally, losing my job as part of a corporate layoff from a company I had worked with for almost a decade. In retrospect, I realize that it was a journey I did not even know I was on until almost a year or two into it. (Perhaps this sounds familiar? They always say, “Hindsight is 20/20”.)
Beginning Your Journey
Most of us begin our journeys by looking at and into the “self” (note the lower case “s”) and the experiences that made us who we think we are. Most of us also stumble upon a glimpse of our true power after experiencing some kind of life-changing event. Perhaps the loss of a job or loved one, a life-threatening disease or condition, or simply unhappiness or depression about how we are living our lives and the inability to shake a deep knowing that there is more for us to see, do and share with the world than what we are currently experiencing. This then, is the launching point. It takes heart, courage, trust, and patience to not only begin the journey but to stay the course.
Some Guiding Principles
So, what is your power you ask? It is a good question. But, it is also one that no one can answer for you. This is the kind of question that based on your own personal journey, you should answer for yourself. What I can share with you, however, are some guiding principles that have been helpful to me on my journey of self-discovery and on the journeys of those with whom I work.
Learning to Love Yourself
It all begins and ends with love. Yes, that’s right, love. As elementary as it sounds, it’s that simple… or is it? By love, I don’t mean the kind of “head over heels, I can’t breathe without him/her” love. No, this love is quite different and something most wondrous to behold. It is the ultimate and unconditional love that we contain as an innate part of our being; a gift endowed at the time of our creation: Spirit’s love. (The name is not what matters here. It could easily be God, Allah, Yahweh, Vishnu, Quetzalcoatl, Source or whichever name you feel most comfortable calling the source energy that created all things big and small.) This love resides within each of us waiting to be fully and truly awakened so that we can really know love of Self (note the upper case “S” here). We’ve all heard the saying, “you can’t truly love anyone else unless and until you love yourself.” (The same goes for forgiveness, by the way.) Well, it is this love that lays the foundation for discovering your power and for unleashing your full potential and abundance in all areas of your life.
Laying the Seeds
To help illustrate this point, I will share a brief story that helped me begin to understand the notion of Self-love. Perhaps, at the end of it, you too will discover something about yourself. When I was in high school, I took a health class. At the beginning of one of our classes, our teacher told us to take out a pen and piece of paper. (We did so, but quite begrudgingly as you can imagine because we thought a pop quiz was coming.) To our bewilderment, our teacher asked us to write down the top five people in our lives that we loved the most. He gave us a few minutes and when we were done, he asked two key questions that I’ll never forget. First, he asked how many of us had written our own names on the list. And second, how many of us had written our names first on the list. No one – absolutely no one – in the class had written their own name on the list. The realization left a silence in the room as we all experienced our own “light bulb moments.” It made me realize that we often speak about self-love and self-respect, but we equally as often forget to integrate it fully into who we are. I’ve never forgotten this simple, yet quietly monumental, exercise. It laid the initial seeds for the foundation of the rest of my life.
It Takes Time
One of these initial seeds was the understanding that all relationships take time to flourish and to deepen. Especially the relationship with yourself. So be patient as you learn how to love yourself truly and fully. Despite the pace of this journey, it is well worth doing because it builds a necessarily strong and unshakable foundation to help you grow into the fullness of you. For some, feeling this Self-love and by extension love for others, will seem easier and quicker than for others. Take heart though – it is not a race. And, it is not a contest. Some of us have to begin first by drawing on this love to heal our wounds; wounds that may range from abuse, addiction, abandonment, low self-esteem, anger, jealousy, and more. Pick your poison. For that is truly what it can be to your body and your energy. But, and a very huge “but,” this kind of poison has an antidote. As we love and heal ourselves, we can begin to look at the experiences that we’ve held as toxic or poisonous in our bodies differently. We can see them as having a greater lesson or purpose ‐ even the most painful ones – thereby setting us free from their grip and the repeated dysfunctional thought and behavioral patterns that came along with them. We can appreciate the lessons that have brought us to where we are today and that will shape us into the person we choose to be tomorrow.
The Gift of Forgiveness
The gift of forgiveness is the next step on the road to loving yourself. Begin by forgiving yourself for EVERYTHING. Everything that seems to replay itself in your mind or body that tells you that you’re not good enough, not smart enough, not good looking enough, not worth loving or being committed to. Whatever it is that wounds you over and over again . . . forgive. Forgive yourself and forgive all those involved. Forgiveness does not, of course, mean that you have to like or even love those who hurt you, but it does mean that you will not allow yourself to be held hostage any longer.
You are Not Your Mistakes
Do you think a wolf or a polar bear or a bird troubles itself with past mistakes or missed opportunities? For losing something, breaking something, for hurting a member of the pack or flock? No, they don’t. It’s a valuable lesson we can learn from our animal friends. You are not your mistake. But, it is important to learn from them and then move on. By approaching life lessons in the spirit of forgiveness, you can’t help but find freedom, healing, and most of all, love. So give it as a gift to yourself . . . every day. And, with time, you will discover that you have become a gift to others.
Next, give yourself permission to set boundaries that are healthy for you and that serve your highest good. This does not translate into being selfish. (I know what those of you who always put others first are thinking.) In fact, it’s the opposite. Boundaries allow us to respect and honor ourselves and others and vice versa. They free us of feelings of resentment, anger, and frustration, for example, because they help us define with clarity how we will treat and honor ourselves. Imagine being free of anger and frustration. How much lighter would you feel? How much happier? How much freer? The answer is: the sky’s the limit.
One of the many benefits we receive in return for setting healthy boundaries is that we adjust our perception of, and response to, others and their actions. We can do this because we learn to have a healthier understanding that our boundaries and the terms of our relationships, while not experienced in a vacuum, are our own to define. Without these boundaries, we unwittingly set the wheels in motion for self-sabotage and the creation of ongoing and unnecessary distractions that prevent us from reaching our highest potential.
Boundaries don’t limit us, they set us free.
Get To Know Yourself
An infamous mantra reflects, “To love yourself is to know yourself.” So, get to know yourself. Begin spending a few moments every day with yourself (morning and evening are ideal). Appreciate yourself and all the wonderful things about you – ALL of you. Peel back the layers and be thankful for the greatness that is you.
Relax and Connect
There is no one right way to do this. There are many and the fun is in discovering the method(s) that work best for you. A popular way to become more in tune with yourself and your surroundings is meditation. Before you begin conjuring up images of sitting in a lotus position for hours on end, let me interrupt for just a moment. Walking in nature is a perfectly good form of meditation. So is listening to music, painting or even drawing. You may also find that your meditation takes the form of playing an instrument or dancing. Rest assured that relaxation and connection with nature in all its forms has loving and healing benefits beyond measure. Find what brings you peace and joy and do that . . . shamelessly often.
These gifts that flow from Self-love are life-changing. By practicing a form of meditation and connection to nature each day, you activate and strengthen your ability to become more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. As you become more aware, you can monitor and adjust your responses and the beliefs that you hold related to them so that you can live in authentic alignment with your true Self. Because of this, these gifts are an indulgence we can scarcely afford not to give ourselves.
Aligning Your Thoughts & Emotions
Can you imagine a world where your thoughts actually come true? To get a comical glimpse of what this would be like, we only need to look to Hollywood. Movies such as “Bedtime Stories” starring Adam Sandler and others depict the pitfalls, follies, and ultimately, joys, of thought manifestation. Still others with a more serious and pedagogical leaning, such as Rhonda Byrne’s, The Secret, or Abraham‐Hicks’, The Law of Attraction, show us that we don’t have to pretend that this could happen. No imagination is needed because we already know that our thoughts create the very lives we live and the experiences we have.
Everything is Energy
To understand this concept, we must first understand that everything ‐ absolutely everything ‐ is made up of energy. Our thoughts, intentions, emotions ‐ even our bodies, which are energy in a denser form ‐ are all made up of energy.
The Power to Create
This means that each and every one of us not only has the power to create what we experience in our own lives, but our collective thoughts also contribute to a larger body of consciousness that persists around us. We are creators and co‐creators of this world-shaping the collective experience of humanity. The power of our thoughts and the emotion that accompanies them is what gives them the power to manifest. That is why it is so important to monitor and align our thoughts and emotions with love and to trust that asking for what serves the highest good, will also serve us well and fruitfully as individuals.
The universal law of energy (also known as the “law of attraction”) is one of the indelible threads that connect this intricate web together. It responds to our thoughts and emotions – good, bad, and indifferent. So, manifest with love. Manifest with integrity. Then trust and be patient as you wait for everything to reveal itself to you at a time and in a way that is right for you.
Speaking Your Truth – Releasing Your Fears
Once you begin to practice love, forgiveness, and alignment, you can more easily start speaking your truth. And, it is by speaking your truth that you ignite and fortify your power . . . at last. Your power.
To speak your truth is to find your power. By this point, you may have had inklings about what your power is, but may not yet fully trust in it or believe in it. Or, you may continue to cling to old fear‐based notions of how you think you’re supposed to act, who you’re supposed to be, and what you are supposed to say.
Ah, yes. Fear. We give it so much power. We give it our power . . . undeservedly so. The reason is that fear is like a shapeshifter. It does not always appear the way we think it will. Sometimes it’s obvious that it’s fear. But, other times, it comes masquerading as anger, worry, jealousy, low self‐esteem, arrogance, manipulation, victim mentality, and even self‐righteousness. The first trick, however, is remembering that, at its core, it’s all fear. The second is knowing that it’s also a choice: do you wish to be manipulated or controlled by it or do you wish to live free of it and experience an authentic life? Like love, the choice is simple. But also like love, if you choose to be free and authentic, it takes time, patience, and trust.
Releasing Your Fears
To release your fears, it is best to learn from them and, ultimately, to transform and transmute them into something more positive. To do otherwise only postpones the inevitable. Because, at some point, it will all boomerang back to us. And, having been unresolved the first (or second or third) time, it returns in a stronger and more direct fear‐filled scenario demanding our attention once again. Releasing your fears can be done in several ways ‐ by taking small baby steps (e.g., saying “no”, speaking up in a work meeting, or expressing an opinion to someone you find intimidating) or by taking a quantum leap (e.g., leaving your career to follow a path you’ve always desired). The point is you get to choose. Whatever your choice, you have the opportunity to set the scene and play the starring role in the cinematic production called “your life.”
It’s Your Journey. Walk or Fly . . . Don’t Run
Remember, your life is a wonderful journey, not a destination. Each experience – whether we define it as “good” or “bad” – is an important lesson along this journey. So walk or fly, don’t run. Enjoy the ride while savoring and accepting your lessons learned. Soar high and shine divinely . . . all the while being present and joyful in each moment so that you can discover who you already are and who you’ve always been. Know that your true power resides within you ‐ always. It is simply waiting for you to open the door and receive it with a welcoming embrace.