Life is busy, intense, full-on and flat-out. Stress is a normal part of everyday life, and overwhelm is an almost daily occurrence for so many of us. We have forgotten what it is like to feel relaxed, at ease and confident in our day to day world. So how do you not only survive, but truly thrive?
Naturally you want to be the very best that you can be. You want to live your life with purpose, passion and drive. And what really gets you out of bed in the morning is that you want to make a difference!
And I want all of that for you too. The truth is that to live that kind of life, you need to understand how to handle your stress and stay well and truly out of overwhelm. Because that stuff gets in the way, slows you down, and holds you back.
You can read all about the 7 early warning signs of overwhelm right here: https://www.drmargriet.com/the-7-early-warning-signs-of-overwhelm/
In this article I want to share with you one secret weapon that we all have. The secret to dealing with overwhelm and the stress that goes with it. And that is reclaiming your power!
What do we mean by being powerful?
For most of us ‘being powerful’ has connotations of strength, endurance, control, domination, being topdog, being important, having influence, manipulation, and so on. Some of these might sound appealing, others downright off-putting!!
Your personal power comes from a different place. It is about being true to who YOU really are. It comes from being clear on what is important to you. What really matters, at a deep fundamental level. Knowing what you stand for in life, and being clear on what difference you want to make. It comes from living in line with your deepest values and beliefs. In other words, personal power comes from being your most true self.
This is not always as easy as it sounds!
It takes a certain amount of soul searching before we know who we really are, and what we stand for in life. In my experience this can be a lifetime’s work! And that is fine.
But whilst we are trying to figure all of that good stuff out, it is equally important to understand where you are losing power in your life .
How do we lose our power?
We can lose power in all sorts of ways.
We say yes when we mean no.
Think of a time when a friend asked you to help out with an event for your local community. You already have a packed agenda, a to-do list that puts you smack bang into overwhelm and feeling out of control. Let’s face it, these days you hardly have time to even cook for yourself, the laundry is piling up, and you just don’t know when you will get round to answering those emails. And yet you said yes to your friend.
Because you don’t want to disappoint. You don’t want to seem mean-spirited. You tell yourself that your own need (for some much needed quiet time at home) is a self-indulgent luxury. You shouldn’t put your own needs before those of the greater good. Right? Wrong!
We say yes when we mean no. Or when we need to say no! We do it so often, we think it is ok. But is it really?
We overgive and overdeliver
We have so many roles: being a mum, running a household, doing our job, time with your other half ….the list goes on. But in each area we feel we are not quite cutting it.
We feel guilty being on the phone for work when we are supposed to spending time with our kids. We feel less than when we order takeaway pizza for the family because we ran out of time to cook a meal. We feel like we are not good enough at work because we only work part-time. And we are not making the same progress on the projects or career that our team members are doing.
When we feel ‘we are not enough’ we compensate, by going above and beyond. The feeling of ‘not good enough’ drives us to be more, be amazing, overgive and overdeliver. At the expense of ourselves.
Placing the needs of others before our own
We all do this! And we even do it without thinking. Take this example:
It’s late at night and the phone rings. It’s your friend who ‘just phones for a chat’ but you know it will take at least an hour, because she has yet another crisis. And yet, you go along with it, instead of giving yourself that early night your promised yourself, because you feel so sleep deprived these days.
Have you done this? I know I have!! But whose needs are we putting first? The truth is that if you don’t put yourself first, then who will?
Being out of touch with your own needs and desires
If I was to ask you right now, what do you really and truly want for your life, would you know the answer? So many of us would probably struggle. For most of us life has become a series of responses to what everyone else needs. It’s all about others, the greater good, your family, your community, the world! And that is fine, except when it comes at the price of knowing what we really want for yourself. We need BOTH!
How can we reclaim our power?
The good news is we can absolutely reclaim our power, even when we have lost it for a long time. And it’s not that hard! Understand whats going on is first step.
Here are some ideas to help you get started to reclaiming your power:
1) Put the boundaries back in place
This is all about having boundaries both with yourself and with others, that you truly believe are in your best interests.
Boundaries are the agreements we have. With ourselves and with others. They define what we are ok with, and what we are not. And whether those boundaries are based on our own needs as well as what others need.
The first step is being able to spot where you are overstepping your boundaries. When you give more than you have to give. When you say yes, when you mean no. When you are prioritising the needs of others at your own expense ie when you lose that balance.
Once you can see where you either don’t have boundaries , or break your boundaries, it becomes much easier to put it right.
Here is a useful exercise:
Think of an area in your life that is stressful, difficult or challenging for you at the moment. Have a look at the boundaries that are in place.
What did you actually agree to? What do you feel is working well for you, or what is pulling you down? And are you thriving in that situation? Or maybe you feel put upon, taken advantage of, used or ignored?
These are all ways to understand if the boundaries are in place or not. And this is the first step to getting a grip in the situation.
2) Say what you mean and mean what you say.
This is basically about being in integrity with yourself. Saying yes when you mean yes. And saying no when its no!! It takes a lot of courage and honesty to follow through on this. We don’t like to disappoint others, we don’t like to let people down. And being this honest can be a challenge.
But the price we pay for being out of integrity, and not saying what we truly mean and standby, is huge. Ultimately the person we end up disappointing the most is ourselves.
Some questions to ask yourself:
When did I last say yes when I should have said no?
How did it make me feel?
When we feel powerful, we feel capable, strong, flexible, and connected. When we lose power, we feel small, weak, confused, indecisive. So checking in with how you feel, is another powerful way to get clear on what is going.
3) Put your own needs first.
For most of us this goes right against the grain, It’s not how we were brought up!
Most of learn the opposite, from when we are very young. Putting the needs of others before our own, thinking about the greater good, and even ‘being strong’ ie ignore your needs.
Exercise: Think of a situation where you feel your needs are not being met. Then have a really good honest think about this question:
What are my needs in this situation?
Again, it about getting clear. Understanding what is not ok with you, is a powerful start to working out what you do need and want. Sometimes this is the shift that is needed for you to move into the energy of ‘ having your needs met’.
4) Going for ‘good enough’.
When we lack confidence and we are not sure if we are ‘enough’, we tend to overgive and overdeliver. It’s an exhausting way to live your life. For 2 reasons.
First, all that giving means we spend huge amounts of time and energy on and for others. They get all the good bits, and we start to run on empty and leave nothing for ourselves.
Secondly, feeling not good enough leaves us constantly looking for that reassurance. The affirmation that ‘ yes, you are good enough’. Often that reassurance never comes… so we stay in the loop of giving, feeling not enough, looking for reassurance which doesn’t come, and giving even more….
You can easily see that this is the fast road to feeling depleted, worn out, and hopeless.
At some point we have to give ourselves permission to stop, to tell ourselves that it is enough. It is ok.
Exercise: Ask yourself this:
In what area of my life do I feel I am not enough? Clue: these are usually the areas where you try really really hard, all of the time.
If I did this perfectly, in a way that I knew it was absolutely good enough, what would it look like. Write down your thoughts and ideas as they come up.
Then ask yourself, what does a ‘ good enough’ version of this look like? Again write it down. And then ask yourself:
Which one would help me to feel powerful and capable.
Part of reclaiming our power is by YOU deciding what is good enough. Go on and try it!
Start your new journey
Hopefully you now have some new insights and inspirations to start connecting to your personal power, and start to turn back the tide of overwhelm in your life.
Remember this “You are far more powerful that you think you are” .
So I have a little challenge for you:
I dare you to choose one of the exercises set out above, and boldly take that first step of reclaiming your power in the next 24 hours.
I love to hear from you, so please leave a comment in the box below. It can be anything! From what you got from this article, to how overwhelm plays out in your life, or which exercise you chose for your challenge. Or even just to say hello and make contact!
So I look forward to hearing how you are getting on.