"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass... it is about learning to dance in the rain" (unknown)

"Without Darkness, there would be no Light" (unknown)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Owning Your Personal Power

I recently received a private message from a CoDA Member informing me she recently ended a relationship with her abusive boyfriend, and asking me:
How do I get my power back?”
My answer: 
 For everyone the time frame is different, just stay strong and don't give up... you WILL get your power back, but it won't happen overnight. Do lots of positive affirmations and work on yourself empowerment... read books, meditation & visualization, etc... whatever works best for you. It is important that you recognize your power and your worth and accept them... claim them.

I suggested a positive affirmation:  I AM a strong independent woman. I claim my power NOW” and instructed her to say it out loud in front of a mirror for as many times, days, weeks, months it takes for it to sink in and she believes it.  I also told her to get angry; anger is a natural part of the healing process; it’s ok to get angry. For me, getting angry has been essential to getting my power back, so I recommended it for her, because I honestly think it’s a necessary step in healing.

Then I had some advice regarding the restraining order she filed on the ex-boyfriend: “a restraining order works both ways, you cannot have any contact with him either; if you see him somewhere, avoid him like the plague until you feel stronger and know without a doubt that you can face him and not fall for his crap AND for as long as that restraining order is in place… just walk away. Do not get into a confrontation with him; if he pushes the issue, call the police. You have to be strong and stick to your guns. Don’t give in, don’t feel sorry for him, and don’t give him a chance to work on you.

Her question got me to thinking, and I began questioning my response and wondering if I gave her good advice. If you know me, you know I often second guess myself… that’s just me; I haven’t quite got the hang of not second guessing myself, so I end up finding something that will confirm my first reaction LOL If my best friend was reading this, she would say something like “Now, that’s your problem… stop second guessing yourself! Trust YOUR first instinct! 

“Don’t ask ‘Where do I find that power?’ It’s there – you ‘activate’ it by using it. Have some boundaries, learn to say no, exercise your judgment, trust your own gut, pay attention to red flags, walk away even though it hurts because you’re acting in your own best interests, tell yourself you can and will do better, don’t have sex to find out if someone really ‘wants’ you, encourage yourself even when you’re scared sh*tless, tell yourself you will survive, tell yourself you are strong, believe that if and when he calls or comes a knocking on your door you’ll be ready for him, believe that if you do see him, even if you quake inside, you’ll handle it. Tell yourself whatever you need to, but make it positive, and get on with it.

Power doesn’t come from thinking, or talking for that matter. I know of so many people that suffer with Women Who Talk and Think Too Much, they could probably power the world with their mental energy. Thing is, it’s all a bloody waste if all you ever do is sit around thinking and talking about things to the nth degree. Make a decision! Get up! Of course things are not changing when you’re sitting there hoping that a magical thought or that one tone or phrase that you haven’t hit upon yet will get the other person to finally ‘get it’. You need to ‘get it’.

If you’re waiting for all the answers, that comfort moment, that 100% outcome, you’re in for a long wait.

You have to take a leap of faith in relationships. You have to line up what you know based on recognizing who you are, how you feel, whether you are acting with love, care, trust and respect to yourself, whether you’re getting that from someone else, if you have boundaries, values etc and you have to gauge whether there is enough there to proceed. People who are waiting for all the answers, whether it’s because you’re looking for just one more piece of information to prove he’s an *sshole, or one more piece of information to prove you can take him back, or one more piece of information to determine if you should stay, you’ll always find a reason to ask more questions and to look for more answers because you’re removing your own power by not trusting your judgement, assessing the situation and making a decision. I‘d feel pretty bloody powerless if I was waiting around for something that I didn’t even know what the hell it was.
Minimize your perception of the ‘threat’ so you can increase your perception of your power. You can make something as big or as small as you want to. It’s one thing to have genuine concerns but often, when you’re thinking that you have little or no power, you’re exaggerating the threat.
Imagine yourself as having equal power – because you do. What you think and believe will play out in your actions. If you imagine them as being all powerful and ‘bigger’ than you, then you are automatically cast as weaker and smaller. Remember – if you put people on a pedestal, the only place for them to see you is below them. You’ll assign greater importance to them which includes attaching too much weight to things they say and do and creating an unhealthy balance that’s difficult to recover from.

Power comes from acceptance and rejection of behavior. Using Mr. Unavailable and the Fallback Girl as an example, when he does something and she accepts it, a message is conveyed that the behavior is OK (even if it’s not) and he adjusts his behavior to accommodate that new belief. Continued acceptance will continue to feed the idea that the various things he is doing are OK, but remember, she always had the power to reject the behavior, she just didn’t, and she may think that maybe he wouldn’t be around if she had rejected the behavior, but she’ll never know because she didn’t try, and she thought the reward of accepting the behavior would outweigh the damage, when in fact, the acceptance created a knock on effect.

At any point in time, you can change your behavior (and that of others) by learning what you are comfortable accepting and acting on it.

Understand what you have contributed to the relationship so that you can regain your power. To continue to be blind to your contribution and to continue to believe that your contribution is great or that all the issues are the result of someone else, removes your responsibility and accountability. Don’t continue to be caught up in illusions. Be real about who you are and your relationship because the moment you do, is the moment your power returns and you are in the position to do something about it. 

Resistance creates conflict. Acceptance creates power.
 Many of the problems in relationships inadvertently revolve around resistance – resistance in seeing our own part in things, resistance in accepting the reality, resistance in accepting the person, and resistance to doing things that will create a healthier basis for a relationship because of the fear that it will take us out of our uncomfortable comfort zones.

Nobody wants to feel like they are the focal point of someone’s frustrations and disappointments because they feel powerless and will act resistant towards any change, either directly, or passive aggressively.

You feel powerless because they’re not doing what you want – you place too much stock in the misguided belief that being happy and truly loved is about having the power to change someone and have them make you the exception. Which is actually quite solo orientated and forcing your needs upon someone else. Riding someone’s arse like Zorro about their ‘failings’ and your ‘disappointments’ which become intrinsically linked, is exhausting. Whatever you’ve been doing so far in your hopes of getting them to meet your needs and expectations is not working. Rather than trying to pull a Harry Potter and keep recasting your spell in the hope that eventually the same spell that hasn’t worked a gazillion times will suddenly do it, try something different. If you don’t feel that there is any other way but to repeat the same behavior again and again, you’re setting yourself up to fail and be powerless. If you’re going to stay, change your own behavior – don’t stick with the stay and complain route.
Let things be. Try not to have discussions. Focus on your own life – you can be with someone and still get on with doing things that make you happy.
If he is the only thing that makes you happy or a relationship is the only thing that makes you happy, then you remove your own power to find happiness in yourself and from taking part in life.
No offence to men, but the sun doesn’t rise and set on them. They’re not a vocation. They are not the fountain of happiness itself. That’s just too much power to give away to anyone.

Although this article is about being in a relationship, not ending one or finding your inner strength to stay away from an Ex, I love what it says about personal power, and surprise, surprise, not only does it confirm what I said to my anonymous CoDA friend, but it also speaks to ME. Yep, there is a message in Natalie’s article for me. Did you recognize my message while reading the article? It’s in the third paragraph, and says, you’ll always find a reason to ask more questions and to look for more answers because you’re removing your own power by not trusting your judgment, assessing the situation and making a decision.” Of course I already knew this, as I mentioned it in myself re: second guessing myself LOL

So how does one get her personal power back?  CLAIM it! REINFORCE it with positive affirmations, with affirming thoughts, and with actions!  Which is what I told my CoDA friend… so I was correct in my advice (duh, trust YOUR instincts Keltik! Sheesh!)  AND… I love what the author Natalie says about men, which I have highlighted with purple text, sorry guys, no offense, but this addresses one of my biggest issues, so it is another message to myself, as a codependent.

When I am in a relationship, I tend to focus on making my man happy and putting myself last, taking abuse and allowing him to belittle me… I give up my power and let him make me miserable. Notice my wording there? Let me rephrase that… I GAVE UP my power, and I LET him make me miserable. I TOOK the abuse…. And I did; I accepted his abuse, and blamed myself for not being good enough, for falling short, for not being pretty enough, young enough, smart enough, etc… which of course leads to depression and self hatred, and can lead to some really ugly hurtful behaviors, inevitably ending in my broken heart… but no more!

I refuse to do that anymore! I am better than that; I deserve better than that. I am a good person, and I deserve to be happy; I deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. I deserve love, REAL love.  Taking abuse is not real love. When someone really loves you, they treat you with love in all that they do… not with hate, not disrespect, no hurtful mean words and actions. If you are being treated like that… that is NOT love.

I am happily single for this reason; I have really bad judgment when it comes to men, and I get hurt. In order to protect myself from my bad judgment and any future abuse from a man, I have alienated myself with bitterness and weight gain, which is what led me to CoDA to begin with; I want to change my behavior and thinking to a more positive survival mechanisms, leading to my ultimate goal…  healing.

 I am still working on MY POWER. I have come a long way, and although I have taken my power back, I still have further to go. I’m real good at preaching positive affirmations and healing, but I’m not so good at practicing what I preach… yet I find that  through helping other people, I also help myself; it reinforces the positive things in MY life… it helps to keep driving these things home, you know what I mean? I am not just preaching positive affirmations, visualization, positive thinking, empowerment and healing to other people, I am preaching them to myself at the same time, reinforcing them in myself, and one of these days, this stuff is going to come naturally to me and there will be no more second guessing!

Keltik and Reader, believe in YOURSELF! Trust your instincts!

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