How many times have you wanted to reach out to someone, but you were afraid to seem needy? Or perhaps you were worried about what another person might think of you, or even that they might not respond to you?

When we avoid making a connection because we are afraid of someone else’s reaction, or when we censor our thoughts and feelings, we are giving away our personal power.

How do we give away our power?

Giving away our power can take many forms. Here are a few examples.

  • We give away our personal power when we hold beliefs that originate from what other people taught us and which might not be based in current reality. Beliefs that give away our power might sound like, “I’m not loveable”, “I can’t trust people”, or “When a relationship ends, I won’t be able to handle it well or easily.”
  • We hand over our power when we determine whether our needs are “reasonable” or “acceptable” based on how we think other people will respond to us.
  • We give away our power when we have something important that we want to tell someone, or when we want to express our feelings, but we feel that it’s too risky to make ourselves “heard”.
  • We lose our power when we believe well-meaning friends who tell us that we won’t be able to “handle” a negative outcome.

What are some opportunities to take back our power?

Just as there are many ways that we can give away our power, there are countless opportunities every day to take it back.

  • We take back our power when we take the initiative and connect with someone by being the first to reach out. We empower ourselves when we give ourselves permission to make the initial contact.
  • It is more empowering to express a statement rather than ask a question. For example, “See you tonight!” is more empowering than “Are we still on for tonight?” It might seem insignificant, but the simple act of making a stronger statement reinforces personal power. And that can ultimately become part of a new way of thinking and operating.
  • There is power in expressing what we want or need (while being mindful of someone else’s boundaries). When we develop our “voice”, we’re taking back our power.
  • We take back our power when we see that we have choices, and that we can weigh the outcome of those choices without being ruled by fears, such as being unable to manage difficult feelings that might arise.
  • Any time we free ourselves from an obsession, whether a love obsession or a compulsion to use a substance in a harmful way, we take power away from the compulsion that grips us.
  • We become empowered when we free ourselves from repeating learned patterns of behavior. We can look at the behaviors of role models to determine if those individuals devalued and gave up their desires because they believed that someone else didn’t want them to fulfill their dreams.

Taking back your power is a good thing.

Paradoxically, you might find that while you were once motivated to give away your power to avoid a particular fear or feeling, when you begin taking back your power, those same fears will begin to lose their hold over you.

Being mindful of your power doesn’t necessarily change the reality of your situation, and it probably won’t modify another person’s actions or beliefs. But as you become more aware of how you give away your power, and as you practice empowering yourself on a regular basis, you will likely feel much better about your relationships — with yourself and with the people around you.