I was speaking with a friend last night and he was telling me about how much other people affected his life. He didn't care much for these people, but he was still ‘too nice’ to say no to them. When I spoke about the concept of giving your power away to other people, he didn’t quite get it. I picked up a pencil and threw it to him asking him to catch it. Instinctively, he caught it. When I asked why he caught it, he advised that it was because I'd asked him to.
I looked at him and didn’t say a word, then about 20 seconds into the silence he suddenly got it. With a big smile on his face he said, "Ah! So I’m doing things other people want me to do, but not what I want to do?"
In that moment, in that one action, he understood what I had been trying to explain for 15 minutes. It’s an amazing feeling witnessing something like this.
We can do what others want us to do a hell of a lot, and pretty soon we can get drained and it can even cause us physical illness. Think about the things you might do that gives away your power to someone else.
Here are just a few examples to examine:
- Engaging in gossip
- Watching the news
- Saying yes to everything to appease everyone else
- Obsessing about other people's behaviors
- Believing someone else has the power to make you happy
- Trying to be nice to everyone
- Going against what you believe in
- Doubting yourself
- Keeping up with the Jones’s
The first step in reclaiming your power is, as mentioned above, realize when it’s happening. The second step is to get a strategy firmly in your head for saying NO to giving your power away. For example, when a person is trying to get you to gossip about someone, you politely listen but offer nothing in return. Then, as you get some more of your power back, you might stop the person trying to engage you in gossip and say something like, "I don't want to engage in this gossip. This is unproductive."
You can have different strategies for different scenarios. Once you have the strategies in place, rehearse them in your head and get comfortable with what you are going to say or do.
The third step is implementing your strategy in all the areas where you are leaking power. If someone asks you to do something for them, just say ‘No’. You don’t have to offer any excuses for saying no, you don’t have to explain yourself. If the person prompts you further, you can say ‘I just don’t want to.’
This might be very hard at first, but the first time you say ‘No’, you’ll realize how powerful that can feel, and you’ll also realize how much power you have been giving away.
Whose Pencils Are You Catching?