Personal Power: Are You Living Yours?
There’s a quote that pops up on my Pinterest feed from time to time that goes something like this: “Your true self was never something that could be lost. You were always there — that spirit within you before society, your upbringing, and your life experiences told you who you were or who you should be. All you had to do was let yourself back in”.
Let yourself back in.
I know what it’s like to be in my personal power. You do, too. So why is it so hard to just stay there 24/7? That’s part of the human condition though, isn’t it? The difference between what we know we can be — who we know we can be — and what comes out sometimes. It’s kind of funny you have to do the work (and sometimes undo it) to just be your true self.
It’s operating in harmony with yourself, followed by grace (in lieu of guilt or self-doubt) to nudge yourself back into your center if you’re feeling out of your personal power.
It’s tricky and not all at the same time.
I’ve been taking a bit of a break from writing, but mostly I’ve been taking a hiatus from sharing so much of myself and my life on social media. My intention shifted from doing social media as a way of connecting and expressing myself to doing it out of obligation to promote my blog. I started to feel bad about that, especially doing ads on Instagram for things I didn’t really use.
I made peace with taking the break while I got a new website, had a busy summer with the kids, rehearsed and performed in my first improv play, took acting and improv classes, and sorted out my intentions and goals for Polite As Fudge. I gave myself grace when it took longer than expected for the new website (it turned out horribly, btw, which is why I’m back to my old tried and true site!).
Then this week — one of the busiest I’ve ever had, like, ever — I got a text from a friend I hadn’t talked to in months who said she was “worried” about me because she hadn’t heard from me and I hadn’t been posting on Instagram. Um. Honestly, that’s something I would have been triggered by in the past. If I want to check on someone I care about, I call them. Or I text them and give them time to respond without becoming offended or like, freak them out if they don’t write back right away.
I was getting ready to go host a class party for Sterling and we were late getting our family of five out the door, but I took a moment to say hi and that I was just busy and taking an IG break. I also reminded her that she had just texted me. There had been no dropped communication between us.
Before I had sufficient boundaries for myself, the “me” from a couple of years ago would have:
Probably apologized. Then apologized again.
Had to have talked about this with like four different people to make sure I was justified for not liking how she handled it.
Never would have written about it without losing sleep for three nights worrying I might offend the friend who offended me.
But here I am. On the other side of those boundaries, and I didn’t do any of those things that would have actually taken me out of my personal power because it wasn’t what I truly needed or truly meant.
That’s just a little example of something small my brain could have — and used to — make into some larger thing about me and I wanted to share that with you as a reminder to myself and all of us humans out there to operate from that place of the true self.
Back again on Polite As Fudge is my cherished mentor, Dalia Kenig, sharing with us how to live (and stay in) your personal power.
Polite As Fudge: How do you define ‘being in your personal power’.
Dalia Kenig: I define being in personal power as operating from our authentic self with love, integrity, high morals and conviction for the greater good in personal lives, relationships, community and the world at large. What it’s really about is bringing our own way into power in life with passion, charisma, confidence, and positivity.
Positive personal power has nothing to do with physical strength, beauty, intelligence, status or wealth. Negative forms of personal power include using force, coercion or manipulation to gain power over others, using and abusing others for personal gain and narcissism.
Polite As Fudge: Is it something that takes practice? What needs to be in place internally for that feeling to happen?
Dalia Kenig: Recognizing you have a voice is the first thing that needs to happen. You are worthy and what you feel and have to say matters. You have to dig deep down and connect with your true self, and that means your vulnerabilities and personal power. You want to shed the layers of any false self you had to develop to protect yourself and survive, whatever doesn’t serve doesn’t reflect who you truly are at this time.
I meet too many people who downplay their voice out of fear, toning themselves down to fit in and not upset others. Make a choice to stop keeping your head down, keeping your mouth shut, and just being nice.
Let your own true voice be heard; start singing, even if it’s in your own shower. Dance. Play. Do your own thing. Give yourself permission to be who you are, say what you feel, and do what you love instead of doing what is expected of you.
Believe in yourself, hold on to your passions, and dreams. Don’t settle, don’t give up.
Practice getting out of hiding. Do things out of choice — not guilt, fear or obligation. Dress the way you like, stand up for what is important to you. It takes courage and responsibility to be YOU; strive to talk your talk and walk your walk.
We have to overcome personal fears of being criticized, rejected, and intimidated, fears of making mistakes, embracement and fear of success, believe it on not. The great thing is that the more you use your voice, the better you will feel about yourself and the more you will feel your personal power. All this obviously doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a journey of unfolding. Just like a beautiful flower opening up.
You have to realize that you are the one who creates your own experiences. Learn to say “yes” to what you want and “no” when you don’t want. Let go of people or situations that are toxic or bring you down.
Personal power is more than a feeling. It’s a presence that emanates from being your true self. When you have it, it radiates your beauty and uniqueness to the world with your energy, body language, words, and action.
Is it possible to stay in your personal power or do humans naturally ebb and flow?
We can stay in personal power as long as we continue to express and cultivate it. It can start slipping away if we give our power away to others and feel helpless about it. It’s up to us to change our habits and ways that make us feel powerless. For many of us, it is our own negative self-talk that makes us feel powerless. This might have to do with childhood negative experiences that have created fear, shame, passivity, and self-doubt. Whatever it is that separates us from personal power… we have to become aware of it release its grip on our lives and reclaim our personal power and wholeness. In the words of Louise Hey “You have the power to heal your life, and you need to know that. We think so often that we are helpless, but we're not. We always have the power of our minds…claim and consciously use your power.”
Facing hardships like illness, crisis and emotional pain it can throw also us off-center and shake our sense of personal power. Going through life transitions like marriage, divorce, a move, a new career, becoming a parent, loss of a loved one can be overwhelming and turbulent and that can affect our sense of personal power as well. Life is dynamic and change is a constant, so our personal power does ebb and flow. Regardless of the reason, we can always reclaim it.
Polite As Fudge: How can we talk to kids about their personal power?
Dalia Kenig: As parents, we nurture the seeds of personal power in our kids by ensuring they feel loved and secure, valued and appreciated at home.
We help them develop their sense of power by interacting with them with respect, creating healthy boundaries and providing them the freedom to express themselves and explore the world around them.
Letting kids become independent and involved in decision making allows them to recognize their abilities and develop confidence in themselves.
Kids who have a sense of personal power feel comfortable with who they are. They are less likely to succumb to peer pressure, be bullied or behave defensibly.
As kids grow we want to help them develop and learn how to use it in a positive way for the betterment of themselves and others. Kids learn best by experience so they will understand and remember more if you coach them in real-time rather than lecturing them.
Talk with your kids about expressing what they want and need, about speaking up standing up for themselves no matter where they are — home, school or with friends. Let them know it’s their right and responsibility. You can practice it by role-playing and going over what they can do in scenarios they encounter like when other kids are pushy or aggressive when they are hurt or scared, etc.
Boundaries are an important topic to talk with your kids. With young kids setting boundaries and reinforcing them like no hitting, no interrupting, no grabbing of somebody else toys is effective but as kids grow we will need to talk more with them about respecting boundaries for ourselves and those of others. It’s important to talk about body boundaries, what they are specifically and what they should and can do if somebody doesn’t respect their boundaries.
We want to teach our kids the importance of using personal power not just for themselves but also to help others. Your children learn to help others by watching you. So if you do it, it is more likely they will follow your lead. Encourage your kids to get involved in projects that help others, the environment, and the community. Do random acts of kindness, ask the kids how they would like to help you out at home, help a friend in need, etc.
When we think about talking to kids we often focus on what we want to tell them but it’s important to draw them into the conversation and ask what they feel and think about situations that involve lack of empathy, bullying and what is the right thing to do. You can use their favorite TV show or character, movies, and stories as a conversation starter.
Polite As Fudge: In meditation on Headspace, they talk a lot about meditation not being for self, but for the greater good of humanity. This seems like it would be the case for people in their personal power, too - like it’s not just for you, but also benefits those around you. What are your thoughts on that?
Dalia Kenig: We have to realize don’t stand alone in the world. We are all connected to one another; people, living things and the environment. I strongly believe we have to invest our personal powers to better ourselves as well as our community, the greater good of humanity and our planet earth as much as we can. It all comes back to us. When people around us are better, and the world is better, we benefit.
Thank you so much, Dalia! Looking for more wise words from Dalia? Check out this two articles we did together!
I can’t believe it’s been three months since I’ve written! I’m back to writing weekly again, but check out these articles you may have missed so we’re all caught up for next week! XO, Mandy