Are you unconsciously giving your power away? Are you giving away a lot your time, energy and effort to someone or something that you are now recognizing comes at a personal cost? How did this happen? Why were you so willing to hand over control to something or someone that didn’t truly serve you? These are questions many women my age are asking themselves. In fact, I just recently started asking myself these questions. During the mid-life years the children are becoming more independent, your career is hitting its prime and you have more money in the bank. Life should come with more freedom. However, you seems to be on-demand to others or other things. Everything and everyone else is pulling the strings. Eventually that moment comes when you are talking on your cellphone, climbing in your car, carrying your purse, laptop bag and coffee, feeling rushed and sweating from running around like a chicken with its head cut off. You dump your coffee all over yourself. You snap, “How did my life get so out of control?!” Ok, maybe that scenario was just me. But what immediately came after my rant was catching my reflection in the rear view mirror. The answer revealed itself. It was me, it was my doing. I not only allowed it, I created it.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love my life and very grateful for all the amazing opportunities I have been given. But something was amiss because I wasn’t fully satisfied. I couldn’t pinpoint what it was, therefore I did what most people do: fill it with distractions and more work. My self-worth is attached to the work I do and the service for others so you can see how easily I can fall into the situation where all my energy goes to working and serving others. As an over-achiever my issue is maintaining a balance and ensuring my needs, wants and desires are also met. I have a few personal projects and goals that always seem to be put off on the sidelines. This seems to be an occurring theme for many women who I socialize with personally and professionally.
I just came from visiting my best friend, who I have been friends with since early high school. Her level of achieving is much higher than mine and because of that she is a successful lawyer with her own law firm. I am very proud of her because I know how hard she worked to get where she is today. However, she is feeling the same as I was: it’s just not good enough. She can rattle off a long list of remarkable accomplishments but discontent still hangs over her. “I wanted to be the best firm in town so I took on anything and everything to prove I can do it. I catapulted myself into my work and wasn’t content unless I was under pressure and had 80 files to work on. I got what I wanted, to be the most popular lawyer in town. Then came the work and so did the sheer panic that I had more business than my staff and I could handle. But I didn’t stop because I had to prove to myself that I can do it.” Some of her staff left because they couldn’t handle the stress, pressure and tight timelines. My friend is now re-evaluating her life, her career and her way of thinking. “I thought everyone lived and felt like this…I have been making changes…what it really comes down to is self-love.” That last sentence was bang on.
There are many reasons we may give away our personal power and most are associated with fear. It could be that we are afraid to be alone, to be criticized by others, to be not good enough or liked. People pleasers are prone to easily giving their power away. The anxiety they feel about agreeing to things they know they will regret later or being in relationships that suck the life out of them. A common way of giving up your power is saying yes to favours that you know are going to come at a great personal cost.
I had made a life-changing decision of letting go which was very difficult for me. I wasn’t afraid of the unknown, I just hated the whole idea of quitting. I also felt selfish which absolutely eats at someone who is a caregiver and advocate by nature. Who am I to think I can live life on my own terms? My friend understanding me wholeheartedly said, “You can’t think of it as defeat. It is knowing when enough is enough.” I nodded. I need to permit myself to take care of myself too without feeling guilt. It may sometimes take a breaking point to awaken us from our distorted thinking. Breaking points can be breakthroughs. I am embracing mine.
The more fears we walk through
The more power we reclaim.
– Robin Sharma