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Not Feeling Empowered? What's Holding You Back?

I noticed lately that many people who have every right to feel very capable, very empowered, do NOT feel empowered.  A young woman with a good job does not feel like she can say what she thinks to a demanding supervisor.  Another person I know is ready to become an entrepreneur, but is afraid to make the leap. A capable guy who is underpaid and plagued by a bad boss, is afraid to apply for other jobs, thinking no one else would want to hire him. There is something inside each of us that is deciding how much we get to reach, how much risk we can take, how much success we can have. Yes, there are outside forces too, but if we heal our insides, we can tackle the world so much more easily.

What gets in the way of feeling empowered? There are many things. Some undermine us just a little. Some slow us down a lot.  Usually its one thing piled on another until its too much.  Lets see if we can unpack some of this. Here are some things that may be holding you back ON THE INSIDE:

1. Childhood. Yes, its true. Events in early life form your view of the world. Not just big Traumas, but little traumas and losses too. The pain in your childhood is getting to you now. Usually this happens subtly. A part of you is on the lookout for risky situations and when one comes up, say speaking up in a meeting, or applying for your dream job, that part fires up and pushes the panic button. Before you know it, your plan has been crossed out. "Stay safe" is written in its place.

2. Losses in your adult life. Divorce, addiction, market collapse, lost elections---many things cause us to lose hope and fall behind on our plans for our lives.  We become afraid to trust ourselves. Or to trust others. My mom used to say I was “mad at the world.” Sometimes I still am. 


3. Social pressure. So many people need and want things from you. You may be running hard to please all of them. Or if not please them, at least keep your own guilt down by doing the basic requirements of your role as parent, adult child, employee, and friend. All these pressures keep you from having time and space to do a good job at any of your many roles. Social pressure can turn into self criticism. 


4. Social norms. Disenfranchisement is real. In this case I’m talking about the type of disenfranchisement that makes it tough to see yourself in the role of leader, entrepreneur, boss, winner, or quality control director in your own life. If you don’t match the gender, racial profile, social class, sexual orientation of historic or traditional leaders, you have another hurdle to jump over. 


The good news is you can overcome this stuff! You can heal. My favorite definition of Empower is “to make someone stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights.”

So, how do we authorize, permit and allow ourselves to speak up and reach for our goals? Everybody needs a customized plan, but here’s a list of the things you might want to include in yours:

1. Send yourself some love. Breathe and think of your most compassionate moment. Give that compassion to YOURSELF.

2. Open up to the possibilities AGAIN.  Take some time to get centered and remember that you are unique, loved, and connected to whatever higher power is out there. Not sure there’s one out there? Well, humans are pretty cool, too. Look what we’ve accomplished so far. You share most your DNA with the smartest of the human race.

3. Jot down what you noticed about yourself when reading the four categories (above) which hold us back. You already know some of the things that need to be healed. This might be the time to call a therapist to get some help in healing.

4. Watch your language. When we are not feeling empowered we tend to complain, whine, and talk about all the negatives in a situation. We gloss over the positives and use problems as evidence that we are not good enough. If you hear yourself doing this, let it be a trigger to look at where you’ve built up scars inside. Put those on your “to heal” list. Then gently rework some of that language to open up the possibility of saying some good things about your situation. Where are you excelling? What did you do better than expected? Who treated you with respect today? Who noticed your work? Who smiled at you?

5. Take some SMALL steps toward your goal. The smaller the forward progress the better, according to one of my favorite bloggers, Leo Babauta. Small steps build confidence. Confidence is what its all about.

Hope these steps get you started again in the direction you want to go.

You can do this!

If you need help with the plan or with the healing, call me for an appointment.

Lisa Yaeger, LPC
(303) 225-9076
[email protected]

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