For the purpose of this article, I’ll use the word energy as a metric for your attention. Whenever you focus on something you give it mental energy. This energy is cumulative. If you’re obsessing over something you’re afraid of, you give it more energy, making it bigger in your mind. Whatever you focus on, expands.
You might say this energy doesn’t really exist. And I agree with you. I made it up. But it’s a useful tool for thinking about certain problems. How can something that doesn’t exist be used as a tool? Ever heard of math? Math doesn’t exist in nature. You can’t point to a number 7 in nature, or a quadratic equation. They even named the square root of -1 the imaginary number. Go figure. But you can use all of it as a tool to solve practical problems.
Now, let’s define your personal power as the ability to create the life you want. You have great personal power if you manage your energy well, but it diminishes greatly when you abuse it.
Common abuses of personal power
Complaining feeds your energy directly into your problems and diminishes your power. I understand you sometimes need to share info about the state of your life with someone, but being whiny and adding negative emotion is optional. Explain the situation in a calm manner and matter-of-fact voice. Then switch to thinking of and talking about solutions. Use your personal power to feed your energy into constructive behavior. Try the 21-day no-complaint experiment.
Self-doubt is taking your power and using it to become weaker. Like a god making himself powerless. It often comes with a lack of certainty. But certainty isn’t something you discover, it’s a feeling you create within yourself. Or, you say fuck certainty, be totally clueless and go for your desires/goals anyway. You’ll learn along the way.
Cowardice feeds energy to your fears instead of your desires. This makes them grow. The bigger they are, the harder it will be to face them. But as soon as you face them, you drain them of their energy because you start focusing your attention on your desires and solving problems. This works on fears like public speaking, starting your own business etc. I wouldn’t try this approach with, for example, snakes.
Arguing is a tricky one. Spirited debate and showing each other your points of view is fine. But trying to invalidate someone’s perspective is usually pointless. I’ll draw from the pool of wisdom that is Steve Pavlina:
“Instead of arguing, think in terms of acceptance and consequences. First, accept the other person’s point of view as valid for them. Then decide what the consequence of that realization will be. Maybe the consequences are negligible. Maybe it means the best solution is for you to each go your separate ways. Or maybe the best outcome is somewhere in between.”
Blaming also uses your power to weaken yourself. You put yourself in a cage and then blame the cage. The cage can be a shitty job or unhealthy relationship. Accept the circumstances you’re in, forgive others (and yourself) and move on. Again, focus your energy on working on solutions.
Sometimes people ask for permission to even want what they want. They check with their parents, spouse or social circle if it’s okay to have a certain desire in the first place. You don’t have to justify yourself to someone just because they question your behavior. You’re essentially taking your personal power and projecting it to someone else. Feed your energy to your desires and decisions instead of others’ objections. If you need someone’s permission, you can have mine.
Erecting false structures
It’s entirely possible to stop abusing your power and still be stupid about it. If you decide that something is necessary before focusing on your desires, you are feeding your energy to a false prerequisite.
A common example is thinking you need to lose weight and getting in shape before you can find a fulfilling relationship. Or deciding you need to amass money before you can do something you truly want. I have fallen for this shit so many times it’s not even funny anymore.
Focus directly on your goals and desires. Nothing needs to happen first.
Reclaim your power and use it wisely
Focusing your power directly on your goals and desires can take some getting used to. Don’t beat yourself up when you misplace your energy. Stop, regroup and focus your attention more consciously. Carve out time in your day for this. Set reminders and spend some time actively thinking about what you want and how to solve problems instead of wallowing in frustration.
Over time, your behavior will start to reflect your thoughts. You’ll naturally take action towards your goals and ditch negative, whiny people from your life. You may find yourself looking back and thinking how something that doesn’t exist changed your life so completely.
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