I often hear people share how they are stuck in some kind of situation they dislike, whether that be a job, income level, living arrangement, and/or relationship.
When people share with me their stories and feelings, it takes me back to a time in my life, when I was doing work as a research chemist. I felt a deep discontentedness with the present, and there was also some confusion because I didn't have a map to create the life I wanted.
There is almost always a fear component present as well when people are "stuck" in some sort of situation. Fear of change, fear of disappointment (what if I went for my dreams and failed?), or fear of the unknown. It's fear that keeps us where we’re at— miserable. Here's a meditation specifically for working with fear.
Learning How to Create—On Purpose (a slight side tangent)
There is one book I read a few years ago that changed my way of thinking and helped me realize how much power I had to shape my life: Creating on Purpose, by Anodea Judith. It’s about how to make the world a better place and create a life you love. One of the exercises in the book is basically this:
Describe your ideal life. Think really big. What would you do for work? How often would you work? Would you work in large chunks or steadily?
When I answered this question as honestly as I could at the time, I realized that I loved “binge-working” (a technical term I made up meaning to work a whole lot at once, and take long periods of time off). In fact, this is one of the reasons I have never been able to sustain a 9-5 job, because they give you like 5 vacation days off a year when you’re just starting. Once I got clear about what I wanted, I could then start to make decisions that supported the life I wanted to live.
The reason I share this is because you need to realize how much power you have.
I also want you to recognize how many decisions you are making unconsciously because you feel that what you really desire is impossible.
Here's what you need to know: You are freer than you think.
5 Ways People Give Away Their Power
We say "yes" when we really mean "no." I did this for years. I could not say “no” to people to their face. I would end up—writing people emails—saying that I really couldn’t commit (and I think btw writing an email is better than going along with something that wasn't in my heart).
We don’t say anything when someone deeply hurts their feelings. Often times, when people who are close to us hurt our feelings we keep it in, and then resent them later for it. I’m not saying that you need to say something every time, but if you are going to resent the person for it, then it’s bugging you enough and you ought to speak up.
Go along with something we feel is wrong. We’ve all been here at least once or twice, where we know an action doesn’t align, but we do it anyway out of fear, wanting to fit it, wanting to be liked, etc.
We hesitate to ask for ask for what you want. I’m being mindful of this one in my life right now. While the desire to do everything yourself has a certain confidence about it, we're not in this world alone, and our needs, dreams, desires matter.
We stay in a situation that really doesn’t fit with our values and/or core desires. I see this a lot with work and relationships. People know they dislike their job, but they stay in it for one reason or another. Or, they are unhappy with their pay, yet they have never asked for a raise.
The reason it’s important to “tone” your personal power is because the universe almost always gives you only what you decide you’re worthy of. If you decide you’re worthy of $30/hr, then ask for it. If you are worthy of a partner who treats you with love and respect, then your decisions need to reflect that.
Power in Excess
There are some people out there, who are already very good at utilizing their power. Out of balance, being powerful can show up as: trying to control people/things, always needing to have your way, feeling like you’re always “right,” and fighting with the present moment.
The medicine for being overly controlling is to practice allowing life to flow and unfold on it’s own.
There are two basic reasons why people feel stuck in a rut of perpetual unhappiness. The first is that they give their power away. The second is that they are not accepting the moment as it is. I actually find working on both of these simultaneously is a powerful practice for creating a life that feels generally good. It doesn’t mean that everything is peachy all the time (it rarely is), but it does mean that there is a certain fluidity, freedom, and appreciation of what is present— which is basically what I define as happiness.
If you want to practice owning your personal power, practice "undoing" one of the 5 ways for a week. Let me know how it goes in the comments section below!