One of my central beliefs has always been that each of us has an inner power which enables us to discover our true potential and our best selves, a power that is waiting to be awakened. But it does not always feel easy to access this power — in fact, ‘powerful’ is often far from how we feel in our everyday lives. The way we’re experiencing the world at the moment, in the midst of a global pandemic, is creating feelings of powerlessness for many people. From work and news updates to social gatherings and entertainment, we are living so much of our lives online — and that can make us feel as though we are more passive than ever before. Added to that, we are all receiving a constant feed of information that’s causing fear and worry, and leaving us feeling less in control.
Often it can seem like we are sleepwalking through life, just trying to get from one day to the next, and we don’t know how to map out the journey from where we are now to where we want to be. We don’t fully understand the limitless potential each of us possesses within ourselves at all times, and our ability to create real and lasting change in our lives. In my new book, Awaken Your Power Within, I explore how changing your mindset can help you to unlock this potential.
My life used to be about simply getting through each day. I was just trying to hang in there and keep my head above water, yet I didn’t fully understand why I was feeling this way or how to change it. I was living within the constraints and behaviours of my own self-limiting ways. I was avoiding all the things I dearly wanted to be part of for fear of being rejected. I was terrified that someone would see my inner fears — my anxious mind, my dark thoughts — and would think I was crazy or defective, so I hid them and avoided any situation where they might come to light.
I began to chase external goals or sources to achieve a sense of validation, to prove my worth by becoming someone who was good enough, someone who deserved love. I set higher and higher personal standards and goals that I desperately needed to live up to. My obsession with targets and achievement became a non-stop need to win. But after each win, the feeling of not being enough would reappear and my satisfaction and sense of success would dissolve. It was exhausting.
Back then, I didn’t understand that both my fears and my beliefs could be changed. It wasn’t until I realised that I needed to stop looking to external sources for validation and I started living more consciously that I found the courage to follow my true path.
We humans are masters of adaptation. We quickly begin to adapt our thinking, feeling and behaviour until such time as we start to receive external rewards and affirmation. When we play a role that gets us external affirmation, we feel valued by others, and we will continue to play that role — even if it is at odds with who we feel we are or who we should be. If we fear that our inner, truest self isn’t good enough, if we have had an experience where someone — a parent, a teacher, a friend — has made us feel not good enough, if we begin to see the things that make us different and unique as wrong, we will begin to think that our true self is something to be hidden, something to be buried for fear of further rejection.
We must ask ourselves if we are living a life that is the greatest expression of our true self, or one where we value social affirmation more than self-expression — where being accepted by others is our key motivation, even if this means stifling and suppressing who we really are. Imagine if we could all accept who we are fully without the need for others; if we didn’t need to be right all the time?
People often associate wellness, success and happiness with taking something on or cutting something out, but I also like to focus on letting things go and what a powerful experience it can be. In Awaken Your Power Within, there are many areas where I explore this important idea of learning to let go.
Important questions to ask yourself are: What is the role you tend to play in most relationships? Do you find yourself playing the same role again and again? Are you tired of playing this role? Is there a better role you would prefer to play? Then ask yourself: Who is actually keeping you in this role? Who can and will give you permission to stop playing it?
These are questions I use when helping clients unlock who they truly are, not just to help them identify their constructed self but also to enable them to let this constructed self go.
One area I think we can all identify with right now is fear of change and of the unknown. When faced with the unknown, we can often overestimate the challenge and underestimate ourselves, and become consumed by fear of failure. A suggestion I make in the book is to create internal and external support systems (see panel, overleaf) in order to help you manage these fears and let them go. By learning to let go and to establish new thinking patterns and habits, you will be taking the first major steps to becoming your truest, happiest self.
Unfortunately, sometimes the circumstances you’re in cannot be changed by you. If you turn your focus within, however, you may discover that one of the things holding you back is the beliefs you have about yourself. A building cannot be bigger or stand outside its foundations; in the same way, your life cannot be bigger or happier than the one you believe you deserve and are capable of.
The concept of WIN is very relevant here. In order to win in life, we need to know ‘What’s Important Now’. A key part of this is focusing on things you can control, or can learn to control, such as the way you think about yourself and your abilities, and how you respond in different situations.
The things we can’t control drain our energy and occupy our attention. But if you teach yourself to redirect your attention to those things you can control, and take responsibility for what you give your energy to, you will be awakening the power within. If you’re attentive to the stuff that you can control, then your likelihood of success is far greater. Yet, so many of us spend so much time thinking and talking about stuff that we can’t control.
Do not allow your energy to be sapped or sucked in by things you have no control over. People who are accountable — people who are high performers — tend to put their time and energy into things they can control.
We all possess this incredible ability to choose our response, and yet so many people rarely or never exercise it. So many people feel victim to their job, their boss, their past, etc. You may ask why. There are many reasons, of course, but one of the biggest is that many people are sleepwalking through life, following old habits, beliefs and ways of thinking.
Your brain has the incredible ability to change and create new thinking pathways, but only if you consciously make it do so. Otherwise, your lazy brain is happy to stick with the familiar and the easy. We have to become conscious of our thinking patterns and habits and then, not only do we have to stop thinking in that way, but also start thinking and acting in new ways.
What if you cared a little less about what others thought; you believed you couldn’t fail; you loved yourself enough to really embrace your true self — what would you do more of, what would you do less of and what would you stop doing?
Maybe it’s time to worry less about fitting in because, the truth is, you were born to stand out. The pen that writes the story of your life should be held firmly in your own hand.
Creating an external change support system
- Create a vision board to help you focus on the changes you want instead of what you fear.
- Create a gratitude board to remind yourself of everything you have right now.
- Find a person who has done (or is doing) what you want to do and ask them how they did it.
- Put yourself in the way of opportunity.
Creating an internal change support system
- Refocus your self-talk to ensure that it is kind and loving.
- Use visualisation in order to be inspired by your vision of the future.
- Remember past successes in order to remind yourself that you have done it before and can do it again.
- Examine and change your inner beliefs by establishing new routines.
- Practice becoming present.