Empower Yourself!

If you’re anything like me, you started the new year with great enthusiasm, but now a little time has passed and (I’m!) you’re getting discouraged. Things aren’t going exactly as we’d hoped and planned, am I right? I definitely need a kick in the pants. It’s past time for me to empower myself to keep on keepin’ on.

Self-empowerment takes patience, but the results make it worthwhile. I plan to begin by reminding myself to practice making conscious choices and taking positive, healthy actions that cover all the bases: mental, emotional and physical. Here are a few ideas that may give you the boost you need:

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-empowerment-image251553781. Listen to your internal dialog and replace the negative with positive self-talk. I’ve read that our internal dialogue blasts on at about 500 to 600 words per minute – and it’s safe to say that NOT all of those words are positive or empowering. Start listening; you may be surprised. Become aware of the times and situations when you commonly engage in negative self-talk. Once you’re mindful of your habits, you can choose to substitute positive, confident, supportive thoughts.

2. Avoid blaming external forces. When you’re stuck in traffic and frustrated, do you spend the down time blaming other drivers or external forces for making you late? You have the ability to choose your reactions, and you can choose to use the time to listen to an audio book or even (gasp!) meditate. Consider three actions or beliefs you could adjust to change your reactions to your most commonly upsetting situations, such as traffic. For example, leave earlier or later to avoid the traffic, or use the time to diagram your action list for the day, listen to an audiobook, or learn a new language via CD.

3. Avoid chastising yourself for not being in control or not doing it all right.  If someone asked for directions to a place you’ve never been, would you ridicule yourself for not knowing the answer? Of course not. You’d do your best to give them options or suggest a place they could get the information they need. Yet, often we guess at direction in our own lives and beat ourselves up for not going the “right” way. You may have to backtrack once in a while. Be patient and realize detours will occasionally come up – and they just might be better than the original route.

4. Do you play victim or martyr? We give away our power when we assume the “poor me” role. It’s a form of self-abuse that probably stems from fear or simply habit. It’s a way to cope. If it’s one thing I’ve learned in my life, I know that the quicker we move out of any reactive, self-protective role – whether it be anger, victim, doormat, martyr – and into solution, the more fulfilling life becomes. And more fun!

5. Recognize the value you gain by staying stuck. What’s your payoff for staying in a negative situation? Here’s an example: You need to let go of a dead-end client (or job, relationship, neighborhood, friendship, even a book plot that just isn’t working) but you’re dragging your feet. What’s your thinking about why you don’t move on? What’s the benefit of not making the decision? Once you recognize what you gain by not moving on, you can develop effective ways to circumvent your dis-empowering internal reasoning.

6. Determine what you want and act on it. Would you hire an employee and put them to work without training? Um, no! More than likely, they wouldn’t accomplish what you wanted. Instructions, a plan or goals, and practice is required. The same is true for any new situation or behavior you aspire to or want to acquire. Do you think, “If only I had this, I could do that?” Stop! Do not sit back and wait for life to happen to you. Avoid the “if only” trap and take the necessary steps to create what you want.

7. Be aware of the way you communicate with others. Pay attention to the way you interact with people. Do you complain and criticize? Remember, like attracts like – do you really want to spend your time with negative people, or even worse, be one? Choose positive people and happy conversations! You’ll feel stronger and more empowered.

8. Notice the gifts and lessons in life, especially in uncomfortable situations. If you’re in the middle of a tough situation, remind yourself of the things you’ve learned or the friends you’ve gained from it. Gifts come in many forms – train yourself to look for them!

9. Act “as if,” and you will become. Have you ever heard the phrase, “act as if?” It really works. Put your chin up and smile, especially when you don’t feel like it. Shift your focus and remember happy times; notice everything you’re grateful for. Dance in the broom closet. Sing in the car. You’ll feel lighter. Or, you can always choose to continue to frown, groan, grumble, or focus on everything bad in the world and everything you think you (and others) did wrong, ensuring that you will continue to feel down, lethargic and negative. It’s your choice.

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my blog and you’ll never miss my weekly posts! It’s easy: Just enter your email address in the upper right corner of this page. Oh, and I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information. That’s a promise!

, , ,

34 Responses to Empower Yourself!

  1. Anne R. Allen May 13, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

    Excellent advice for people in any walk of life. Audiobooks are such a godsend in traffic and for long-distance drives.

    I spent decades surrounded by negative people until I realized all they wanted was an audience for their whining. Any audience would do. I wasn’t a friend, I was a listening device. I also realized I’d never find positive friends if I let the negative ones take up all my time. There was a lonely period for a bit, but better friends did show up. I know I could not have had a writing career if I’d let those “Downer Debbies” dominate my life.

    • Molly Greene May 13, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

      I’m sad to admit it, Anne, but I’ve actually been a “Downer Debbie” to friends in the past. I still catch myself complaining just a bit too much and aspire to kick the whining crutch out of reach forever!! Thanks so much for your comment – change can be so hard, and it’s great to hear about it when others’ decisions to do just that pay off.

  2. Lucy Lit May 13, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    Excellent post, Molly! The negative self-talk and martyr syndrome hit me between the eyes. I’ve been stuck on that treadmill for far too long. I’ve toyed around with kicking it to the curb but have been taking baby steps. Thanks for the bit of ammo needed to push on – without apology. Occasionally a two by four alongside my head is necessary. lol

    • Molly Greene May 13, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

      Lucy, I excel at the “poor me” syndrome … the difference is I now recognize when I’m doing it so it’s somehow not as effective and doesn’t go on quite as long!

  3. Pamela Beason May 13, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    All great advice, Molly! I especially identify with the tip “Be Aware of the Way You Communicate with Others”–so true. I have a friend who consistently laughs at herself and tells stories of every mistake she makes, and then wonders why people believe she’s incompetent.

    And I once went to a writers workshop where we all started by introducing ourselves. I said something along the lines of being a hiker/kayaker/scuba diver while the friend I went with talked about her beloved grandchildren. Then later she got peeved, saying “Why is everyone talking to you like you’re some hot-shot adventurer and talking to me like I’m an old lady?”

    Be sure to introduce yourself in a way you want people to think about you. I have always had a knack for putting my foot in my mouth, so I try to be extra careful about that when I meet strangers.

  4. Larry Crane May 13, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

    Nice post, Molly. Being a walking downer really resonates with me. It seems like I’ve been wrestling with it forever. But, you’re right. When you see it coming, stop it right there, and turn the page to the positive. You have to keep working at it.

    • Molly Greene May 14, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

      Hey, Larry! I think we all struggle with it; I think even perpetually perky people have their down days. I suspect they’re just better at hiding it than the rest of us – so yes, we’ll keep working at it!

  5. Lee-Anne May 13, 2013 at 6:23 pm #

    Another helpful post, thanks Molly. Just bought your eBook – ‘blog it!’ – looks interesting!

    • Molly Greene May 14, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

      Thanks and I’m thrilled you bought Blog It, Lee-Anne! Let me know if you have questions after you give it a read.

  6. Pat May 13, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

    Great advice, Molly. Funny, how right on time this post seemed to be. Even though the first hints of spring have finally arrived, I feel that negative voice rising up out the winter doldrums. “Act as if” has become my new motto.

    • Molly Greene May 14, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

      Pat, “dance in the broom closet” is my new motto – it makes me laugh every time I think of it!

  7. Lambert Nagle May 13, 2013 at 11:24 pm #

    The past eleven months since we indie published have been tough. We were both trad published and our publishers took care of all the marketing. Now we have to do it ourselves I’ve resented how much marketing an indie author needs to do and have been guilty of blaming external forces. But then I tell myself to stop whining and to be grateful as I bet there are millions of people out there stuck in dead end jobs who would do anything to swap places. So instead I am trying to take a different approach and to be grateful to be this privileged to be able to follow my dream.
    Alison – LN

    • Molly Greene May 14, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

      My heart goes out to you because yes, the amount of work we indies have to do is almost overwhelming. I try to look at all of it as “my new job,” and I agree, I’d much rather do this than be a cube-worker. Thanks so much for your read and lovely comment!

  8. Jane May 14, 2013 at 4:06 am #

    How timely! I spent the morning meditating on this very topic. I find it necessary to get very still (and be open) in order to even become aware of the internal dialog.

    I like your list – the points remind me that it all comes down to self awareness and making our own choices. I recognize myself there and can ask why I am just too willing to hand over my own power.

    Thanks for a great post!

    • Molly Greene May 14, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

      Thanks Jane! You’re spot-on; self-awareness is key.

  9. Marie Ann Bailey May 14, 2013 at 5:09 am #

    Excellent advice, Molly. All of your ideas are relevant to my everyday life, but #7 is the one I probably work the hardest on. I try to be very mindful of how I interact with people, even with my closest friends and family. Venting negative feelings can be a good exercise if it’s short and constructive, but not when it goes on and on and on. The positive is always there. You just have to look 🙂

    • Molly Greene May 14, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

      Exactly! A quick vent is cathartic, but when it becomes the routine we simply run in circles and drive everybody mad – including ourselves.

  10. Leo N. Ardo May 14, 2013 at 5:29 am #

    Another thoughtful post. It’s as if you were reading my mind.

    Writing is a lonely biz. We are always asking for feedback. Most of which is advising us to change or improve our stories, writing style, etc.

    It’s time to make positive self talk a habit; And, also keeping the goal in mind.

    Thank you.

    • Molly Greene May 14, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

      Leo, I like this affirmation: “Something fabulous is going to happen today!” And I swear if we look for it and expect it, it will happen :-]

  11. Cindy May 14, 2013 at 6:00 am #

    Molly the frustrated in car example hit a hot spot for me. I used to feel time in car as wasted time. I wanted to instantly be where I was driving to. All those hours driving…what a waste. Then I decided to change my attitude. Now I work on self-awareness every time I get in the car. I notice everything around me and I am in the moment. Driving is now great practice for being in the moment and aware.

    • Molly Greene May 14, 2013 at 12:52 pm #

      I do the same thing, Cindy. I stopped listening to the car radio long ago and try to use every drive as a meditation. I knew we were sisters!

  12. Stephanie May 14, 2013 at 7:19 am #

    Great advice as always my friend. It’s very easy to get stuck in the negative or sucked in by negative forces but as you said, does it help? Years of therapy, meditation practice and plenty of mistakes have taught me to, just keep moving towards the goal. If we keep moving we’ll reach it eventually, even if it isn’t the way we planned. Oh by the way, my plan is usually far different from the reality. Lol I love the concept of acting as if, that’s such a winner. 🙂 Thanks for sharing some positive thoughts for the day… today I am on track, hope you are too.

    • Molly Greene May 14, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

      I’m on track today too, Stepahanie! Probably due to all the wonderful comments from my supportive, happy, positive online friends – like you! And sometimes I think there are no mistakes, only little detours.

  13. jamie beck May 14, 2013 at 7:20 am #

    Nice way to start the day…pep talks always help.

    I definitely fall victim to the self-critic pitfall (no. 1). Suggestion No. 9 reminds me of that Charlie Chaplin song Smile. It is surprising to discover it works a little bit, although I find it works best if I’m among other people. Being alone too much (which is the case with many writers) can offer too much opportunity for the inner demons to come and play.

    In any case, thanks for the pick-me-up!

    • Molly Greene May 14, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

      “Smile though your heart is breaking …” Yes, agreed, we writers spend a lot of time alone and a lot of time in our heads. I find that sometimes just a walk somewhere – anywhere – away from my writing desk can help break the spell of a bad mood. Try it!

  14. Richard Alan May 14, 2013 at 7:03 pm #

    Very good advice. I used to have a horrible commute to work until I started listening to audio books. I no longer minded traffic lights and jams. The longer the commute, the more of the book I could listen to. Fortunately I now work at home, but I still listen to audio books on long trips.

  15. Shelly Chalmers May 15, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    Really awesome post – especially as we head into mid-year and still have time to achieve our yearly goals. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • Molly Greene May 15, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

      My pleasure Shelly. It makes me happy if/when what’s inside my head strikes a chord with others. Thank you so much for the read and comment!

  16. Laura Zera May 15, 2013 at 3:43 pm #

    You make a lot of sense, Molly. 😛 Great post. I don’t have a broom closet, though. I barely have a clothes closet. I’ll just dance out in the open.

    • Molly Greene May 15, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

      I’ll come up there someday and dance with you!

  17. Susan Silver May 22, 2013 at 12:44 pm #

    Molly, this is such a wonderful message. The greatest gift we can give to ourselves is to feel empowered even in the worst of situations. I am in that place right now and finding that my answer is reconnecting with people.

    I am grateful this year that I started reading this blog 🙂 Thank you!

    • Molly Greene May 23, 2013 at 7:26 am #

      Susan, thank you so much for your lovely words!

  18. Kimberly Fuller August 15, 2014 at 5:30 pm #

    Molly, these are all great! Thank you for sharing inspiration and encouragement. It was needed today.
    My favorite is #9. Sometimes when I hear people complain I want to look at them and ask, “How’s that complaining working for you? Is it helping change the situation?”

    • Molly Greene August 16, 2014 at 8:36 am #

      Thanks, Kimberley! We ALL need inspiration and encouragement oncve in a while, so I’m really happy if this post helped in any way. And it’s true about complaining – it just keeps our attention on the problem. And although I have been known to compain bitterly myself, even while I’m doing it I know it’s useless. Arrrgh!