How To Be Powerful

1 Jun 2012
Author: Lindsay Johnson
Read time: 9 min
Category: Archive

It would be boring.

Old fashioned competency, responsibility, and accountability aren’t popular subjects today in our touchy-feely, freedom-giving, “me-generation” society.  People are encouraged to find themselves, connect with themselves, get their wants and needs met, find their passion, and pursue their dreams. I ought to know, as a psychotherapist in private practice, I am one of those touchy-feely people--I help people find themselves for a living.

There is an abundance of healing modalities available today and they are excellent resources for awareness, healing, and maintaining healthy lives.  However, no matter how many mind-body therapies, self-help books, journaling, work outs, workshops, retreats, meditations, conferences, groups, trainings, therapists, healthy meals, and exercises you do – bottom line:  you still have to be competent in your life.

I came to Hippocrates 15 years ago when I was suffering from Epstein-Barr. My dad accompanied me for the three week stay and with his enduring support and the Hippocrates program my health improved. In my time there, I saw my world regain color as if I had gone from Kansas to Oz. I went from a grey and lifeless existence to experiencing the world in Technicolor.

I began working at Hippocrates 12 years ago and I have seen, time and again, that the people who healed themselves and were able to maintain their health literally took an inventory of their entire lives and made changes in every area, not just in their diet and exercise regimen. Although Hippocrates’ core program is based on the foundation of juicing, wheatgrass,  raw food, and exercise, we believe that to be truly healthy and powerful, you have to be fully conscious.  A positive outlook, diet, and exercise alone are not going to help you pay your bills, build a support network, address your fears, or find an exciting and fulfilling job.

Based on personal and professional experience, I know that personal power can be accessed through many wonderful healing practices. However, if you want to establish and maintain your health, balance, and power over time you have to achieve a level of competency in all the major compartments of your life.  You have to be conscious and accountable for your actions. You must be your own authority.  This gives you the brilliant feeling of accomplishment, of being in control of your life, of self-efficacy. This is the foundation that makes you feel powerful from within.

I first learned the concept of “competency” from my dad.  As a kid, he would give us chores to complete.  We made our beds in the morning, took the garbage out, emptied the dishwasher, set the table, and cleaned our rooms. We raked leaves in the fall, shoveled snow in the winter, planted gardens in the spring, and weeded in the summer. His theory was that if we contributed to our household, learned to be a team player, learned discipline, and took responsibility, we would develop character.  He gave us simple tasks to start and complete that would help us learn to be competent and prepare us for the big tasks to come later in life.

He taught us that with every choice we made each day we had an opportunity to accomplish something and take pride in it. He was a wise father in that he realized that confidence and self-worth comes from within. He knew that the way to achieve this was by accomplishing things--doing them to the best of your ability so that you could take pride not just in the completion of the task, but in yourself.

Self esteem comes from your own accomplishments.

Confidence comes from competency.

Competency defines your power.

Let’s use the circle, a universal, archetypal symbol for the self, and look at that circle as if it were your life.  Then let’s divide the circle into the 10 major compartments that compose your life.

The first step to creating your competency inventory is to acknowledge those areas in which you are already competent – this usually involves the areas of your natural ability or the areas you enjoy.  The second step is to look at those areas in which you feel you have deficits.  These are the areas that don’t come as naturally to you, areas you may not enjoy doing, or the areas no one ever helped you develop.  The third step is to write down the goals you need to achieve in those areas to BECOME AWARE, IN CONTROL, AND COMPETENT.

Your final step is to pick an area you want to master and do it.  For instance, you may want to work on learning how to regulate your emotions.  A great way may be to read a book, do some talk therapy, or participate in a group. You could journal your emotions when they come up. Notice what emotions come and what triggers them, where you feel them in your body, and what you do to let them go and calm yourself.

It is difficult for most of us to make changes.  We get overwhelmed quickly when we look at the grand scheme and we end up anxious and stuck.  The easiest way to solve larger situations is to break them into smaller baby steps. Sometimes we can map the steps out in chronological order, but many times we can only think of the very next step, which, when completed, will lead us to the one after that.

I have discovered that if you devote awareness and energy to each compartment and are competent in each area, you ultimately become powerful.  If one, two, or three areas are neglected, a person’s health, balance, and power will be affected.  For example, I see people that are financially responsible. They have a career they enjoy, they eat right and exercise, yet they have no support network so they feel depressed and alone.  Or perhaps, a person has many friends, has hobbies, has a spiritual practice, but “hates” their job and is financially irresponsible –they may find themselves feeling depressed and anxious.

When you take a competency inventory you will quickly begin to see what areas are thriving (the ones you are already putting energy into) and what areas are deficient (the areas you are choosing not to put energy into).  Most people are competent in the areas that they are naturally good at or the areas they like. Most people have to stretch and work a little harder in the areas where there isn’t a natural affinity (areas they don’t like).

For example, feeling-natured people love to do all of the things they feel like doing, leaving little or no time for anything that requires thinking, common sense, or practical planning. This may leave them feeling chronically anxious which can affect their bodies and well-being on a daily basis.  Many feeling-natured people have revealed to me that they would put responsibilities off and magically think they would disappear so they could avoid doing them.

Thinking-natured people may do the things that make them feel in control and avoid areas that are emotional, intimate, messy, or nonsensical.  This often leaves them feeling dull and empty, like they are just “going through the motions”.   When people are able to acknowledge their strengths (the things they are already competent in) and admit to themselves their areas of limitations (the areas they have not yet developed) that is when they really start to expand their power.

Two weeks ago, I was talking to a friend about his healing journey. He has done body work, psychic readings, journaling and meditation. He has spent time in nature, and continues ongoing psychotherapy.  He told me how hard he had worked on identifying, processing, releasing, forgiving, and letting go of old wounds from the past. He candidly asked me what I thought his next healing step might be because he felt he wasn’t getting the movement he desired.

He asked me, “Should I go on a retreat, get a new therapist, get my kayak out more often? Should I do more cardiovascular workouts to get my serotonin level flowing, or take more of the medication I am taking? Should I get different medication? Should I buy a bike and ride it every day, maybe do another psychic reading?”

I think he was waiting for some deep, existential, psychoanalytic remark. I told him, “Get a job, start paying your bills on time, and get one male friend you can do stuff with. That will make you feel better immediately.”

He said, “How will it make me feel better?”

I answered, “It will make you feel better as a man.”

He was shocked. No one had ever suggested these simple things to him.

He had been so immersed in his inner journey that he and everyone else he was choosing to help him were ignoring the key compartments a man needs to be competent and to feel powerful as a man.  He had no real friends and was disconnected by choice from his family. He wasn’t eating well, wasn’t exercising, and had no spiritual roots. He was out of work and being supported by his wife. He had hobbies but wasn’t pursuing them, was in financial trouble, and had no clear life goals for himself.

Vol 27 Issue 4 page 30

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