“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
– Alice Walker
When it comes to power, we often feel that it’s reserved for tall suit-wearing men in boardrooms, badasses who own the TEDx stage, or thought leaders with thousands of followers on social media.
But the truth is, power lies less in the authority one has over others and more so in their personal belief of how powerful they are within. Basically: You don’t have to be in a position of power to feel powerful.
You don’t have to be in a position of power to feel powerful.
“There is a big difference between ‘being’ powerful—which is when you rely on your powerful role or status, like being a boss, parent, or sibling—and ‘feeling’ powerful,” Anna Rowley, Ph.D., a psychologist, tells Shine.
Feeling powerful is inner work—it’s all about connecting with your strengths and capabilities, and trusting them to see you through a situation.
Personal power is the most valuable power to have because it’s 100% yours, unconditionally. It’s not about perceived success, money, or status. Instead, it comes from a deeply rooted belief in yourself.
When we believe we are powerful, we become more powerful in our lives and the lives of others. And it literally changes the way we think. A 2011 study showed that feeling powerful can transform people psychologically: There’s an increase in what’s called “executive functioning,” which can lead to an increase in focus and more flexibility and adaptability to change.
When we believe we are powerful, we become more powerful in our lives and the lives of others. And it literally changes the way we think.
And when we don’t believe we’re powerful? The opposite happens. “Without ‘power,’ we become stuck,” Rowley says. “Unable to move through life because we lack purpose and vitality.”
So, how do you feel more powerful in your day-to-day?
Here are some simple yet effective techniques:
Remember an Authentic Powerful Moment
Research shows that feeling and appearing powerful is linked closely with authenticity.
What authenticity looks like in action: “Acting authentically means to act based on one’s feelings, core values, personal views, and so forth, and not based on what others expect or what the situation requires,” according to Psychology Today.
Each day, try to find new ways to act in your authentic power. That can mean a lot of things, like setting boundaries or protecting your energy. It also could mean cuing up your favorite pump-up song—or, doing something that makes you feel really good and grounded, like helping out a friend or spending time on a creative hobby.
Each day, try to find new ways to act in your authentic power.
Keep Promises With Yourself
If you say you’re going to do something, try to stick to it—and stick to it out of a commitment to yourself, not someone else. In the same way, you’d follow through out of respect for a boss or parent or sibling, try showing that same respect to yourself.
Why: When you can count on yourself, no matter what, you’ll feel more in control.
Change takes time, so a great way to practice this is setting small and attainable goals for yourself. When faced with completing them, hold true to the internal promise you’ve made and stick with it.
Take Up Space
Research shows that expanding your body and straightening your posture can boost your sense of confidence.
The next time you need a power-up, try finding somewhere to stand with your arms and legs spread widely. Take several deep breaths in this stance to savor how you’re taking up space.
Empower Your Internal Dialogue
Empowering self-talk is an important part of feeling your power. We won’t always know what exactly to say to ourselves in times of uncertainty, but developing short, yet dynamic mantras can be impactful when feeling down.
Each morning, before bed, or anytime in between, try reciting statements to yourself like, “I am powerful” or “My power comes from within.” It’ll give you a jolt of empowerment you need to keep pushing through.
The real power in life lies in how you feel inside. Once you tap into that internal power, it’ll radiate to others and the world around you.
I originally wrote this story for Shine.