'The primary source of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.'
This is what I know about personal power and, deep down, you know it too. Personal power is the shape you can make out even in the darkest place. You look to it in the distance and, if you dare to reach out, you recognise that it's not so far away. In fact, it's a reflection of something which already lies within. It's totally available to you, but you have to be brave.
Personal power exists inside the moment at which you make a different choice, even if it scares you and even if what lies beyond it is nameless and vast and unexplored. When you believe in yourself and acknowledge your strengths, the new terrain becomes interesting and exciting rather than terrifying and perilous. You take a deep breath, stand in your power and say, 'I can handle this.' Difficult situations present themselves to you all your life and, often, the circumstances can't be changed - you have no power over them. Your power lies in your response. You get to choose your actions and guide your thoughts in the midst of chaos and that's the kind of magic you should show up for in your own life.
It's never too late to form a truly meaningful connection to your personal power. My mother didn't really do it until her late thirties after her second divorce. For her, it started with radical acceptance. She had to get seriously honest with herself about her childhood, her role as a mother, her relationships with her friends and the two failed marriages behind her. It was tough. But you have to know what your foundations are before you can build something on them, and that means pulling back the layers of delusion and denial to reveal that sweet little slice of reality which truly belongs to you. And then, you own it. Sometimes, radical acceptance is as simple as saying these words out loud: 'I'm not happy. I want changes. I'm not living the life I deserve and only I can alter that fact.' As you release the truth you've tried to cover up for years, you might find yourself crying uncontrollably. Let it happen. Surrender is an underrated word.
What is personal power? What does it feel like? When someone has a strong connection to their personal power, what kind of life are they living? What choices do they make?
For me, personal power feels like a steady, unbreakable inner strength which holds me upright in storms. It's the knowledge that I can say 'no' and mean it, that I can serve others and still be filled with infinite love and that I can reassure, comfort and guide myself without hankering after the constant validation of others. When I stand in my power, I can make choices which align themselves with my values, I can have the courage of my convictions, I can speak my truth, I can ask, I can listen and I can be present.
When self-doubt keeps showing up on a loop and filling you with debilitating fear, try searching for the evidence of your strengths and attributes. Where have you shown them? When did you put them into action? As you search your life for traces of your qualities and abilities, you'll find them hidden in long forgotten corners and in places you never even thought to look. When you see them, stop for a moment and acknowledge them, appreciate them and vow to pay attention to them in future. At what point did you pleasantly surprise yourself? When did you stick up for your rights? How have you helped others through their dark nights of the soul?
Shift your perspective so that you can create space to celebrate yourself without feeling guilty. Many people delay the quest for their personal power for years because they've managed to convince themselves that committing to personal evolution is selfish or unnecessary. For those people, the bravest step is to take something for themselves: time, space, silence. The little voice of conditioning will ring out, telling them to stop being so foolish and self-indulgent. But the truth is that if you want to be in service, you must first serve yourself. If you have been lacking for a very long time, why would you deny yourself the chance to heal? So many of the good things people wish for others to receive are the exact same things they deny to themselves without question. At some point, we must ask why.
A long time ago, I learned that it's completely impossible to make everyone happy all the time. Their greatest source of happiness is within them, not within me. They must learn that lesson, with or without my help. To be in touch with your personal power is to know that you must live life on your own terms. If you remain in an unhappy marriage to appease your family or maintain friendships which no longer serve your highest good because you don't want to hurt people, you are under ransom. The point of radical acceptance comes when you recognise that fact and refuse to shut it away. Speaking your truth is a sign of personal power in practice, so is the releasing of unhealthy behaviours which cause misery. When you allow your personal power to enter into your reality, you'll see yourself being more honest with people, more true to your desires and more in tune with your own sense of potential. You'll forge forward because you'll give yourself permission to do that, rather than waiting for someone else's signal.
For a lot of people, 'power' seems like a dirty word and it's not hard to see why. But I use it because it's a strong word and because it's a necessary word for these times. Dominion over the self is a desire that no one should shame you for, and if they do, it's probably because they fear their own personal power and what it could do for them if they reached out and touched it.
Make that choice. Forge that path. I salute you.