Have you ever been in a situation where you felt trapped or disempowered? Or knew what's the right thing to do but the price to pay for making that choice seemed too big that you felt you couldn't do it? Especially when it relates to interactions with other people.....
We've all been there, and it's not fun.
We feel disempowered when....
- ... We feel out of control.
- ....We know what's right but for whatever reason that we can't do it (whether we have an illusion that we can't, or that something really bad will happen if we do it, and we are not ready to pay that price.
- ....When we felt like we have no choice or have choices but none of them are good, like it's a loose-loose either way we go.
- .... there are many other situations and flavors of disempowerment, but for the purpose of this blog post I will focus on these ones for now.
The main problem here is that we get trapped it our minds illusion that we have no choice but feel disempowered in those circumstances. To be blunt, every time we feel disempowered we are being victims whether we realize it or not.
And any decision made in the state of disempowerment or our of fear is never a good decision.
So what to do?
First step into fixing the situation where you feel disempowered is not to look for a solution, but get in the state of empowerment first.
How do you do it? You gotta change a perspective, choose the one that makes you feel good and empowered. As that will be the one that is most effective in dealing with whatever is at hand.
I want to share with you what works for me.
7 principles to effectively deal with disempowering situations
1. No choice is always an illusion.
If we feel like no choice, it's always an illusion!
There is ALWAYS an empowering alternative, more than one choice, even if we don't see it right away. We just need to look for it.
In case you see available choices as "either ... or" or feel like you only have one option and it is no good, there are always more ways. You may need to look for them, they may not be obvious. But I know there is always more than one option. If you notice "either ... or" thinking choosing between the two things that matter to you but seem mutually exclusive, ask yourself "how can I have both". In my experience of applying this for many years there is always a way.
2. Feeling disempowered is a clue that something is not true.
Whatever we are thinking that is disempowering is not true. Why? Truth is powerful. Feeling in our power is our natural feeling. And if some thoughts or perspectives make us feel disempowered it cannot be part of truth.
Usually fears cloud our vision. Fears pain pictures far worse than what usually happens. None of them are usually true, we are making them up. And if we really dig into what we believe that makes us feel disempowered, we find that it's not true.
3. Feeling disempowered is always an opportunity for growth
When we feel disempowered, we have an opportunity to use it for our growth and reclaim some parts ourselves, step into our power, be more of who we truly are.
When we face and effectively deal with the circumstances that used to scare or paralyze us we increase our confidence and won't be taken off balance with situations like that in the future.
Also disempowering situation give us clues about our subconscious beliefs that might be limiting us. If we use them wisely, situations that trigger us help us discover what those beliefs are and then we can examine them and see if they serve us or not, and can make changes if necessary. See my blog post about changing beliefs here.
4. The discomfort to do the right thing NOW always is outweighed by the price we pay LATER for ignoring our intuition for too long
Every time I was in situations when felt disempowered to have a hard conversation and dragging it, the price of me dragging it was adding up. It was hard to say something when it was necessary or make a "hard" decision, it seemed hard and seem to have a price at the moment (upsetting someone, having $$ losses, etc.) but price of dragging it for weeks and months was far greater! When we hear our intuition but ignore it, we pay the price later usually many times more.
I don't believe in mistakes though. Even if we ignore our intuition and see the outcome of that choice that is unfavorable and painful and pay that price later, that of itself is also a valuable experience that some of us need to never do that again.
5. Believe it's for the better.
What always helps me is to choose (even when I don't see how) that whatever the hard situation is, that this hardship is for my benefit, and the biggest blessing. The worse the situation the bigger the blessing.
And then I let my subconscious work to show me how it is a blessing.
Choosing to believe everything is for the better has multiple benefits.
- First of all, it makes you feel better, more balanced and present.
- It replaces the resistance to the situation with acceptance and embrace and makes us be more balanced and with that more effective in accessing it and finding the best solution.
- And on the quantum physics level: if everything is energy and like attracts like, and whatever we put energy on we get more of, if we are in a good, balanced, and grateful state will will gravitate towards the outcome of the situation and the version of reality where we get the most favorable result and more reasons to feel grateful etc.
- Plus when you choose that perspective you are more fun to be around and not draining yourself and others energetically
6. Facing fears and doing what's right you get your power back and feel more energized
If we allow fears to control us, that's when we feel weak. Why? We leak our energy out, into our fears and worries. When we truly face what is, assess what's in front of us and make a choice from the state of empowerment and do what's right for us, that’s when everything changes. We get our power back, we usually feel lighter and more relieved.
7. Once you know what is the right thing to do, do it.
Having done the awareness and perspective work above, it will be easier to take the right action. But still necessary. Awareness and positive thinking by itself is not enough to create a change.
Real transformation happens when having the new awareness you take a new action.
8. Once learned, lesson doesn't repeat itself. If ignored, it comes back.
Once you learn your lesson, face your imaginary fears head on and survive, healing happens, lightness, you get your energy back, it all makes sense. Also, once we face what scares us, that obstacle or situation doesn't need to be in our life any more because we learn the lesson, and it goes away. And usually doesn't repeat itself.
On the contrary: if we ignore the lesson, we know what is right to do but not doing it, it usually come back in other ways, and sooner or later we will still need to deal with it. As much as we want, we cannot escape it. We all have those experiences. When we get same patters repeated in relationships, at work etc... So you always have a choice whether you want to do what you know is right, face your fears and learn the lesson now, or delay it for later. Neither choice is good or bad. Just each choice has its set of consequences.
Every time I feel this disempowered nagging feeling: I have no choice, I have to, I know what I need to do but I can't ... I catch myself now as I know it’s not true, and whatever fear pictures in my head will not happen. And if it does, I know can deal with it.
When we are ready to face the perceived consequences of speaking our truth, claim who we are and what we are up to, then these negative draining situations loose their power and leave our reality.
I usually prefer to learn the lessons as they come, but noone is perfect, I sometime drag things out too.
9. Whatever it is, you can also choose how you feel in the process.
That's an easy one to say but a hard one to live by sometimes. It is based on the premise that every situation is neutral, and you bring meaning to it and feel certain emotions as a result of your perspective. You either feel these emotions out of habit and by default, or you consciously cultivate the perspectives and with them emotions that you prefer. With the same situation, you can see it as negative, annoying, challenging, the one you'd rather not be in or choose to face it with curiosity, fun, gratitude, peace etc. Once you become more and more aware of your beliefs and perspectives you can charter your life, perspectives you use and the feelings you feel.
Developing belief "everything is for the better" is the most effective way for me to shift and stay in positive feelings no matte what is happening. You can use it, or find another way that works better for you.
Examples of recent draining/disempowering situations from my life and how I dealt with it.
Example #1 (me resisting to do what's right)
I was flipping houses and hired a general contractor. Very soon in our work together I got a very strong intuitive feeling: he will not be very good in completing the job. He was late on promised deadlines over and over, was emotionally unstable and always used excuses outside of him to explain his delays rather than taking responsibility.
I knew right then that we should probably fire him and find another person. But I had all sort of resistances to it.
- Fear that we didn't have any other contractor lined up, and what if I fire him and won't find anyone else to complete the job in a timely manner. The time was ticking: with a high interest hard money loan time was money.
- We had a contract, so I was afraid we couldn't just fire him, as the contract wasn't clear how that would work
- During his emotionally unstable moment he threatened to sue us if we don't pay him the full amount in the contract (and I was paralyzed by the fear of going to court)
- He was also a friend so I was afraid to ruin a friendship
So I didn't fire him soon enough. I heard my intuition loud and clear but allowed my fears to talk me out of what I knew was the right thing to do. We kept this contractor to finish the job. And I paid the price on so many levels:
- Instead of 3 months it took us almost a year.
- We lost lots of money on the interest for these additional months
- the job wasn't finished well, there are lots of things we had hire someone else to fix or redo
- the not well finished job costed us a buyer who put an offer but then changed his mind (saying if there are so many cosmetic things that are not done right on the surface, they are scared about the quality of remodel in the places under the hood.
- after the work was finished, the house flooded because of some plumbing problems and we had to deal with it
- and the biggest price: I allowed myself to feel drained, live in fear and worry and spend many months and lots of emotional energy while managing this project to the end.
As much as I want to blame the contractor, I can't. I am way to responsible for that :) It was his choice to do the work the way he did, whether it was right or wrong fair or not, and it was my choice how to respond to it, and I chose not to fire him. I didn't speak my truth out of fear. I allowed myself to be controlled emotionally. I had the intuition that it wasn't a fit long time ago but I ignored it. It was my choice to ignore it, and I paid the price. On the good side: now that I've been through it, I know what happens when I ignore my intuition. This was enough for me to learn the lesson that acting out of fear and ignoring the intuition has a high price (way higher than seeming discomfort or fear that's in front of me) and there is no way I am ever doing this again!
Which brings me to the next example:
Example #2 (choosing to do what's right)
I rent out my house on VRBO and Airbnb. Usually I get awesome renters but once in a while I get negative people who are just unhappy about everything.
A months ago I had a situation like that. Airbnb guests had a reservation for 4 nights. On check in they said they can't make air conditioning work. To which I responded right away that I don't have air conditioning in my house (very typical for Seattle), and my listing never advertised that I had one. The next morning I get a very negative email saying in so many words the house sucks. Not having AC is unacceptable. And then they also kept complaining about other things that were actually described in the listing (that sleeper couches are in the living room, that only 2 bathrooms is too little, and that there are not enough sheets (which was untrue, they just couldn't find them and didn't care to ask). In very nasty tone they said they already checked out, demanded full refund for all 4 nights (while my cancellation polity clearly states no refunds) and threatened to write a horrible review and cancel with Visa to get their money back if I don't comply. For a second I felt a discomfort in my chest. My heart contracted. In the past I was horrified not to deliver valuable experience to my guests and also to get bad reviews.
But now it was different. I caught myself feeling disempowered. And in fear. But by then I already learned the lesson of doing things out of fear never produce the good result.
So I asked myself: what is the right thing to do here?
And I realized me agreeing to their terms will not be fair and will pretty much me allowing them to blackmail me. It would be a weak victimy fear based response. And not who I truly am. I am fair. And responsible. And welcoming. And accommodating, doing all possible to create a great space for my guests. But not a push over. So once I stopped the default disempowered feeling and reminded myself it's all for my benefit, I handled the situation with cold mind. I called VRBO customer service to get their advice, which was the same as what I thought: they are not entitled to refund, I didn't misrepresent anything in my listing so even if they try to cancel with visa they have no ground. So I wrote to them a very polite but firm response, addressing the issues that were fixable (i.e. telling them where they can find the sheets, etc.) and pointing out that some of their complaints about house layout were disclosed in the listing and if they knew it is not good enough for them they shouldn't have booked in the first place. I also I didn't have to, but it felt with to go above and beyond as a host: saying if AC is very important to them, I can get some portable fans, etc... And also wrote that in all fairness I don't do blackmail and cannot give them the refund, and the choice is up to them: they can come back so they don't loose the remaining 3 nights, or not, and if they still choose to file cancellations with visa, that will be their choice too, and I will deal with it. To which they still responded in a nasty way, adding more false claims that they found black mold, that the house was dirty when they arrived etc..... I just left it without a response at all. I knew when people are so negative, they are not interested in finding a win-win solution, they just want to complain and get their way. Which I was not willing to give them. So I left it at that. And I felt sooo much better after I did it. I felt good, empowered, grounded, and like I got a huge chunk of energy back. I am no longer paralyzed by trying to be a perfect host and upset the guests.
Outcome: Despite my offer they they didn't come back, which I actually felt quite happy about. Having unhappy people in my house is bad joo joo. I never got any cancellation claims from Visa (and even when I called VRBO a while later to check, they said no claims have been submitted). Yes they did write me a bad review, to which I posted my response for my future guests to see showing my side of the story. And I trust the guests that are meant to come to my house will be able to see past their negative, unfair and to some degree not truthful review.
And now I also know: when you stand in your power, people feel it and they don't mess with you. I am pretty confident I shouldn't have any cases like that as I feel like learned the lesson. And even if anything like that happen, I will stay in my balance and can deal with it OK, without the old feeling of disempowerment.
Now with me more and more doing what's right, and believing it's all for the better, more and more I stay happy and grateful no matter what's going on. Since then I had some issues with renters that in the past would take me out and now I stay good, balanced and positive. For example I recently had Airbnb renters who hosted unauthorized party of 100+ teenagers in my house to the level that neighbors called police and the ceiling cracked, and one other house that I am flipping the basement got flooded (something I drained so much when it happened before). Now with both those cases I chose to believe it's all for the better, and the outcome was the most positive one that could have happened (in Airbnb situation guests left politely without problems when I asked them to, and Airbnb covered the damages, and in case of flooding insurance covered the damage and all the people throughout the process (insurance agent, water leak specialists, contractors) were a pleasure to work with).
But most importantly it's not even the specific outcome of each particular. It's the enjoyable experience of life I am having how NO MATTER WHAT IS HAPPENING. Everything is happening in my life I see as a blessing. I am feeling grateful most days. Sure I have my lows and triggers that I am yet to integrate, moments when I feel resistance.
The goal is not to NEVER feel disempowered (as long as we are humans it's impossible), the goal it to feel empowered MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, and when you do notice disempowerment to process it fast and effectively.
Now life is fun. If experiences are positive, I am happy and enjoy them. If experience are seemingly negative, I am happy for the jewels of growth that I discover and happy either way.
And I wish that experience of life to all of you. It's fun! And effective. And enjoyable. Given the choice, why would you life life any other way?
Every time you feel disempowered - it’s a clue that you are not being true to who you are, someway somehow. You are not willing to look at what is because of fears, most of which are not true. They are made up, fictions of our imaginations.. If we allow fears to control us, that's when we feel weak. But if we truly face what is, see what's in front of us, and make a choice from the state of empowerment, that’s when everything changes. And that obstacle or situation doesn't need to be in our life any more because we learn the lesson, and it goes away.
Now every time you catch yourself feeling disempowered you know what to do:
Realize having no choice is always an illusion, and there is ALWAYS an empowering alternative, even if we don't see it right away
Feeling disempowered is a clue that whatever you are thinking is not true
Every "negative" situation is an opportunity for growth. Find the beliefs behind disempowerment and grow from the experience.
Remember that the discomfort to do the right thing NOW always is outweighed by the price we pay LATER for ignoring our intuition
Believe it's all for the better
By doing what's right you stop leaking energy and get our power back
Once you know what's the right thing to do - do it
Once lesson is learned it doesn't need to repeat itself, if you ignore or avoid it it will come back. Your choice if you want to learn it now or later.
Whatever it is, you choose how you feel in the process. you might as well have fun! :)