I’m working with a client on his Self-Esteem. At the end of the session, he says that he has lost his last invoice and needs a copy of it. In making this request, the tone in his voice and his body language is deeply, desperately and agonizingly apologetic.
I share my observation of this contorted apology with him and he says that he suddenly understands what the whole issue of internal power means in relation to Self-Esteem. The apology was completely redundant and out of place and it reflects how he is devaluing himself, not feeling he is good enough.
Why did he do this and do you do this?
He felt that he was inconveniencing me and didn’t want to, but didn’t he have the right to do so?
This raises the question, is it really possible to stop inconveniencing people and can you give yourself permission to do so?
Life is Conflicting ‘Wants’
One of the great blessings of this Self-Esteem work, is that it has given me is a very deep awareness of how the conditioning from my parents trained me at the most deep and powerful level to not believe I had the right to be difficult and demanding. Not only that, it made me aware that whenever I’m asking for anything from anybody, I have to be hypervigilantly careful not to offend them, not to upset them.
And in this hypervigilance is contained a sense of powerlessness, a sense of un-entitlement.
Which is really saying: “I don’t deserve to have ‘wants’ and needs and opinions and preferences.”
In this hypervigilance rests zero confidence and zero Self-Esteem.
It’s as if we are metaphorically saying to someone: “I don’t have the right to be me. I must be invisible and un-intrusive, a faded and diluted version of my true self.”
There is no love for yourself in this space.
Having to be Appropriate.
I want to describe some of the other ways in which this lack of entitlement and lack of power manifests itself.
If you grew up in an environment in which being appropriate was encouraged then you would at the same time have had great anxiety about being inappropriate. Of course being appropriate has many benefits, it’s one of the key aspects of emotional intelligence and EQ is a wonderful thing for building relationships and being a great leader.
The downside in terms of Self-Esteem is immense.
You are always asking yourself: “Is this the right thing to say or do. Do I speak now or do I keep quiet? Have I offended someone or not?”
And then we try to control our kids and our partners when we feel that they’re being inappropriate and we get into arguments with others as to whether something is appropriate or not.
This desire to be appropriate can create war with people. And that’s so interesting because we are wanting to create peace by being appropriate and getting everybody around us to be appropriate and in trying to enforce that peace we make war – ha ha – the road to hell is paved with exactly this kind of issue.
The world is littered with bullies, people who want to overpower you.
You might feel threatened by them, judge them, hate them, want to run from them and want to kill them, but unfortunately the only way I can see their value for people like us is that they are our teachers.
If you’re up for the challenge they will teach you more about how to get into your power then any psychology degree ever will. 70% of my Strategic Questions model, which was designed to deal with difficult situations and people in conflict, came from my interactions with autocrats and bullies.
Most people judge difficult people often and when we are doing so, we are missing the teachings inherent in the struggle with them.
Other Ways of Giving Away Power.
Not many people notice how much of the time they are having a thought about something and not sharing it with others. They are censoring themselves. We don’t like it when governments censor freedom of speech and yet how much of the time are you doing that to yourself!?
Can You Flow Like a River?
Psychologically it is catastrophic to stop yourself from saying what you think and feel. It’s like damming up a river that simply wants to wind its way to the sea and the dam becomes stagnant and still and dead.
A great life is one that flows and moves and dances with vitality and creativity and most particularly individuality. Great confidence and great Self-Esteem are a celebration of our uniqueness and when we shut down and don’t say what we think and feel we calcify in the hell of anxiety and depression.
To give yourself permission to be just your flowing and vital and Original Self, is to step out of the darkness of the prison of self-doubt and into confidence and internal power.
Of course to do so requires great courage and the more you can come to love yourself and honour your uniqueness, your oddness, your strangeness and your difference, the more you can do this.
There are many other ways that we give away our power, but I want to just talk about one further one here now. And that is to risk failure and rejection. They are the cornerstone of this internal penitentiary. Our dependence on success and approval inhibit risk.
If you talk to any successful business person, they will tell you that you have to keep failing in order to be successful, you have to keep making mistakes. The person who can risk doing and being and saying the things which reflect the expression of their vital and alive Spirit, are the people who live in a world of greater fulfilment and joy.
Fixing the Problem.
Just start to notice the contraction in your body and in your mind as you want to apologise for being you. Simply noticing this will begin to open up the possibility for you to reverse the process.
Just noticing with an awareness and an awakeness that is ready to change, ready to make new choices and ready to take the risks that are required to stand in your power and to deal with the conflict and the difficulties that are likely to arise, is the start of this journey into internal power.
In love & power,