Power is not what you think it is

Power is an interesting word. Often when we think about someone who has power, or who is powerful we conjure imagery of someone who is in control, who has ability the do things the ‘average’ person can’t or has super human qualities.

What does power mean to you? Can you think of a time you felt powerful?

Power often feels like we’re in the driver’s seat of a situation or we have control over someone. I encourage you to broaden your thinking of power and find ways to incorporate it in a positive way into your life.

True power comes from within you. It stems from knowing exactly who you are, and what you stand for in any given situation. It’s not about control, it’s not about others. It’s about you.

To be powerful you need to be crystal clear on your values and understand how they impact your life. It’s about owning your flaws, your strengths and the accepting the unknowns.

When I think of powerful women, the movie Hidden Figures comes to mind. The women in this movie stand true to who they are no matter the prejudice they are faced. They know what they’re capable of but are also willing to be open to learn and stretch themselves.

From a leadership perspective, who do you think is powerful? Powerful leaders are not about the control they can wield. They show their power in beautiful, human centric ways. They are vulnerable. They are real and it is very clear exactly what their values are.

Jacinta Ardern is probably the most obvious powerful leader in current times. Her very authentic approach to leading her country, her compassion and ability to connect are powerful. There is no breast beating or manipulation in her version of power.

Feeling powerful is an individual thing and requires constant mindset work.

Do you accept your flaws? Are you ashamed of them? Does this lessen your self-esteem or power? In these times draw on the attributes of someone you think has power. Maybe it’s an aunt or uncle. Maybe a teacher. A media personality. When you’re in need of power can you embody that?

On day 2 of the Empowered Woman Live Retreat we focus on owning our power through thought provoking exercises. We also learn tools we can use in times that we need to centre and use our power.

I encourage you to watch this video if you’re interested in finding out more about what we achieve together on the Empowered Woman Live Retreat. Once we understand all the pieces to our puzzle, it helps us to live a life of purpose. You can join us in the journey here.

Dealing with Difficult People

The most common question I get asked about my work is: “Do you take your work home?”

The immediate answer is yes I do take my work home because my work is a part of who I am. But…

I don’t take my clients’ problems home.

This is what people really want to know. People are curious about how I deal with other people’s problems or pain. And this curiosity is symbolic of our need to learn to deal with our own shadows or sabotaging aspects of our psyche.

These are the parts that get triggered in our day-to-day life. Ones that make us angry, pissed off and bloody well-frustrated!

When I first started working as a psychologist in my mid-twenties I used to take my clients’ problems home – even if I wasn’t really aware of this at the time.

I was taking clients energy home without even realising it. In that energy were emotions, thoughts, beliefs and stories that clients held.

These were things that were left in the room. And yet somehow, like fluff that catches on to velcro, some bits stayed with me.

What made the fluff heavier over time was having high expectations of myself. I expected that I had to fix other people’s problems. I felt that I was somehow responsible for people getting better and realising their potential.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was merely a facilitator of change. I was the catalyst for change for those who were ready to change.

I had to learn how to set firm boundaries with myself and clients in order to be a strong catalyst for change.

The many times I tried to do fix their problems or take their pain away, my work felt heavy and hard. It drained and disconnected me from my own guidance and wisdom.

After a long windy journey, I’ve come to appreciate and love that my role as a powerful catalyst for change requires me to be present with clients.

Why do I love this now? Because when I’m present our sessions are more energising, uplifting, inspiring…and life-changing!

When we connect to our life-force we invite more life-force into every part of our life. This is when life starts to flow more and we start to get glimpses of joy. 

I disrespected this quality of loving presence because I felt that it wasn’t enough. And that I wasn’t enough if I wasn’t pulling tools out of my therapist’s box.

Little did I know at the time, that the most essential part of my work was being powerfully present with my clients – and of course myself.

Presence is the key to unlocking our potential. 

When people are given the chance to be heard and to feel safe they can dive deep into their own wisdom and find answers.

“Given appropriate support and the means for release through surrender of ego control, we have an inner radar that knows what issues, in what order and what timing is required for the healing of our psyche”. Grof (2000).

So back to dealing with difficult people and “the how of it”…

When you encounter difficult/challenging people here are a few guiding posts:

1) Become a vessel of presence.
Don’t seek to defend, protect, hide or have all the answers. Here, practice makes progress. See yourself in your mind’s eye as a solid tree with strong roots extending into the ground.

2) Be one with your breath. 
Breathe into your belly and all the way up into your chest – this may feel counter-intuitive at first unless you’re a baby. But this way of breathing allows us to open up and be available to the needs of the situation at hand.

Holding breath in any part of our body is holding out on life and on our trust in the ability to deal with a given situation.

Full breathing equates to presence and this equates to trust and confidence. 

3) Detach yourself from other people’s reaction. 
Come to see other people’s reaction as a reflection of them, not you. Having said that, we can learn a lot about ourselves by how we react to others’ reactions.

4) Communicate from presence. 
Do not assume the other person knows what you’re thinking. Name the elephant in the room by owning your point of view. For example:

“I feel….” “I think…” or  “I’ve noticed..”

This is true for you even if they don’t agree with it.

5) Address the issue in the here and now. 
Unhook from any dramatic stories or images you may have about the person or what you believe about them based on their past behaviour. Say what?!! I know! I agree. This is the most challenging part about dealing with challenging people. But unhooking in this way allows us to also unhook from our own reactions such as defensiveness which puts us on the merry-go-round of reactive emotions which become bundles of stress in our bodies.

6) Use an anchor point in your body to stay grounded.
When dealing with difficult people bring your awareness into your solar plexus region (belly button area) and speak from this place. It’s an area in your body which can feel very uncomfortable at first, but one that can help you stay grounded, focused and present.

So, don’t feel responsible for other people’s lives. Focus on being available, open and centered for responding appropriately to life’s curve balls and other people’s perceived dramas – including your own. 😊

If you would like to learn how to unlock your presence and finally start to embody who you are, so that you can experience more freedom, ease and trust in your life, then I invite you to have a 1:1 conversation with me to explore what that would look like.

This is for you if you are ready to invest in your own personal development.

In our 45min phone call, we will unpack the biggest sabotages to your presence and power and put steps in place to help you feel more grounded, present and in control of your life. As a bonus, I will guide you through a powerful “Unlocking Your Presence” guided meditation to help you start feeling more present, in your power and on purpose. Schedule your time with Suzi here. 

Integrating Emotions into your Body

Over the last few weeks I’ve experienced some intense emotions: grief, fear, anger and frustration. I could feel the tension in my body.

It’s hard to do, but I continue to learn to try not to make sense of what is happening with my emotions in the very moment that I am experiencing them.

If I do I will just try and look for evidence to confirm what I am experiencing and further reinforce whatever intense emotion I am feeling.

This is definitely not helpful if you want a better quality of life and feel less stressed – or at least have a healthier relationship with stress.

By trying to understand your emotions in the moment, you will also probably end up feeling overwhelmed and experience other secondary and tertiary emotions. Feelings like being anxious about feeling anxious which can potentially trigger a vicious cycle of anxious responses to anything that life throws your way.

Psychologist Paul Ekman suggests that this is because we are in a refractory state. In this state our thinking cannot incorporate information that does not fit, maintain or justify the emotions we are feeling. He says if we stay in this state for too long it starts to bias the way we see the world and ourselves.

Can you relate to this?

For example, you wake up feeling a little off, you’re not so nice to your partner and you find they are stand offish. You take this personally, and then you go to work and suddenly the very project that you were so excited and inspired to tackle, seems to have so many problems and issues that now you find yourself thinking that this project is unrealistic! And you don’t have the drive nor the motivation to see it through and yet you need to inspire your team to get on board and get it done. And because you stay in this too-hard-to-do bias then the whole day feels heavy, tiring and draining.

It’s normal and we all go through it. But what differentiates those who stay in a refractory state and those who move through it faster?

Those who tend to move through it and let emotions dissolve or be integrated quicker:

  1. are more emotionally attuned
  2. know not to overanalyse what they are feeling
  3. stay focused on the bigger picture and their why
  4. exercise
  5. use the power of their logical mind to stay present and grounded
  6. take time out to just be
  7. don’t make rushed decisions.

So, what should you do instead, when feeling overcome with intense emotional energy?

  1. Be present to what you are feeling. Name the feeling. If you don’t know the exact feeling that is ok. As long as you can give it something e.g. a ball of fire in my chest. This is important because the process of naming and even locating a feeling in the body helps with accepting it.
  2. Bring your awareness in to the spaciousness and the quiet in which the feeling sits in. Imagine the space which embodies and holds the feeling. Focus on that.
  3. Breathe into this space. This is a powerful reminder that no matter what is happening there is this presence, space and peace in which the intensity sits in. And this is reassuring because it brings us back to the core of who we are.

To continue to support you in this process of integrating emotions in your body you need to create a lot of space for them. Don’t hold others responsible for what you feel. Take that responsibly into your own hands and make time to be in the spaciousness of your emotions.

And this is part of the process of becoming more of who you. More You.

Giving our emotions space is something that you can learn more about at The Empowered Woman Live Retreats. Gift yourself the time and space to understand more about you, your mission and your purpose. Come and join a group of like-minded women at the next retreat in May. I would love to see you there.


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