The Path to Personal Power in 3 (not so easy) Steps

file000349823764Since I’ve gone back to graduate school to be a therapist, I’ve been challenged to choose my preferred “theoretical orientation.” This is a fancy way of saying ‘approach to life and effective problem solving.’ While there are numerous paths that all lead to creating a better life, certain notions in particular seem to be jumping out very strongly for me. If you currently find yourself in an unhappy position, maybe this perspective will help you to sort through the confusion and take your first steps on a healthier and happier path – so I thought I would share. Here’s wishing you freedom!

Step One

IMG_6806.jpgGround level is cognitive therapy – because what we think really does affect how we feel – which affects what we do. I call this stage emotional triage or first aid. You have to first stop the bleeding. When we can understand our thinking patterns and stop irrational thoughts (which are hurting us) we can begin to change our lives immediately. It’s extremely powerful.

Step Two

bird and cageBut humans are complicated, multi-dimensional beings and there are other layers to us that must be addressed in order to create the rich and fulfilling life that we all dream of. The next step in the journey is to stop being simply reactionary to everything that happens to us. Many of us get stuck here – constantly juggling the small and even insignificant issues that present themselves every day. We’re essentially busying ourselves putting out fires. The only way to stop this vicious, energy draining pattern is to consciously decide to shift to an empowered mindset – and the only way to do that is to embrace personal responsibility.

Embracing personal responsibility is scary because that means taking ownership of where your current life has led you and not falling back on tried-and-true excuses. There may be no doubt that you had an awful childhood, that you were mistreated, neglected or abused. Unfortunately these things happen all the time. But to continue to be stuck living that life of oppression and baggage is to allow yourself to be victimized even today – years after those influences may have left your life. In these moments, the mantra to save you is this, “The decisions I make today, create the life I live tomorrow.” No truer words have ever been spoken. While we may have some inherent limitations, the right to make our own choices is not one them – at least in this country. It’s a right that we should embrace and honor. Another powerful way of looking at it, is through this affirmation, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.” While it may not be grammatically pretty, it is true none-the-less. We are integral players in our life story – and if we’ve given our power away to others then it is time to take that power back.

Step Three

file000839970015Once we’ve owned where we’re at and decided that we are the only ones that can initiate and bring about positive change, then the next step is to examine the bigger picture. In counseling, there is something called the “wheel of wellness” and it addresses each and every part of your life. Categories include: financial, environmental, social, physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual. Our happiest lives are created through making a thorough examination of each of these – and addressing areas of lack. In doing that, we are not simply allowing ourselves to be distracted by the problem of the moment but instead taking action to create the life that we desire – instead of simply just accepting the life that we’ve been given.

It’s a powerful realization and one that is truly life changing. As human beings we are the only species on earth that has been given the intellectual ability to grasp these deeper issues, think for ourselves and enact a plan of action to aid in our survival. To choose not to use this ability really just reverts us to animalistic status, similar to running from predators and foraging for sustenance. It’s time to take back our innate human right to improvise, create solutions and problem solve.

IMG_5787Even the forces of nature offer us reminders of new opportunities to begin again – with renewed purpose. With each sunset were are offered the chance to lay down our burdens, close our eyes and receive rest and rejuvenation from the day’s events – and with each sunrise we are offered a fresh, new beginning. It is up to us to open our eyes to the possibilities and seize the opportunities.

Life is hard, no doubt, but it can also be beautiful. We each have approximately 80 years to get it right. That’s 29,200 days to greet the sunrise with renewed spirit. 29,200 opportunities to make today better than yesterday. Nobody said it was going to be easy – but then anything worthwhile never is, is it?

Copyright © 2015 marciwise.com. Material is copyrighted but free to repost as long as proper credit is listed, including our website address. Marci Wise is the author of Pain, Passion & Purpose, finalist in the National Indie Excellence Awards.

(Nighttime Inspiration) The Importance of Setting Boundaries

Photo courtesy of www.morguefile.com

Okay, I’ll admit it – I have a strange mind. Through my work as a writer, I have received one of the greatest blessings of my life, the ability to open myself up to inspiration. However, sometimes I can’t seem to turn that inspiration off. Like last night for example. I actually woke up with this entire blog already written in my head (and this isn’t the first time this has happened). So what does that mean?

Is this a much needed message for me that my psyche was imparting through my sleeping hours? (Probably). Or was it a message for you – who just happens to have clicked on this link? (Possibly). Or is it a timeless message for all of us – and I’m just the instrument to put the words to the page (Perhaps).

So, here it is. I’m learning to just “go with the flow” and allow inspiration to take the lead. Hopefully it speaks to your heart or improves your life in some way. I know I will be heeding it’s timely message.

“Healthy people have healthy boundaries. Unhealthy people, well, let’s not get into that. It’s like this: some people have walls which means they let no one in. This equals unhealthy. Some people let everyone in and let themselves be stepped all over. This equals unhealthy.”Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Photo courtesy of www.morguefile.comIt’s okay to say “no” – yet somehow most of us have come to think that being a good person, a good employee, or a good friend means showing up 24/7. Not only is that impractical but it’s downright exhausting. Plus, it isn’t honoring our own needs but instead consciously choosing to put ourselves at the end of the line. Is it no wonder that we often find ourselves feeling like we have nothing more to give?

Setting boundaries isn’t selfish – it healthy.

It’s the social media paradox. We’ve allowed people into every corner and crevice of our lives – but its okay to keep some things private and special. We must nurture and protect our inner flame so that our light can continue to shine brightly. It’s not selfish or arrogant to do so. In fact, it’s just good common sense. Let’s face it, even some of the people we love the most can function as “energy vampires” – sucking the life right out of our zest for living.

file2661253104452Being an authentic, open-hearted person doesn’t mean that we have no personal spaces in our lives anymore. We still get to pick and choose the areas of our lives in which we allow people to roam. When you strive to give your best to everyone and everything, it just makes sense that you have to become choosier about where you place your energies. It’s okay to put people through an initiation where you can truly determine if they are worthy of your time and energy. This isn’t done out of mean spiritedness but instead to promote your ultimate effectiveness – so that you may continue to make strides in creating the most positive and uplifting life that you can.

rainbow qigong 2You must create enough space so that you can hear your own inner wisdom when it speaks to you. The noise of the busy world can drown out our own Divine instructions. We each have a purpose (maybe even more than one) and the only way we can set our footsteps on the right path is to do a little soul-searching and put the pieces of our own puzzle together – without too much distraction. That means that downtime to rest and recuperate is crucial. You are not obligated to be open 24 hours a day/7 days a week and shouldn’t be expected to do so. So, contrary to popular opinion, you’re not a bad person for caring for yourself, as well as others. When we can get it right, not only will we be healthier and happier but we will also serve as a positive example for others. A healthy life with a side order of boundaries? Yes, don’t mind if I do.

Copyright © 2015 marciwise.com. Material is copyrighted but free to repost as long as proper credit is listed, including our website address. Marci Wise is the author of Pain, Passion & Purpose, finalist in the National Indie Excellence Awards.