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What is personal power and how do we get it?
Let’s define Personal Power as the ability to change the direction of your life.
A simple example of exercising personal power is changing habits. Changing a habit could be giving up smoking, implementing an exercise routine, or controlling an emotional reaction to a person at work. How quickly and efficiently someone changes a behavior pattern is one way to measure their personal power.
Some people might think personal power and self discipline are the same, but there are some differences to consider.
Desire is a key factor to consider when looking at the ability to change a failure habit into a success pattern. The stronger the desire the faster the change will occur. A person who comes face to face with serious health consequences if they don’t give up smoking is highly motivated. With the desire to live, they can overcome a lack of self discipline and access personal power they didn’t know they had. What we may think of as a lack of personal power or self discipline might just be a lack of real desire. We can tap into reserves of personal power by getting in touch with the power of our authentic desire.
Competing desires is a big reason that people fail to make changes in their lives. They may claim a lack self discipline or personal power, but don’t notice the effects of conflicting desires on their habitual choices. Let’s suppose that someone wants to eat healthier but keeps finding it too tempting to pass up dessert or give up those potato chips as a snack. The desire for the pleasure associated with the snack competes with the intent to eat healthy.
These conflicting desires in the mind set up a conflict of agendas. When this conflict happens we often expend some of our personal power debating back and forth between the two choices. This simple conflict in mind can zap our energy, but there is another place where we are likely to waste even more of our personal power. It happens after we have the dessert or eat the potato chips. The critical voice in our head chimes in with condemnations about our choice; puts us down, tells us we failed, and works to convince us that we don’t have the self discipline or will power to succeed.
If we agree with the proposals that this critical voice offers we effectively hypnotize ourselves into being a person with little power left. We use our will power to invest in the belief that we have no personal power and no self discipline. This type of self hypnosis can be more damaging to our emotional well being than any amount of food we ate. If you have ever seen someone hypnotized you know that it can turn us into someone that we are not.
The problem for many people isn’t that they lack personal power and discipline. It is that they have already invested it in agreements about being powerless.
One very effective method of gaining personal will power is to refrain from agreeing with these sabotaging thoughts that the voice in our head proposes. Having the self awareness and learning the steps to do this are only some of the techniques that you will learn in the Self Mastery Courses
Personal Power is also a measure of the Ability to Focus Your Attention.
The ability to focus your attention is a way to navigate through conflicting desires. Something important to realize is that while you may have developed great discipline in focusing your attention in some areas of your life, it doesn’t mean you have mastery in focusing your attention in any situation.
Over years of training I developed the skill to focus my attention on complex engineering problems for hours at a time. I was encouraged to learn how to do this in grade school beginning with math classes and continuing into college. I was also punished with poor grades and self judgment when I did poorly. I desired to avoid the punishments and therefore practiced focusing my attention on academic endeavors over years.
Years later, when I began a practice of meditation to quiet my mind I was miserable at it. My mind would be busy with all kinds of thoughts that disturbed the quiet. Then the mind would provide judgmental commentary about thoughts that shouldn’t be there.
The problem was not that I didn’t have self discipline or personal power. The problem was that I had no practice focusing my attention in a meditative way. As a matter of fact, I had disciplined myself with the habit to focus my attention with busy thoughts of complex problem solving. So when I attempted to be quiet, my mind went busy with thoughts and comments of how to solve the problem of being quiet.
The new direction in my life of learning to quiet my mind was in complete contradiction to what I had spent years training my mind to do. I still had plenty of personal power, I just happened to be using it in my old habitual ways of busy thinking.
One of the reasons that I was able to change the habit of having a lot of chatter in the mind was desire. I was aware of the emotional pain and suffering that those thoughts and beliefs had created in my life. The awareness of how they caused me pain inspired a commitment to changing them no matter how long it took. With a desire that strong it didn’t matter how many times I failed or how long it took. I knew the change would be worth it.
If your desire is strong enough you put the element of time on your side instead of against you.
One of the most effective ways to develop personal power is to break energy-wasting habits that don’t serve you. Most people have an extraordinary amount of personal power that they wake up with every day, but they are expending it in their habits and exhaust themselves by the end of the day.
Very often, people commit to make a change in their life yet they don’t have a reserve of personal power to draw from in order to be successful. In order to be successful at making changes we will first need to gain a reserve of personal power to draw from. One of the first ways to gain power is to first stop doing some things so you have the energy that used to go into being busy. It’s just like time in your day. If you were going to add exercising at the gym to your schedule then you would need to eliminate something else from your schedule so you would have the time. The same is true for personal power. If you want to focus your attention on a new habit of going to the gym, then you need to pull your attention away from something else that has your attention.
What I often teach my clients about developing personal power is to begin by refraining from some old habits. There are two simple ways to do this in Exercises 2 and 4 of the Self Mastery Courses. They may seem unusual but are easy steps to start with that help you control your attention at the same time.
As you gain a small degree of personal power, you can use it to break other energy draining habits. Each energy draining habit that you break will return back to you more personal power with which to break other sabotaging habits. The more power you recover, the faster you will be able to break other sabotaging habits in your life. In this way the speed of change accelerates at a geometric rate. This means that you increase your personal power by doubling it every month. If you stick with the process, you can make more changes in month four than you did in the first three months of effort.
To begin breaking old habits and recovering personal power so that you can create your life in a way that you choose, I suggest listening to the first four audio sessions of the Self Mastery Program. They are free. Pay particular attention and practice the exercises in sessions 2 and 4. They will give you simple habits to implement that will help you recover more personal power in your life. Sessions 1 and 3 focus more on gaining control of your attention which is the other half of the equation. People who are more serious about their personal development will best be served by practicing the more advanced exercises in the paid section of the Self Mastery Courses.5