We all have a source of power within us, and whether we are conscious of it or not, we tap into it, to varying or lesser degrees, throughout our day. When we make choices, big or small, we can do so while standing fully in our power…or we can wander off into the power wastelands. Those latter choices are often the ones we look back on and wish we could get a do over, and they’re the choices that leave us feeling depleted, resentful, or otherwise icky.

How can you tell when you’re making decisions from one place versus the other before the “damage” is done? There are a number of clues, and they tend to fall into two main categories.

You leave your place of power when you:

1. make decisions that involve taking care of other people’s wants and needs at your own expense.

2. take on someone else’s emotions, issues, or other baggage.

The first way we zap our power

Numero uno takes you out of your power in a couple of ways: For starters, you end up depleted and resentful, which, as you might have guessed, is not a very powerful place to be. Feeling like you always have a million things to do and suffering from chronic indecision are often hallmarks of this power zapper.

It also separates you from your power by causing you to spend an inordinate amount of time and energy figuring out and catering to others people’s needs, which removes you from your own experience. Over time, you can get to the point where you’re not even sure what it is you want and need, which makes it pretty damn hard to get your needs met.

Take a look at the diagram at right. Your place of power is the blue (purplish?) spot in the center. The x’s represent other people’s needs (and their emotions and baggage, which we’ll get to next), and every time you go chasing after one of those x’s, you step out of your circle of power. Do this often enough, and it might take some effort and guidance to find your way back.

The second way we zap our power

Let’s talk about the second power-zapping category, which is taking on emotions, issues, and other baggage that don’t belong to you. Often, we do this as a way of distracting ourselves from our own stuff. If you know someone who thrives on drama, you can probably see how the drama keeps them busy enough that they don’t have to face their own inner drama, and this can be a hard habit to break!

Chronic fixers are also suffering from this type of power zapper. A few clues:

– If you find it difficult or damn near impossible to listen to someone talk about their problems without giving copious amounts of unsolicited advice

– If it’s really agitating when people don’t take your advice

– If you often jump in and try to solve people’s problems for them

– If you get just as (if not more) stressed out about people’s issues than they do

These are all signs that you might be taking on other people’s crap as your own, and if you’re really accustomed to doing this (as I was for most of my life), it can seem like not doing these things would be the hallmark of a bad, uncaring friend or partner.

I would argue that simply listening–really, truly listening without coming up with your next piece of advice–takes much more presence and love than diving into fix-it mode. We often try to fix because we’re too uncomfortable to sit with someone else in their discomfort.

But again, the emphasis, here, is on the ways in which these types of choices take you away from your inner power source, so let’s talk about that a bit more.

Powerless vs Empowered: Which one are you?

What happens when you’re outside of your power? Well, a lot of un-fun stuff, and we can sum it up by saying that you will be far less effective at, and get much less satisfaction from, the things that you do while you’re outside of your power zone.

For example, when you take on a work project that’s actually someone else’s responsibility and you end up feeling all resentful and overextended? I can pretty much guarantee that you’re not delivering your best, most effective self to that project. And you probably won’t feel very satisfied once it’s completed either, anymore than someone who has finally been allowed to spit out a turd will feel satisfied.

Or when your friend complains for an hour about her relationship that she’s been complaining about for the past four years, and you allow yourself to take in all of her yuck until you feel exhausted and toxic–you’re taking care of her needs at your own expense. I’d bet that you often don’t feel very enthusiastic about this connection. Faking food poisoning again in lieu of going out to dinner with her? Yep, sounds like it’s time to step into your power and take care of your own needs.

And for the naysayers who think I’m a crap friend, you can be caring and self-loving by expressing that you want to be there for her, and you will need to offer your support in another way, because participating in a complain-fest leaves you drained. You could recommend a kick-ass therapist in town or invite her to blow off some steam with you at the gym. Or you can offer to brainstorm, together, some ways of turning her relationship shit train around, and commit to keeping the conversation focused on action steps, not complaining.

The bottom line is, when you make decisions that honor your needs, you are able to deliver your best effort to the task at hand, whether it’s those Excel spreadsheets at work or helping your friend through a breakup. This keeps you fully in your power where you have access to your unique gifts, which are much more helpful than anything you could possibly deliver from a place of exhausted resentment.

One of the amazing perks of power

One more (very) juicy benefit of standing in your power? You become a magnet that attracts what you want and need into your life.

When you are standing in your power, you’re able to fully benefit from all of the wonderful things your power draws into your life. Think of it this way: If you step out of your power circle, when the Universe shows up with a huge jar of homemade Awesome Sauce, no one’s home to answer the door. Bummer.

One way to tell if this is happening in your life is by checking in with how often you feel that, in order to manifest the things you want, you have to strive and cling and push, otherwise they won’t happen. Put another way: If “no pain, no gain” is your motto, you’re probably not tapping into your power fully.

Think of it like this: When you’re in your power, benefiting from its magnetizing mojo, this is like running a restaurant that serves the most delicious food on the planet. Before too long, you’ve got customers lined up around the block. Contrast this with stepping outside of your power, which is like taking a bucket of crappy food door-to-door, trying really, really hard to get someone–anyone–to buy it.

Both scenarios require effort, yes, and if you’re running the restaurant, it might even take a lot of effort, but all of your actions will feel more purposeful and often much more joyful, because you’re devoting yourself to a project that lights you up and genuinely provides a worthwhile service to others. If you’re slogging around the crap bucket, though, all of that work will feel like an utter drain, and no one else is truly benefiting from your efforts.

Likewise, operating from your place of power brings more joy and purpose to everything you do, and opportunities and synchronicities will appear in ways that they simply won’t when you’re checked out of your power place.

The journey will be one of much more ease and far less striving. You’ll also have more energy to bring to the table, and joy + purpose + energy is a formula for manifesting potent magic in your life.

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