If I was to give one piece of advice to my future child it would be: Take responsibility for your actions and emotions. You choose how you feel and you choose how you react to situations.
After nine years of denial, I finally got it. I am the one who chooses how I feel and how I respond to situations. I spend years blaming others for making me sad, angry or even happy. Little did I know, responding with those emotions were my choice.
From the ages of 16 – 22, I was insecure, obsessed with whether people liked me or not and most detrimentally, I let other people’s actions dictate my emotions.
It was easy to wind me up and make me angry. Something my brother learned from an early age.
I had no control over my emotions. I blamed everyone else when I was angry or upset. Crying was always my default. Crying meant I would get attention and sympathy, every victim’s dream.
It feels weird thinking about how I used to be.
Nowadays, I love the person I am, flaws and all. If I do something that makes me happy or makes me laugh (at my own expense), I am not bothered about others opinions. They are entitled to their own opinion and I respect that.
If someone does something and it makes me angry or upset, I now ask myself why am I feeling this way? I become curious about my own emotions and question them as opposed to immediately blaming others. I’ll talk more about this later.
Below are 4 lessons I have learned about empowering yourself.
I control my own emotions.
I choose what emotion I feel
At the age of 14 I read a book called ‘Born to Succeed’ by Colin Turner. It said that I am in control of my emotions. I am the one that chooses to feel angry or sad. I am the one that chooses to feel empowered or loved.
I choose what emotion I want to feel by choosing thoughts and a perspective that is in alignment with the emotion I want to feel.
For example, if I am at a networking event and want to feel confident I ask myself “Imagine if I was feeling confident right now, how would I feel? What would I do?”
My posture immediately changes. I smile. I imagine everyone in the room is already my friend. They all want to talk to me and catch up. Plus, I have the answer to all their problems and the key to making their dreams come true. I’m like Genie from Aladdin.
How does that make me feel? Well, it does wonders to my ego haha. It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I have a purpose there and it makes me keen to approach people because I know I can help them.
I choose how I interpret things
Interpreting messages. No one can interpret messages for me. People can tell me their perspective, but at the end of the day I am going to believe the interpretation I want to believe. Even if it is a lie.
For example, a guy says “You look beautiful,” I can: a) thank him and let my ego enjoy the compliment or b) make the assumption he is lying and feel anger towards him.
The same situation, but completely different emotional responses. I choose which way I want to emotionally respond. Therefore, is it not logical to choose the option that has the best outcome for everyone involved?
Yes, we do have automatic responses to things; but remember we chose those automatic responses in the first place by what we practice.
We can reprogram our automatic responses by repeatedly practising a different response. Easier said than done, but 100 percent possible. There is a good article about it here.
Let’s play a fun little game. It is called “The 24-hour negativity fast”.
This means you are not allowed to think anything negative about yourself or assume others are thinking negatively of you for a whole 24-hours. If negative thoughts come in, force yourself to think about something else.
When this game has been suggested, lots of people think “F*** that. a) There is no way I can do that. b) People will think I’m deluded.”
To clarify, negative thoughts will come into your head. Guaranteed. That’s totally fine. Your job is to notice when the negative thoughts come in and make a conscious choice to focus on a positive thought.
For example, if a stranger walks past and gives you a random look, you are not allowed to assume it is because you smell bad, or because they are judging you for XYZ.
Instead, use your positive imagination. Maybe they like your smile? Maybe they like your coat? Or maybe they are thinking “Daymm, what a hottie!” Mm hmm, work it girl.
It takes the same amount of time and energy to make positive assumptions as it does to make negative assumptions.
The truth is, most assumptions are made up crap in our minds so we might as well chose the assumptions that make us feel better. Make sense?
This is a good reminder for me too. As of now, I’m going to join you on this 24-hour negativity fast. How exciting!
Take responsibility for your actions
In my case of my tenant’s pyscho boyfriend (see this article for details), it was my choice to rent the room to the girl. It was my choice to continue letting the room to her when the boyfriend told me he would be staying there for a couple nights a week.
It was my choice to enforce the contract (which is what the boyfriend was angry about).
Once I understood my actions created the problem, I understood that my actions can then create the solution. The power had always been in my hands.
At the moment, that sentence may just look like words on a screen but please read it again. The power had always been in my hands. Once I understood this, my mind instantly changed from playing the victim to be being empowered.
In the end, I decided it was not worth the headache. I won’t go into all the ins and outs but the result was that I gave the girl her full deposit back, minus a contribution to the re-let fee, rent pro-rota for the month and a homemade congratulations card wishing her well (as it turned out she was pregnant).
This is the choice I made and I am proud of my actions.
I could have let my ego get in the way and continued fighting with her boyfriend. Or I could have got back at the guy by taking his girlfriend to court for breaching her contract. None of those actions would make me feel good. They would make me feel horrible, plus I really liked the girl. She was always polite, clean, and paid rent on time.
I take full responsibility for my actions. This means I practice only taking actions I am proud of. Obviously, easier said than done, and YES I still mess up a lot. However, I’ve found this principle to be a good guideline.
Oh and as it so happened, I found another tenant who wanted to move in on the same day she moved out #LuckyBuggar.
Don’t get revenge, get better
We play the victim when we feel someone has taken away our power. In order to feel better we figure out a way to get back our power i.e. revenge or making them ‘pay’ for what they have done to us.
The thing is, no one can take away our power. We can choose to feel powerless.
The first time I heard the previous sentence it made zero sense to me so allow me to illustrate with an example. In my younger days I was a revengeful victim against my poor parents.
I remember one time being really upset with Mum. I can’t remember what about, I doubt she had done anything wrong, she had probably said “no” to buying me something.
Anyway, I remember being so hurt by this and after a waterfall of tears I went from feeling hopeless to feeling anger. I decided to get revenge (I feel so bad writing this, Mum is one of the sweetest people I know. Maybe she’ll find this funny…).
Once I got home, I snuck into Mum’s room, grabbed one of Mum’s expensive makeup brushes and put oil or moisturiser or something like that on it, then ran away. “That will show her for messing with me,” I thought to myself while on this emotionally unstable power trip.
An hour later I was still angry but felt bad about what I had done. I love my Mum, why did I try and upset her?
A day later Mum found her makeup brush and asked if I knew anything about it. I burst into tears and told her how sorry I was. I felt terrible.
I went to my piggy bank to see how much money I had. I have £7.40 in there. I told her I would buy her a new one when we next went to town.
I was the one who chose to feel powerless and I chose to punish someone else for that. That’s not right or ethical. There is a ridiculous number of people who blame others, for them actively choosing to feel powerless. If everyone learned to take responsibility for their actions, oh my gosh! Imagine what kind of world we would live in :). There would be no revenge and no blame. Everyone would understand how powerful they are (in a healthy way), naturally, everyone would then be confident.
I would love to live in a world where everyone had good self-esteem.
Of course, people only know what they know. I totally get that. I guess that’s why I wanted to write this blog. To share a powerful life lesson I have learned and hope that anyone looking to take back their power takes note.
If only my 7-year-old self had read this blog and learned that she can choose how she responds to situations.
4. Refocus our energy
Instead of using energy on hurting people, imagine if we used our energy on becoming a better human being? And making the world a more loving place?
I am aware those last two sentences sound a bit fluffy so let me share with you little things I do to achieve this:
- Think about my friends and what I appreciate about them. If one individual friend stands out in my mind I call or text, saying how much I appreciate them.
- Get out my own head and watch an inspiring movie. Watching an inspiring movie gives me something else for my mind to focus. Plus I always leave the cinema with a different perspective on life.
Seeking sympathy or blaming others for your circumstances = playing the victim
Taking responsibility for your actions and emotions = playing the empowered bad ass.
Head over to our free Financial Freedom Coaching group on Facebook for daily motivational tips, how-to articles, and life lessons. Also, please join our mailing list (it’s on the right) for our articles straight to your inbox. Lastly, here are some more of my stories and things I’ve learned:
- Create your own success mould!
- 3 lessons my hilariously awkward dating life taught me about property
- 7 simple cures for self-sabotage (one you can even do in bed)
- 21 Emotion Regulation Worksheets & Strategies