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Healthy Self-Love and Not Giving Your Power Away

Synopsis: Common ways we give our power away and don’t do healthy self-love in the process, The super important foundation concept and it’s “win-win” way, Plus a thought-provoking Love Success Question to end on and more.

One way to perform healthy self-love is to practice ‘not giving your power away’ which is something many people do without even knowing it.  You might ask just what does ‘giving your power away’ mean, and how do we do that?  Think of it this way.  You give your power away when you let others upsets you, when you get defensive, become submissive and act against your own health and well-being, when you act from guilt or become intimidated.  You give your power away when you care too much about what others think and not enough about what you yourself think.

You’re giving your power away when you do acts of needless and largely useless self-sacrifice, give-in to what others want you to do while postponing or negating your own real needs, and when you go along for acceptance or conformity’s sake and act against your own best interests.  Especially do you give your power away when you surrender what’s healthy for you to do so that others are unnecessarily and more selfishly benefited.

You significantly give your power away when you let others influence you to lose control and get angry, let others guilt-trip you, shame you, embarrass you, intimidate you and, of course, control you.  In a more subtle way you give away your power whenever you have time to think things through and forget to think about how your acts concerning others are going to effect you, your health and your well-being, and effect those you care about.  In fact you may give your power away when your actions, your thoughts and your feelings do not contain at least some healthy self-love.

Let’s briefly look at the foundation concept for not giving your power away.  Remember the 3000 year old admonition “Love others – as – you love yourself”.  Let me suggest that the little word “as” means love others and yourself at the same time, in the same way and to the same degree.  You perhaps were religiously taught to ‘love others and put yourself last’.  Then perhaps you learned the secular, selfish message ‘love yourself and let the rest fend for themselves in our ‘survival of the fittest’ world.

From my mental-health practitioner’s point of view “Love others as you love yourself” is a superior idea to both of those teachings.  That’s because loving others as you also act to love yourself means there doesn’t have to be any losers.  If I love you and not myself I can be the loser.  If I love me and not to you, you can be the loser.  It’s better that we both be winners.  Consequently the teaching “Love others as you love yourself” provides a ‘win win’ way.  This is the extremely important background concept for learning healthy self-love and not giving your power away.

I retain my power when I don’t let your words or actions trigger me into anger, defensiveness, surrender or automatically feeling bad about myself in any way.  I retain my power when I choose my thoughts, feelings and actions pro-actively rather than reactively.  I retain my power when I don’t lose control and act in ways I am later sorry for, ashamed of and regretful about.  I retain my power when I give myself permission to act the way I choose to act, to think and feel my own thoughts and emotions instead of in ways others would pressure me into acting, thinking or feeling.  I retain my power when I let others have appropriate influence but not control me.

How do we do this?  It takes a fair amount of work to learn how not to, rather automatically, give your power away.  That’s because we all started life without any power and were dependent on the power of others who were called parents, family and care-takers.  Thus, we all learned, to one degree or another, to give in and go along with those who had more power than we did.  Maybe later you learned to rebel but that also can be a kind of slavery to ‘do the opposite’ and, thus, not really do self-directed, self empowered living.  As an adult you have more power than you may realize or be using.  Mother Nature would have us be individually and independently powerful for healthy self care in our own lives.  To actualize this power it helps to ‘own’ our power and not give it away.

To start learning more about how ‘not to give your power away’ you may want to began asking yourself these four questions in the many and various situations of your life:

1. Am I doing, or about to do something that includes sufficient, healthy self-love?

2. Am I acting by my own choice or am I reacting?

3. Am I paying attention to what’s good for me in this situation as well as what’s good for others?

4. Am I acting assertively (calmly putting forth my points) as opposed to aggressively (attack and harm) or submissively (give-in, surrender)?

Those who learn how ‘not to give their power away’ to others or to old, destructive training tend to live more powerfully, enjoyably, effectively and peacefully.  They also live more self-directed, healthful lives, and likely are able to do more good for others.

Not giving your power away usually takes a fair amount of revamping your way of thinking about how people work.  The biggest thought that has to be eliminated is the one that begins with the super common words “you made me …”.  If I keep my power and don’t give it away you don’t get to “make” me feel, think or do anything.  I’m not meant to be anyone’s puppet.  I’m meant to be a self-directed individual whenever I choose to be so.  You may ‘influence me’ but you don’t ‘make me’ anything.  I do that myself, possibly with your help.  Whenever I think or say “you make me … (feel, think or act)” or “he, she, it or they made me … (feel, think or act in various ways)” I probably am giving my power away, at least a little bit.  Once you really “own” this way of thinking you can begin to be so much more self dependent, and self-directed, and paradoxically you probably can be better to and for others.  Then we can work together in co-equal cooperation, collaboration and other forms of democratic co-action.

Well, there’s lots more to learn about not giving your power away but hopefully this is enough to get you started on the healthful, self loving actions of ‘not giving your power away’ and, therefore, taking good and better care of yourself as you also act to be good to others.

As always Grow and Go in Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Are you more likely to think “others may help but my feelings are in me, thus, I own them and, therefore, it’s my job to channel them healthfully”, or are you likely to think “others and circumstances make me feel what I feel and, therefore, I’m virtually powerless to influence my emotions and the acts that flow from them”?

Previous Comments:
  1. Claudia Miller
    December 6th, 2014 at 14:09 | 

    This is how I try to live now, at 72 yrs young. When I did not have a voice, I let others hurt and wound me all the time, especially my husband and also family. I’m sharing this site with so many that I observe doing what I used to do……playing the victim. Thank you for this valuable information. It’s worth re-reading just to stay on track!
    • Jacqueline robinson
      October 13th, 2016 at 10:04 | 

      Yes I always put people first thank you so much
  2. olly
    April 28th, 2015 at 00:14 |

    Thanks for this empowering piece. I made myself a victim of errors I made almost 20 years back. I empowered my past errors and created a vicious circle for myself. Since I started to actively study and practice not surrendering power, I have noticed significant upliftment in my spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing. The admonition of Paul to Timothy, his prodigee, in 2 Timothy 1: 7 is a great help in conceptualising and manifesting the power inherent in everyone of us through the love and gift of God.
  3. cyrus
    August 12th, 2015 at 06:16 |

    I feel like the second part of the Love success questions. I was understanding that emotions are like a GPS making us aware of the situations that we are in ie. mistreated, disrespect, talk down to, threatened etc. Therefore I can’t control what I feel but I can repress it which is unhealthy, but I am responsible for controlling my actions in spite of my feelings but I’m learning living like that is to antagonistic, and creates to much internal friction. If we can select our feelings please inform me on how to begin and complete and maintain this much needed step
  4. winnie eileen
    August 21st, 2015 at 03:44 | 

    When children have loving and supportive parents and a good family structure they grow in a balanced and healthy way. Firm but loving boundaries are at the root of the child s personal power. When these boundaries are missing the child becomes like a boat lost in the ocean, and he gives his power away to anyone, or anything, that he thinks will bring the boat under control. This model continues all through life. As a society we tend to identify rebellious behavior as a problem associated with this. But there is another way of giving away power that is not normally identified as a problem. It is the people-pleasing, perfectionist, good-student, health-conscious route that is just another way of trying to find control. As adults we can only get our power back if we return to childhood and re-live all those shameful and scary things that took our power away in the first place. Wishing you all peace!
  5. Steve Carter
    December 21st, 2015 at 17:57 | 

    Hi Cyrus,
    Hope this reaches you and helps…
    I found it helpful to think of myself separately from my emotions so that I could act as a nurturing parent to myself. The key for me was to characterize the emotional part as a toddler and the rational part as a loving parent. Then, you the loving parent must listen kindly and patiently to the child. I found the book “non-violent communication” by Marshall Rosenberg helpful concerning how to listen well
  6. sharron
    August 19th, 2016 at 21:09 | 

    • LaTonya
      December 24th, 2016 at 20:17 | 

      FYI when you type in all caps you are yelling.
  7. Spot
    March 18th, 2017 at 10:20 | 

    I noticed that I sometimes give my power away to people whom I see as potential “parents” or could fill some of the parental roles I missed out on since I was a parentified child. So I am actually attracted by a controlling man, if he is attractive to me and has the qualities I appreciate. I willingly hand over my power to him and wait for him to take care of me in return.
    Has anybody else been in this situation?
    I feel a regression back to childhood, my voice becomes more infantile and I become submissive; hoping only they would take care of me and give me the love and affection my inner child really needs and is seeking from an outside source. In reality, sadly, these men are often incapable of fulfilling my needs and my void. They might try, but it doesn’t feel quite right. So I am left powerless, and confused and avoidant. I take back my power and start over.

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