A Self-Empowerment Guide to Overcoming Difficulty
Oprah writes, “What I know for sure is that no matter where you stand right now - on a hilltop, in a gutter, at a crossroads, in a rut – you need to give yourself the best you have to offer in this moment. This is it. Rather than depleting yourself with judgments about what you haven’t done who you could have become, why you haven’t moved faster, or what should have changed, redirect this energy toward the next big push – the one that takes you from enough to better. The one that takes you from adequate to extraordinary. The one that helps you rise up from a low moment and reach for your personal best.”
From my personal and professional experience, I know that nothing changes in our lives without a change in our inner game. And without initiating corresponding actions relevant to the desired change, we will continue to miss our desired aim. This leads to frustration and disappointment. And if we don’t muster up the determination necessary to try again, we will begin to accept the status quo as the best we can experience. This my friend, can lead us to live in a state of learned helplessness and accepting the notion that we are powerless to create the change we desire.
The actions in this guide debunk the notion that you aren’t capable of bouncing back from difficulty better, stronger, and wiser. You are smart enough. You are strong enough. In the midst of this difficulty, there is a seed of an equivalent advantage. A fresh perspective will help you see that you have what it takes to bounce back and thrive during and after any difficulty.
Step 1: Acknowledge the Truth of Your Reality.
Self-awareness is the starting point for creating change. A sure-fire way of getting and remaining stuck in a disempowering cycle of beliefs and behavior is the denial of the truth about how your feel and the circumstances that led to experiencing your present reality. Whether you had a hand at directly creating the situation or not, getting on track and moving forward from where you are by acknowledging your truth.
It’s important to understand that your perception of the truth is your perception. Your perception of most experiences depends largely on the meaning you attach to them. It is possible for others involved in the situation to have a different perception of it. That’s okay. This step is not about being right or wrong. It’s simply about ending any denial on your part about what you truly feel and think about the situation. Instead of numbing yourself, acknowledging your truth helps you to get real and tune in to the thoughts and emotions shaping your perception of the situation. You can’t change what you refuse to acknowledge.
Do This: Show yourself some tender loving kindness with a judgment-free zone (this means that you accept the fact that you have every right to feel and think the way that you do). Get out a few blank pieces of paper or your journal and begin to write down your true feelings and thoughts about the situation. Write until you feel you’ve put the core of what you feel and think about the situation on paper. Remember, this is a judgment-free zone. It’s your truth.
Step 2: Identify the Meaning You’ve Attached to the Experience.
In his book, The Law of Agreements, Tony Burroughs points out, “Your agreement is your point of power, and you can add to or weaken any idea or commonly held belief simply by making a choice. We have within us, in each moment of our lives, the ability to discern- to decide whether something is working for us or not – and to choose to agree with it and make it stronger, or to say “Hey, I don’t think this is working for my highest good.” In order for you to exercise this power, you have to first, develop an awareness of your inner states, and second, take personal control of your life.
Your beliefs about your situation reflect agreements you’ve made unconsciously or consciously about it. Today is just as good as any to end your allegiance to beliefs and assumptions that limit your power to take the purpose-driven actions necessary for you to pull up your stakes and move forward.
Now that you’ve acknowledged the truth about what you feel and think about the situation. The following questions will help you tune in to the story you are telling yourself about why you feel and think you can’t bounce back from this difficulty.
1. What are the agreements (the beliefs and ideas you have bought into) that are influencing your lack of progress in this situation?
2. What factual evidence do you have that proves your beliefs and assumptions about what isn’t possible are true?
3. What are the emotional interpretations (the meaning you’ve attached to the experience) driving the beliefs and assumptions you have about what isn’t possible in the situation?
4. In what ways has this meaning (the story you are telling yourself about the situation) diminished your ability to bounce back and thrive in the face of this difficulty?
5. In what ways has this meaning (the story you are telling yourself about the situation) supported your ability to bounce back and thrive in the face of this difficulty?
Acknowledging the truth of how you feel and think about your circumstance and answering the above questions provide you with a level of self-awareness that has within it the power to help you see how your perception (your beliefs, assumptions, and emotional interpretations) is shaping what you feel and how you are responding to your situation. Identifying the meaning you’ve attached to your experience allows you to examine your perception and determine if that perspective is working in your best interest or not.
Step 3: Be All In.
Adopting an empowering perspective about who you are and what you’re capable of doing enables you to harness your power and be proactive toward what you decide to believe and do to experience better in the situation.
Stop overthinking. It fuels self-doubt and leads to procrastination and stagnation. Creating momentum in your situation requires that you get off the fence. You’ve got to be more than just interested in bouncing back and thriving in the face of this difficulty. You’ve got to be committed. The difference between interest and commitment is reflected in the energy of the actions you exhibit.
When interest becomes commitment it fuels a passionate determination within your soul that ignites your faith and provokes the strength of your spirit. The courage dwelling in you will be stirred up as you seek to find ways to make what may seem as impossible possible. Exhibiting this level of desire towards the change you want to experience has within it the power to create a new reality.
You may be saying to yourself, “Jackie, I’ve done all that I can do, and nothing has changed.” If this is the case, then you’re probably feeling frustrated and angry. I would be as well. This is perfectly normal. The first hurdle you’ve got to get over toward creating a new reality in this situation is yourself. It’s up to you to learn how to manage your thoughts and emotions so that they are not a hindrance to your progress. Private victories always precede public victories.
If you are a woman, my Believe Your Are Enough Mindset Program can help you with this.
What I’m challenging you to consider is this: what you feel is important; however, what you believe and do is just as important. And in this step, you need to demand more from yourself. You’ve got to rise above any negative emotional reasoning about your situation and dig deeper than you’ve done in the past to tap into the reservoir of strength in your spirit.
You have what it takes to accomplish the actions necessary to manifest the breakthrough you desire. Realizing a new possibility requires radical faith and a willingness to take radical actions which can release the untapped potential dwelling in you to manifest your vision of possibility.
Step 4: Mind the Gap.
In this last step, closing the gap between where you are and where you want to be require developing and exhibiting effective self-leadership habits.
You can have in life what you are willing to be. One of the most effective ways I know how to develop the mindset and habits essential to achieving any goal is the adoption of identity-based beliefs and actions. Identifying the personal attributes of the person capable of manifesting a particular aim will help you develop the mindset and habits essential to your breakthrough. When your actions are aligned with the change you desire to experience, you will increase your chance of making your desire a reality.
The following self-leadership habits will empower you to create and maintain congruency between what you say you want and what you desire to experience.
1. Tune-In to Your Strong Moments. There have been moments in your life when you were faced with challenging situations and instead of floundering under the pressure from them you reacted to them from a place of strength that you didn’t know you had in you. Remembering to remember your strong moments enables you to galvanize your strengths and identify what works and what doesn’t work for you to reach a successful outcome in a challenging situation.
2. Identify Your Compelling Why. You possess the power to utilize your imagination to create new realities. This power is activated by a clear vision of what you desire and a compelling reason that stirs your soul as to why you must make this vision a reality in your life. When your desire is attached to a compelling why that incites a sense of purpose and passion within you, you’ll begin to stir up the gifts within you by initiating bold moves towards what you want to experience. And these bold moves will enable you to step into your authentic power.
3. Cultivate a Growth Mindset. Unless you do something beyond what you have already mastered you will never grow. In her book, Mindset, Carol Dweck, Ph.D. explains that individuals with a growth mindset approach life with a curiosity to learn. They believe their intelligence and talents are dynamic and adaptable. Whereas, individuals with a fixed mindset approach life wanting to look smart. They believe their intelligence and talents are static. Adopting a growth mindset which nurtures you to believe that you can learn more, be more and do more and experience more in life enlarges your capacity to become the person that can manifest your desired reality.
4. Be a Person of Excellence. Nothing speaks more about what you believe than the quality of the actions you exhibit on a daily basis toward the change you desire. Being a person of excellence is not about striving for perfection. It is a commitment on your part to show up on a consistent basis exhibiting your A-game in the arena. It’s stretching yourself beyond preconceived limits. It’s increasing your knowledge and sharpening your skills and talents so that you put forth your personal best.
5. Develop Resilient Relationships. Robert Brooks Ph.D. and Sam Goldstein Ph.D., co-authors of The Power of Resilience write, “Regardless of our age or how secure and confident we feel, if we are to strengthen and maintain our optimism and resilience, it is essential that we interact with people who accept us and from whom we gather strength.” They go on to say, “If we are to nurture and maintain meaningful, emotionally satisfying connections and lead a resilient lifestyle, it is equally important for us to serve and be in the company of …someone we gather strength from on an ongoing basis.” The people we spend the most time with influence our capacity to be resilient and sense of belonging. Resilient relationships involve a mutual give and take, high levels of trust, caring and openness, and a sense of security and safety.
6. Embrace Gratitude. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi states, “People who learn how to control their inner experiences will be able to determine the quality of their lives, which is as close as any of us of can come to being happy.” When you’re going through a difficulty, you need all the emotional energy you can summon to take steps towards creating the change you desire. Your energy follows your thoughts. Develop the practice of gratitude by making it a priority on a daily basis to acknowledge at least three things that went well during the day. This practice helps to prevent you from allowing a temporary condition to overshadow all that is good in your life. In the midst of difficulty, use the energy of gratitude to anchor your emotions and focus your attention and energy towards executing your next steps to move forward.
Although the challenge you face may have you feeling as if you are in the eye of a storm, believe in the strength residing in your spirit. You are full of “can do” power. Remember to remember your strong moments as they are a reminder of what you have overcome and what you’re capable of.
You are in the right place at the right time to learn the lessons necessary for your spiritual, emotional, and psychological development. The wisdom and insights gained from this experience will help to cultivate mental, emotional, and spiritual fortitude which will serve as an advantage for you, now and in the future.
The thoughts, beliefs, perceptions, and assumptions that make up the stories you tell yourself about how smart and strong you are and what you’re capable of handling in life, and what you’re worthy of experiencing have a huge impact on the course of your life. In Find Your Courage Margie Warrell writes, “Given that our actions are based on the realities we define regarding whom we are and what we are capable of achieving, our lives are either limited or expanded by the stories we have devised.”
You’ve no doubt heard the saying, “If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you have been getting.” The challenge that you face cannot be solved by telling yourself disempowering stories that diminish your hope, faith, and courage. As you demonstrate self-acceptance, practice radical self-love and transform limiting beliefs about what’s possible in your circumstance, you will begin to develop a fresh perspective towards yourself and your situation and be more apt to initiate the actions necessary to bring about the change you desire.
Understand this, any time you initiate actions that challenge the status quo, you will experience resistance within yourself and from those accustomed to you being a certain way. Expect it. Do not get upset about it. It is a normal part of any transition process. It's important to manage your thoughts and emotions so that you remain committed to taking action every day towards what you desire. Before lending your agreement to any belief, ask yourself, “Will this belief add to my well-being?” Get in agreement with beliefs that inspire you to improve the quality of your life. They will help fuel your consistent execution of purpose-driven actions necessary for manifesting a new possibility.
Be mindful of how your emotional armor can inhibit you from living wholeheartedly. In Daring Greatly, Brené Brown writes, “As children, we found ways to protect ourselves from vulnerability, from being hurt, diminished and disappointed. We put on armor, we used our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors as weapons; and we learned how to make ourselves scarce, even to disappear. Now as adults, we realize that to live with courage, purpose, and connection – to be the person whom we long to be- we must again be vulnerable. We must take off the armor, put down the weapon, show up, and let ourselves be seen.”
Daring to be brave requires you to embrace vulnerability. Although it may be a scary thought, the reality is, as long as you live, you will always be vulnerable. It’s not a matter of whether you are vulnerable. It’s a matter of whether you will be proactive and be vulnerable in ways that expand your capacity to express your authentic power!
What's one insight from this article you will put into action in the coming days? Share your comments below.
Share this article with someone who will be encouraged and empowered by the insights and strategies shared within it.