We recognize confidence when we see it; a confident woman has a certain, unmistakable presence. She shows up as her truest, sharpest, boldest, most relaxed self. She radiates passion and enthusiasm about life and the projects she’s involved in. She’s comfortable articulating ideas and taking action.
“How did she get to be that way?” you wonder.
“Was she just lucky; born under a confident star?”
More likely though, she’s simply more connected to her personal power.
The good news is this: you can be too.
Confidence: The Outer Manifestation of Claiming Our Personal Power.
Amy Cuddy, author of Presence, describes personal power as being connected to your inner resources – your skills and abilities, your natural talents and graces; your deeply held values; your true personality; your boldest self – in a way that harnesses your confidence to act based on your own beliefs, attitudes, and values, while having the sense that your actions will be effective.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? So, how do we claim and develop our personal power?
It begins with NOTICING all the places where we disconnect from our most capable, competent selves. It is about recognizing our complaints and the places where we feel the most overwhelmed and powerless. It’s about admitting we feel anxious and that the situation at hand feels more like a threat than a welcome challenge.
THEN, it is about TAKING ACTION on our own behalf.
Anxiety Leads to Loss of Personal Power
There are literally millions of big and small ways we disconnect from our inner resources and let our personal power slip away.
Take a weekend visit with my parents*, for example. Saturday evening my parents and I were going out to dinner to celebrate their 53rd wedding anniversary. A few minutes before we left their house, my mother had a freak-out moment about the drive to the restaurant. Apparently there was a bridge out on Water Street, the very street where the restaurant was located.
Although she grabbed a folded, paper map of the town and my dad entered the address into the GPS, there was a lot of anxiety on my mother’s part, much of it communicated while we were driving, questioning how we would actually get to the restaurant?! As you can imagine, it was NOT a relaxing trip downtown.
My mother is the navigator while my father drives. She’s really GOOD at it, reading maps and maintaining a sense of direction. However, for some reason that evening, she let her anxiety over the non-functioning bridge completely disconnect her from her natural skills and abilities.
Claiming her personal power that evening might have meant she took a moment to check Google maps to gain a better understanding of where the restaurant was in relation to the bridge. That action would have lowered her stress and provided her with the knowledge she needed to return to being an effective navigator.
It turns out our PERCEPTION of a demanding moment, as either an ominous threat or manageable challenge, is what drives our anxiety levels. The greater our sense of threat, the more likely our high anxiety will compromise our clear, rational thinking – the type of thinking we need to access to our natural abilities and talents so we can align our actions and thoughts with our best, most relaxed, confident selves.
Two Easy Steps to Reclaim Personal Power
Step One: Breathe.
A few slow deep breaths, four counts on the inhale and four counts on the exhale, calms your fight-or-flight response by sending an all-is-well signal to your mind and body which has been busily preparing for an imminent threat.
Once you have calmed yourself down with several deep breaths, you are now more readily able to claim ownership of your natural talents and nurtured skill set to effectively handle the demanding moment.
Step Two: Priming Personal Power
Ownership of your personal power is about taking time to recall those moments where you have previously showed up as your best self.
You can do this by recalling a moment when you felt personally powerful. A time in your life when you felt in control of your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors; that time when you had the confidence to act on your boldest, most sincere self; the time when you had the clear sense your skills, talents, and actions would be effective.
Amy Cuddy refers to this as practice of recall, priming. This practice of priming your personal power helps to alter your thoughts and feelings. It infuses them with feelings of confidence and strength. Anxiety slips away and is replaced with a clarity aligned with your values, gifts, abilities, and the sense that your actions will be effective.
*Story used with permission.
Questions to Help You Wonder:
What are the big and small ways you disconnect from your inner resources and let your personal power slip away?
What types of situations are you more likely to disconnect from your most capable, competent self?
Take a moment to consider the demanding moments which trigger complaints, feelings of anxiety, overwhelm, and sense of powerless. If you connected to your personal power, what is the aligned, best-self action you could take?
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