Power Thinking for Empowered Living
Have you heard of the concept of learned helplessness? Learned helplessness occurs when a person believes that they have no control over their life and are unable to change it, and so eventually they give up and stop trying to altogether.
Learned helplessness occurs after someone has been in a situation which they legitimately cannot control (frequently in childhood), but the helplessness becomes so deeply ingrained that later in life they do not exercise their ability to change themselves and/or their circumstances even though they have the power to do so.
Sadly, a lot of us operate from a state of learned helplessness. We argue for our stuckness, deflecting almost any opportunity to see where we do have the ability to change and at least some degree of control, rather than look for solutions.
But just as we can learn helplessness, we can also unlearn it. Even after years of seeing ourselves as a victim, we can teach ourselves ways of being more resilient and take responsibility for our current circumstances.
A lot of times we do not see ourselves as helpless in general, but feel limited or deficient in a particular area of our lives—maybe in regards to our health, our weight, our financial situation, or our ability to maintain healthy relationships.
For example, maybe you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and you tell yourself that because this disease runs in your family there is nothing that you can do about it. This is a limited way of looking at the issue. Lifestyle changes—changes over which you have a tremendous amount of control—can help you manage or even reverse the diagnosis.
Is there a way to stop looking at these areas of your life from such a limited perspective? YES!
We can use power thoughts. Power thoughts are thoughts that support us in creating the life we want. Power thoughts are thoughts that we can accept as true, or at least possible, and also free us from learned helplessness.
I love this quote from T. Harv Eker that clarifies how power thinking is subtly different than positive thinking:
"So what is the difference between 'power thinking' and 'positive thinking'? The distinction is slight but profound. To me, people use positive thinking to pretend that everything is rosy, when they really believe that it’s not. With power thinking, we understand that everything is neutral, that nothing has meaning except for the meaning we give it, and that we are going to make up a story and give something it’s meaning."
You have the ability to choose a different story.
Power thinking doesn't support denial. It does remind you that you create the story of your life and so you will be best served by telling a story that empowers you.
Instead of being the victim, you can choose to be the hero. Telling your story from a hero's perspective doesn't deny the presence of obstacles. The obstacles are there regardless of how you tell the story, but a victim is defined by the obstacles—a bad boss, a bad marriage, bad genes, bad luck—whereas the hero is looking for work-arounds.
When you make the decision to move beyond blame, whether you're blaming circumstances, others, or yourself, you can start to move into self-responsibility. Blaming disempowers you and will keep you stuck. Taking responsibility for your life opens you up to solutions.
Unlearning old programming is not easy! Be patient with yourself as you practice seeing yourself as the storyteller/creator of your experience.