“I can do this!” She said, walking in.
What’s more empowering: “What did I do wrong this time!” or “I can do this!”? The first makes me want to hide away somewhere and lick my wounds; the second fills me with energy and confidence. The first focuses only on my perceived weaknesses and helplessness; the second focuses on my strengths.
“What did I do wrong this time!” is an example of what shamans call a Pretender Voice; “I can do this!” is an example of a Power Statement, or Commander Voice.
The idea of power statements are used by career counsellors to help a person present themselves to a potential employer in the most powerful light. But long before that, they were taught to people by shamans to help them take back their power whenever they felt powerless, at the effect of something they had no control over. Power statements can be used to mask – as in the first instance – or to energize – as in the second.
I don’t mean to imply that all power statements used to impress others necessarily mask, but the focus is on impacting others, not ourselves; in that way it can be used to protect ourselves from others. If this is the case, then in reality we don’t feel empowered, we feel weak, needing to hide behind a wall we make.
Power statements used to empower ourselves must be true, must be positive, and energizing to work. The thing about Pretender Voices is that, even though they feel overwhelmingly true at the time we voice them, they aren’t true. They’re false! “What did I do wrong this time!” can indicate that we feel small with someone who we think knows more than we do.
Pretender Voices almost always hold a grain of truth, but become lies because of our focus on them: “This is never going to work!” might indicate that I’ve been through this before and expect the worst so thoroughly that it looms very large, as if it’s already happened. That it’s a done deal. We don’t see for what it is – one possibility – and not usually a very big one – out of many future scenarios, that have not already happened.
The truth is that we can choose to focus on something about us that we know is true and makes us feel empowered instead of helpless. “I can do this!”, or “I can figure this out!”, or any number of true statements about ourselves will do. That’s why learning to find and then using our own Power Statement can effectively get us from a feel-bad to a feel-good place in a matter of seconds.
Do you know what your Power Statement is? If not, here’s a way of discovering it.
- Close your eyes, take a few long and deep breaths; then think back to a recent time when you felt helpless and weak. Remember the circumstances. Then see if you can recall what you were saying to yourself at the time; what your self-judgments were. Open your eyes and write these words down. Notice how you feel when you feel powerless.
- Now look at the words you wrote down and ask yourself: are these words really true about me now? Are they about me, or about what I see as my worst fear coming true? Are they about my capabilities in a given situation or about others that I have no control over? Discover how, in fact, they aren’t true but at the least, heavily skewed towards focusing on your weaknesses or worst fears.
- Once you see the actual truth of these Pretender Statements, close your eyes once more, taking a few deep breaths. Then imagine the presence of a person you admire, or a storybook hero or heroine, or the strong and real part of yourself stepping up. What words would you imagine they would use? “You can do this!” “You’ve got what it takes!” “You can figure this out!” “I believe in you because you’re strong!”
What words ring true for you? How do they make you feel? If they make you feel energized and positive, then those words are your Power Statement. Once you have it, write it down and paste it everywhere so that you learn to see it wherever you go; every time you begin to hear that Pretender Voice inside your head, say your Power Statement out loud. Until it’s there whenever you need it.
Stacey Kramer – The best gift I ever survived
The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.
― Coco Chanel
At times we need more – we know the logic, know what to do. And yet something is still blocking us. I offer both one-on-one consultations and coaching packages. For more information, visit my website www.thejoyofliving.co/services-and-programs or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org