Personal Power—Do You Have It?

“I feel stuck—like I’m everyone’s doormat. A good portion of the time, it seems as though no one hears or sees me. Even my own family doesn’t seem to know who I am or recognize my talents.”

Sound familiar? I know I’ve heard it over and over in my life from friends, and if I’m honest, I’ve echoed the sentiment myself more times than I care to admit. But then,  about six years ago while I was taking a course with a remarkable woman I had grown to respect and love, she and I had an eye-opening discussion about a personal relationship that was causing me some frustration. As she began to challenge my answers, I became exasperated, and blurted out, “Maybe I’m just too compassionate. Could it be that’s the problem?”

Her response was immediate and firm. “There is no such thing as too much compassion, Christina.  However, giving away your personal power in the name of compassion is a big problem.” The truth of her words hit me hard, because she was right, and I knew it. That revelation set me on a whole new course of thinking.

So, first of all, for those that don’t understand the concept of personal power, I’d like to share an article from Psychology Today that explains that our personal power is based on the strength, confidence, and competence that each of us gradually acquires in the course of our growth. It is also self-assertion, and a natural, healthy striving for love, satisfaction, and meaning in our life.

I have a question for you. Do you believe you recognize when you are handing over your personal power to a family member, a co-worker or anyone else in your life? I know for me, the concept was unclear, and it can especially be so if you are not accustomed to asserting yourself. So I’m going to challenge you for a minute. Below is a scenario that I would like you to consider.

You’ve spent the afternoon working hard on a project that has a tight deadline while your co-worker argues with her boyfriend over text. When you ask her for assistance, she explains that she’s too upset to help. She believes her boyfriend has been unfaithful with a good friend of hers. You feel bad, so you work at a frantic pace. As the minutes slip by, you grow more nervous that you’ll miss the deadline. You’re new in your position, so you want to make a good impression. Just in the nick of time, you send the finished product to your co-worker asking her to check for grammatical errors. She looks it over quickly, and then sends it to your boss copying you on her email. Her note says, “Here you go, Jim. We worked hard on this, and we hope you like the changes we’re suggesting.”

How would you handle a situation like this? Keep in mind that this is about you learning to assert yourself.

  1. a) You say nothing at all. You understand your co-worker has been struggling in her relationship with her You are in good standing with your boss, so this is not a big deal.
  2. b) You say nothing to your co-worker, but instead, you go to the boss and explain that you did all the work while she argued with her boyfriend.
  3. c) You confront your co-worker explaining that you feel she acted unprofessionally.

So, now it’s your turn. I would love to hear from you on this one. Please email me at with your thoughts on how you would handle this situation and why.

Healing ourselves is our greatest gift to future generations.

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