by Kim Childs, CPPC
As I headed toward my 55th birthday this winter, I started to think about my intention for this next chapter of life. I decided that feeling more empowered was the overarching goal, and adopted the cartoon character Kim Possible as my role model. About the same time, I read a horoscope that said 2018 was “the year to kick your own butt.”
Pondering this directive, I realized that kicking my own butt involved trading complaints and excuses for choices and actions that would take me toward what most I desire to be, do, and have at this stage.
So far I’ve been cleaning up my diet and finances, doing some weight training, and studying shamanism as part of my desire to claim my personal power.
I’m beginning to think it also involves a bit of growing up – or waking up – at midlife.
As a life and career coach, I adore hearing about my clients’ baby steps, giant steps, breakthroughs and triumphs. There are two phrases in particular, however, that really make my heart sing. When clients say, “I’m finally giving myself permission” or “I feel so empowered,” I know they’re on the road to making lasting changes from the inside out.
It’s easy to fall into patterns of living our lives based on the expectations, approval, opinions, needs and paths of other people. It’s scarier to take the reins of our own life, identify our heart’s desires, and bravely walk the road less traveled. So many of my clients show up ready for change after spending years in a career they “fell into,” a dis-empowering relationship role or identity they’ve never questioned, or a life full of deferred dreams and postponed pleasures.
There comes a time when we have to ask ourselves whether the choices we’re making are born of desire or default, and whether the life we’re living is truly our own. We then need to give ourselves permission to get clear on what we want, and go for it.
Last month, I had to set a boundary and take an unpopular stand in a group I belong to. At first it felt terrifying to go against the grain and risk criticism, but I later felt a strong sense of peace and rightness that told me I’d made the right decision…for me.
Just as our choices can be empowering or dis-empowering, so can our language. I once whined to a friend and fellow coach that I was in the middle of a crisis. Without missing a beat, she gently asked me, “Is it really a crisis, or an opportunity?”
That’s the annoying thing about friends who are coaches – they rarely let you get away with acting like a victim.
Of course, we all face difficult times when it feels as if we’re powerless over challenging circumstances. Allowing our authentic emotions to flow and getting the support we need are the first strategies to employ.
But no matter what happens to us in life, we can aim to take charge of the space between our ears. A colleague recently told me that she’s reading The 7 Day Mental Diet and trying the practice of noticing and releasing negative thoughts and savoring positive ones. “Realizing the control we have over our thoughts and emotions feels delightfully empowering,” she says. “I hope to make this new response an automatic habit because it’s significantly easing the flow of my days.”
If you’re ready to live a more personally empowered life, I invite you to try on these questions whenever you begin to feel powerless:
How am I not a victim here? How am I not trapped, or powerless?
What can I do to feel more empowered in this situation?
What do I desire instead of this, and what is one small step toward that?
What kind of support do I need?
What possibilities am I overlooking or dismissing?
If a deeper part of me chose this hardship to grow, heal or learn, what might I be gaining or learning?
Is there something I need to give myself permission to do or say?
As you explore these questions, ideally in writing, let your answers begin to direct you to more empowered choices, and give yourself permission to make them. In the meantime, Kim Possible and I will be rooting for you, and kicking some butt.
Kim Childs is a Boston-area certified life and career coach specializing in Positive Psychology, creativity and midlife transitions. Click here to learn more and schedule a free initial consultation in person or via phone or Skype.