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How to Become a More Empowered You

By Linda Sapadin, Ph.D

So often, people feel powerless. Actions you'd like to take, but you don't. Possibilities you're excited about but they fizzle our. Passions you'd like to pursue but they're overly perplexing. So what can you do?

Let's begin with what is easy - your words. Yes, what you say to yourself can have a huge effect on how you feel and what you do. Here are 5 easy ways to change your speech patterns to become a more empowered you...

1. Reduce the use of qualifiers in your speech.

Qualifiers are words like, “maybe,” “perhaps,” “sort of,” “try to.” They are used to make tentative statements—ones that dodge firm commitments. Speak more affirmatively. Instead of saying, “Maybe I’ll get tickets for a concert,” declare your intentions by saying, “I will get tickets for a concert.” To increase your effectiveness, add a definite time-line, “I will get the tickets today, after work.” Put the kibosh on slippery statements like, “I’ll try to get to the gym this week.” Be precise by saying, “I will get to the gym three days every week.”

2. Change “I can’t” sentences to “BUT one thing I can do is...”

The phrase “I can’t….” (i.e. I can’t quit my job now”) may leave you feeling hopeless. No choice, no power, no options; you’re screwed! Instead of staying in this powerless position, shift the focus from what you can’t do to what you can do. For example, you might say, “I can’t quit my job now, BUT one thing I can do is to speak to a head-hunter to explore future possibilities.” Avoid ending your sentence on a pessimistic note. Aim for an upbeat note that motivates you to take action and build personal power.

3. Change “I don’t know” sentences to “BUT one thing I do know is...”

Sentences that end with “I don’t know” are often used to avoid confronting a tough situation. Though this may seem like a good idea (what me worry?), the downside is - you can’t find solutions for what you don’t directly address. To become more empowered, challenge yourself to explore what you do know. Instead of despondently saying, “I don’t know why I stay in this awful relationship,” say something like, “...but one thing I do know is that I’m afraid to be alone.” Does this solve your problem? No, it does not. Does it create the likelihood that owning up to the ‘real’ problem might guide you toward a solution? Yes, it most certainly does.

4. Answer “what if?” questions.

“What if?” questions that remain unanswered justify your lack of empowerment. Suppose, for example, that you delay booking a long-overdue vacation, explaining your shirking behavior by saying, “What if I’m tied down with work at that time?” Allowing this statement to remain unanswered reinforces your worries. So, use an alternative approach. Sure, you’re frustrated about so much work. Inspiration, however, is often born from frustration. So, get inspired. Figure out your options. Here are a few possibilities: Put more energy into your work now so that your schedule will be less encumbered later. Work while you’re on vacation (hopefully, not excessively). See what work you can delegate to others.

5. End “I’m waiting...” sentences with “meanwhile, I’m doing...”

Waiting for something to happen can make you feel powerless. “I’m waiting to find out what my friend is doing;” “I’m waiting until I have more money.” Don’t let “waiting” statements linger around without adding a “meanwhile I’m doing” clause. “I’m waiting to find out what my friend is doing; meanwhile, I’m developing alternative plans for the weekend.” “I’m waiting till I have more money to make major improvements; meanwhile I’m painting my bedroom.” Notice how “meanwhile I’m doing” statements are action-oriented while “waiting” statements are passive (ho-hum). Why wait and worry when your life can be more exciting and empowered?

Yes, what you say to yourself - and others - can deeply influence your sense of empowerment.

So keep these 5 simple steps on your desk to remind you of how you can live a more empowered and easier life.

“That which we persist in doing becomes easier – not that the nature of the task has changed, but our ability to do it has increased.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Copyright © 2017: Linda Sapadin, Ph.D
Linda Sapadin is a psychologist and personal coach in private practice who specializes in helping people enrich their lives, enhance their relationships and overcome self-defeating patterns of behavior. For more information about her work, contact her by email or visit her website at PsychWisdom.
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