Five Steps to Increasing Your Personal Power

By Sandra Abell, MS, LPC, ACC –

When I was young, a woman’s job – at work and at home – was more about being a helper than making decisions and wielding power. Although support person, help mate, mother and friend are important roles, they can become unhealthy if you lose yourself in the process. That’s why it’s important for women to learn to take care of, and be good to, themselves as well as others.

It’s a basic human need to feel some control and personal power over the events in your life. When you don’t you may feel resentful, bitter, taken advantage of, angry and impotent. If experienced often these unpleasant feelings can erode self-esteem and undermine confidence and personal growth.

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Unfortunately, there are times when other peoples’ need for power and control overwhelms your own. When this happens you might give away your individual rights for the sake of peace and harmony.

Because the traditional female role was to gain a sense of self through what was done for others, many women still mistakenly try to gain power by giving power to, and changing, those around them. This is usually a futile exercise, and one that will end in anxiety and frustration.

The reality is that the only person you have control over is yourself. Trying to change someone else puts you in the role of victim, since once again you have made your happiness dependent on the actions and choices of others. The victim stance is one of being powerless. If you find yourself saying, “Everything would be fine if only he/she would…” it’s a sign you’ve given away your personal power and are concentrating on changing the wrong person.

In the past several decades, roles have changed, and it’s now more acceptable for women to be powerful. If you don’t feel you have enough power or control over your life, here are five ways to reclaim it:

1) Define what having personal power means to you. It might mean being free to make decisions and run your life the way you choose, or it may be something different. It’s important to identify where you have personal power, where you don’t, and what’s getting in your way. Then, look at the changes you need to make to regain control over your life.

2) Pay attention to your self-talk, the things you say to yourself, either in your head or out loud. Be aware of the messages we call ‘shoulds’, which either support or undermine your rights to be in charge of your life. Notice if they give you power or weaken you. If they are undermining your determination to be empowered, eliminate them and replace them with positive, supportive statements.

3) Be willing to accept responsibility for your life. Ask yourself if being powerless is working for you. Is it easier to be a victim than to be in charge? Some people prefer to be powerless because it enables them to blame others. With power comes responsibility, so look long and hard at yourself and see if you’re willing to take responsibility to make your life the way you want it to be.

4) Be willing to make changes. If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten. So, in order to gain power and control in your life, you must be willing to make changes. You’ll have to be prepared to become aware of your thoughts (hidden messages mentioned in step #2), habits and perceptions. Identify those things that are holding you back and the areas you want to change. Then, create action steps to get you moving forward.

Be prepared: Some of the people in your life may be unhappy with the changes you make, especially if your new behaviors result in your taking less care of them and forcing them to take responsibility for themselves.

5) Take action! Without action, the first four steps are just a mental exercise. If you complete the above four steps and create your Action Plan, you’re ready to move ahead, claim your personal power and make it happen!

Once you have claimed your personal power you’ll be amazed how much better you feel, how much stronger your self-esteem and self-confidence will be, and how much smoother your life will flow.


Sandy Abell is a business and life coach, author, educator, speaker, Licensed Professional Counselor and owner of Inside Jobs Coaching Company. She specializes in working with women, executives, business owners, professionals, entrepreneurs and people in transition, to help them define and achieve their goals. She can be reached through her website at


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Five Steps to Increasing Your Personal Power
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