It would be useful if you read the previous week’s post before you give your time to this one — that can serve as an excellent precursor to what I share in this week’s post.
I present to you four ways in which you can cultivate more personal power and inner freedom.
1. Say no when your heart feels so
A few months earlier, I burst out on a dear friend for something that did not merit bursting out. Even though I apologised to the friend later when I got down from the negative intoxication of anger and ego, I tried to dig deeper into the issue.
I realised that sometimes you fail to set boundaries for even the most intimate of relationships. The other person, unaware of your what you’re thinking within may unknowingly trample upon the unsaid, invisible boundary.
Often in life, you agree to meet, talk, engage or do anything else that you don’t want to only because you do not want to risk offending a dear one in your life.
What happens then?
All the suppression comes out in the form of unwanted emotional outbursts.
My outburst on the friend was not the result of a single conversation or issue. It was instead the build-up of all the times I gave in half-heartedly to engagements with him when I did not want to.
Saying no sounds simple in theory, but in practice, it can be hard. I, for sure, have found it hard!
The social conditioning is such that whenever I say no, I feel a sense of discomfort and guilt—saying no to a call, a meeting or even an invitation. Saying no to that late-night conversation over WhatsApp because you love your schedule and sleep more is not easy, trust me. But if you can cultivate the habit of saying no when your heart feels so, you develop a lot of inner power.
Kelly Morrigan, in her lovely book, ‘Tell me More’ sums up her thoughts on saying no, really well. I wrap up this section with a few of her quotes from the book:
“Learn to say no. And when you do, don’t complain and don’t explain. Every excuse you make is like an invitation to ask you again in a different way.”
“Little noes prepare us for the big noes that define the major movements of our lives. The job we shouldn’t take, the relationship we must leave, the deal that seems shady. No, finally, to another drink, no to abuse, no to getting back together. No to extreme life-saving measures.”
“There’s hardly a positive intention associated with no. Except self-preservation.”
2. If you have expectations, spell them out
There is a useful lesson from my first relationship that I still draw upon when I find my ego inflated. Upon witnessing my angry outbursts, my then-girlfriend used to remark,
“What is the use of all this spirituality if you do not know how to behave?”
The words stung back then, but almost five years down the line, I see and realise the relevance of her words.
Wise ones say that the power of yoga, prayers, meditations etc. is manifest not on the prayer mat but in the day to day activities.
The reason the anger was manifest towards her was due to unfulfilled expectations.
Some say that setting expectation from people is like chucking a stone in the air and complaining later when it falls upon your head.
I humbly differ.
Setting expectations isn’t the problem. Problem is assuming the other person to be a mind reader. As human beings, I find that it is nearly impossible to be unconditional in our dealings.
I do not berate myself or anyone else for setting expectations as long as the communication of the same is healthy and respectful. You express and define your expectations clearly, and then you do not feel entitled to their fulfilment.
I love my realisation that to have expectations is good, but entitlement, not.
Once you can be authentic about your feelings and desire, you experience a greater sense of power and freedom.
3. Be authentic and transparent in communication
This one is essentially an extension of the second principle of spelling out expectations and links to principle number one as well.
Have you ever noticed that when you are trying to say no to something, how easily one can use a lie to extricate ourselves out of the situation?
Your colleague or friend asks, “Up for dinner tonight?”
You want to rest or have something else planned. However, not wanting to ‘offend’ the friend you retort to a lie, “Oh, actually, this person in my family is not well.”
“Oh, I have a headache.”
Yep, the headache excuse is not just used by men and women to avoid sex.
Have you also noticed how you feel a sense of discomfort in your heart when you lie?
I sure have.
That discomfort comes from the spirit which loves authenticity and transparency.
It is a great irony that even a person who is a habitual liar gets offended upon confronting a lie. The power of truth is such that even crooked internally respect the truthful one. 🙂
But does authenticity only entail truthful words?
Authenticity lies in expressing your truth with gentleness. Truth cannot and should not be a bitter pill. It should lead to freedom and peace. One’s expression of truth must not injure and harm another on an emotional and mental level. It is one thing that I have personally observed that needs tremendous work.
Vedic books say that authenticity in speech is austerity in itself — which in turn leads the person to immense power in speech and manifestation via the power of words.
A person transparent in speech and conduct has nothing to fear — That gives tremendous personal power.
4. Fulfil Commitments
When you make tall claims to yourself and others and fail to follow them through that causes a lot of personal power to wane away.
Say you resolved to be regular with an activity at the beginning of the year. However, in your enthusiasm, you failed to dovetail the resolution with a logical and achievable plan. The resolution fails, and you feel miserable.
Always start with small commitments and begin with yourself.
Say you put on the alarm clock for 6 AM the next morning. If you manage to wake up and get going with your day, you feel a sense of tremendous self-satisfaction within yourself. Such a ‘seemingly small’ achievement can fuel you up and enhance the quality of your other engagements.
Observe the areas of your life that need improvement. Start making incremental changes by setting small and achievable targets.
Do that one burpee.
Meditate for two minutes.
Write that one line in the journal.
Eat one healthy meal a day.
Read one page a day.
Just commit and follow through.
It is not easy to tame the mind; however, with a gentle yet firm approach, it eases up. 🙂
I sincerely hope the four ideas that I have shared with you resonate and add value to your life. The execution of these ideas may not be easy and smooth; expect the ego to create obstacles. Such obstacles, though, can be overcome.
On that note I wish to leave you with an inspirational quote from the Bhagavad Gita by Bhagavan Shri Krishna:
“That which in the beginning maybe just like poison but at the end is just like nectar and which awakens one to self-realisation is said to be happiness in the mode of goodness.”Bhagavad Gita, 18.37
Wishing you the power to uplift yourself and those around.
Suggestions For The Week
- One book: One of favourite reads of the year so far
- A piece of music to keep you grooving through the week