Are You Giving Away Your Power?

personal development Jul 02, 2013
relinquishing capacity

     “I don’t really know how to do that,” she said tentatively.  “I’m not good at that.”  Her voice soft, apprehensive, and apologetic; her body language signaling a lack of confidence.  It happened not once, but multiple times over the course of the day.  Multiple times.

     I tuned into my physical and mental reaction and response.  As the listener, I realized that I unconsciously felt superior the very first time her tentative words were uttered.  I tuned into what I began to think about her tentative words and unsure body language.  “Hmmm…this is easy.  I don’t understand why she can’t do this.  She seems weak.”  I began to experience a sense of power over her that I didn’t perceive when I first began working with her.  It all began with words—her words.

     Words.  I don’t know if we realize how powerful our words are in constructing our experiences and/or giving permission to others to treat us poorly.   How often do you use phrases like “I don’t know how to do that? Or I’m not good at that?”  Sure, we often state we don’t know how to do things, but what gives our power over to others is when we make this statement about multiple things in our lives.  Things that we actually CAN DO.  What shocked me was the person I was working with COULD do each and everything she stated she couldn’t do.

     Are you conditioning yourself to be powerless?  “I’m not good at that” is a phrase that children often use, but many adults do as well.  What does it mean to be “good” at something?  Are you comparing “good” to what someone else has said is acceptable?  Or have you ingested someone else’s story or perception at the expense of your gifts?  Words are incredibly powerful.  Repeated over and over, phrases like “I don’t know how to do that” or “I’m not good at that” zap your power.  Low energy phrases literally shrink the confidence you project giving others the opportunity to feel or experience a sense of superiority OVER you.

     “I’m not good at that” really needs to be eliminated from your language toolbox if it is presently a phrase you use.  “Good” is subjective but absolutely potent in diminishing your power.  When I speak of power, I’m not describing power that is abusive or forceful.   The power that I’m speaking of is the confidence and self-assuredness that we verbally or physically exude in our daily experience.   This power attracts opportunities, positive experiences, and growth moments to enrich and enliven our lives.

     Are you giving away your power?  Do you find that people seem to push you around or agree with you when you say something like “I’m not good at that?”  Take time to listen to the words you use to describe your capabilities in the world.  Consider replacing “I’m not good at that” with “I’m learning how to do that” or similar positive phrases.  Recondition yourself to use language that is purposeful, positive, and powerful.

     Each of us is a powerful, amazing person with unlimited potential to learn anything we set our minds to.  Condition yourself to be powerful and limitless!

Jenny DuFresne is the CEO, Leaders Transform. Our mission is to develop leaders who grow, inspire, and evolve people, culture, and impact. Our team supports executive and mid-level leaders with executive coaching, leader, team, and culture development in mid-market companies. Learn more at

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