I’ve had a couple of really interesting coaching conversations lately that have reminded me about just how many people seem to find themselves in a very disempowered state. The most amazing thing about how they feel though, is that it’s something they’ve chosen themselves by giving away power that is rightfully theirs.
There are so many creative ways people let go of power that belongs to them and then find themselves in terribly unhappy situation that they feel completely unable to change, it’s crazy!

Here is a sample of some of the great disempowerment strategies people run.

1. They externalise issues. They place all their hope for change on things outside their control. Sure, there are always things that happen to us or around us that we can’t control, but we always have 100% control of our response and the choices we make in spite of what others say or do. People disempower themselves by living in holding patterns waiting for externals to change so that they can move forward rather than just changing the way they respond. Often people are waiting for God to do something or change their circumstance before they feel they can make progress.

2. They remain in their advantage. – My mate Greg Bellingham describes people like this as “closed and sure”. When people refuse to operate outside their strengths, they end up living in an incredibly small place and they cut themselves off from opportunities for learning, growth, and receiving from others. To live out of your advantage may appear to be a position of strength and power, but it is actually a very weak and powerless position that always causes a person to stagnate and grow cold. Alternatively, vulnerability, humility, grace and the risk of stepping outside your comfort zone always require far more courage, but inevitably place you in a position with the power to learn, grow and become enlarged.

3. They dance around the real issues. – One of my favourite words is ‘obfuscation’ which means – to cloud or confuse the issue. When we lie to ourselves about what is really going on inside us or we are unwilling to face up to the truth, we completely disempower ourselves and remove all ability to change or grow. We may not know what to do about our situation or issues, but as long as we are completely honest, we give ourselves the power to bring change. A classic example of this is when people say they can’t do something, when the reality is (if they were totally honest) that they don’t want to.

4. They live with the illusion of no choice – Blame and excuse cause people to feel like the results they are getting are not their fault and therefore outside their control. The reality is we always have choice. In fact no one can make us happy or angry or sad. We always have ultimate control over our emotional state and we totally disempower ourselves when we give that power to someone else.

5. They fear the implications for standing their ground. To hold onto relational power that is rightfully yours may mean hurting or offending others. The perception is that it’s better to just do what the other person wants and keep the peace. It is impossible to have a healthy relationship where there is an imbalance of power. Where an a parent constantly gives in to the demands of a child, or one partner constantly plays the martyr to the desire of the other, the relationship becomes incredibly dysfunctional. People do this kind of thing so that the other person will like because they fear that to say no would cause the other person to distance themselves. Why does a child throw a tantrum and demand their way? Because they believe if they do it long enough, eventually mum or dad will give away their power and they will get what they want. Why does one partner constantly behave in a selfish manner and do whatever they want? Because they know they can. Experience tells them that there will be no negative consequences for their actions, only rewards. They know that the other person will cave in and never hold the line. The truth is we are constantly training others how to treat us by what we allow and deny. Don’t blame your kids or partner for behaving badly if you inadvertently reward that behaviour and never teach them that it’s wrong. (by the way complaining about it is not teaching them to stop it… you have to learn to take back the power and say no)

Life, happiness, success, growth, meaning, great relationships etc are all found when we live in an empowered state and fiercely hang onto responsibility and choice in our own life. God created us with the ability to make real choices and it was Him who gave us the power to affect the results we get in life.

There is no spiritual formation without personal formation. If you want to grow close to God, take an inventory of where you are choosing to disempower yourself and make a plan to take back your power. Yes it may be costly, but in the long run it will be far less costly than the price you are currently paying in any area of your life where you are disempowered.

Author's Bio: 

For over 14 years Jaemin has been actively helping people bring about change in their lives through coaching, mentoring and various leadership roles. Jaemin is a gifted communicator with a genuine desire to see people grow and flourish in life.) He has a passion for helping people achieve holistic success in work, relationships and personal spheres. Jaemin is the founder of the largest life coaching company in Australia (Frazer, Holmes and Associates.) and has been the senior pastor of Liberty Christian Fellowship for the last 10 years and worked as the school chaplain at Mulwarree Highschool for 2 years. Jaemin has been married to his lovely wife Katherine for 13 years and is a proud father of two young children.