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Five Subtle

(and Not So


Ways We

Give Away

Our Power

And How To Get It Back

· female empowerment,resilience,purpose and power,visibility,Guest Post

Power can be really intimidating. If you're conditioned to fear power, then power can be really scary even when it's yours. It can feel uncomfortable.  

Many of us have a complicated relationship with power. As women, it is not something we are encouraged to seek. Just look at any female politician and the line she has to play between service and ambition. Power is not something we are used to owning. Sometimes we use other words like influence or sway but we avoid the “P” word. 

The truth is we all have power, at least in some aspects of our lives. We can only benefit from owning our power and not shying away from it. 

These are five subtle ways that we give away our power and also how we can get it back. 

I’m familiar with these behaviors because I’ve done them too! 

Number 1: Apologizing

This is a fundamental part of my coaching work. It’s the reason for The Center For Women’s Voice. I help women communicate without apologizing. 

When we chronically apologize for things that are not our fault, we're signaling to the world and ourselves over and over that we're not showing up the way we want to - that we're constantly misstepping. Often we apologize to ask people to excuse our mistakes rather than to own our mistakes.

Apologizing is tricky because saying “I’m sorry” has become a sort of social lubricant. It’s a way of smoothing things over or making someone else feel comfortable. But still, apologizing often is as good as saying…

“I am not presenting my best self”

“This isn’t my /best work”

“I don’t feel like I belong here”/etc”. 

One of my clients, let’s call her Sally, finds herself in this situation a lot. 

Sally often presents her creative ideas as work. She would find herself telling stories before her pitches, giving caveats such as “I didn't really have enough time to work on this pitch, so it's not where I want it to be, but here's what I have so far". 

Sound familiar? 

All of that apologizing has comes before she even begins to share her ideas. That informs how her co-workers experience her work. Before her hard work is even talked about Sally has set the tone that there is something wrong with what she’s bringing to the table. 

How to Get Your Power Back: 

If you find yourself constantly apologizing, you are giving away your power. 

But you can get it back! 

First pay attention to your apologies, notice when you’re saying “I’m sorry”, and notice when you see other people doing it. 

Next, expand your vocabulary and reframe how you speak in these situations. 

For example:

Instead of: I’m sorry, I have to reschedule.

Try: I appreciate your flexibility. 

Instead of: I’m sorry I’m late. 

Try: Thank you for your patience. 

Instead of: I’m sorry, I didn’t understand what you said.

Try: Could you repeat that?

It’s important to be clear when an actual apology is necessary. 

That depends on your own values. There shouldn’t be a huge range of things you feel you need to apologize for though. Take some time to figure out what yours are. 

When it comes to the other form of apologizing: making excuses or including caveats, try letting your work speak for itself. It’s as simple as that, but it does take practice. Try simply presenting your work or ideas without any kind of precursor, and see how it goes!

Number 2: Not Asking For What You Want, When You Know What You Want

We give away our power when we play mind games instead of asking for what we want. This often manifests in the form of wanting something and knowing what it is but not telling the person who can give it to you because you think it will feel better if they just did it on their own. 

When you do this you put your own happiness or needs in someone else’s hands. Communicating what you want or your desires is not a position of weakness. I think the opposite is true. If you can speak what you need directly, that is powerful. And it increases your chances of actually getting what it is you want. 

Fun, huh? 

This can happen in relationships and in our careers as well. Have you ever thought something along the lines of, I want them to invite me to that meeting but I don't want to say that I want to be there

If you don’t ask for it directly, you are giving away your power. 

How to Get Your Power Back: 

Stay in touch with what you want and know what that looks like in any situation. 

  • If you’re going to a negotiation, know what your best-case scenario would be and know how to articulate that. 
  • If you need more help around the house from your partner, know exactly what it is that you need. 

Take responsibility for what it is you want and need and take the responsibility to ask for it when it is appropriate to do so. 

Number 3: Downplaying Your Skills 

I’ve spoken about this before in my blog Expert Myths. There is a social construct around valuing humility. We are encouraged to not toot our own horns or speak about our accomplishments. 

We put more value on other people considering us an expert rather than owning it ourselves. That designation from others may never come from others, so give it to yourself. 

Look at your own track record and portfolio. Notice where you're adding value on a micro level and over the scope of your career. Stand on that as expertise. 

We sometimes make these arbitrary benchmarks. 

For example, Mariah loves directing and filmmaking is her passion. She’s worked on a feature-length film and made a short film BUT she’s yet to be paid for her craft.

Is Mariah a director? OF COURSE, SHE IS. 

So many of us would label ourselves as amateurs and not own the title of a director because we feel we haven't “earned” it. Because we haven’t been paid to do it. 

Who is deciding this? We can put that label on ourselves. I’m not a director but if I make a short film, you better bet, I’ll call myself a director. You should too!

How to Get Your Power Back: 

Pay attention. 

Notice when you are minimizing your own skills or expertise. The way to reclaim your power is to…stop doing that. Practice owning who you are, what you’ve accomplished, and the impact you have. If it’s hard to see it for yourself, turn to people who know you and ask for their feedback. 

Number 4: Diffusing Your Energy 

There is power in your presence. I define presence as, you showing up to a place to focus on a thing. When we don’t respect that, we can give away our power. 

In my life this shows up as looking at my phone or checking my email right before jumping on a meeting that requires my full attention.

That diffuses my power. 

It is assuming that there is nothing meaningful about me showing up and giving my focus, that it is equivalent to scrolling through my phone. That’s just not true. 

Throughout the day there a moments that are more meaningful and we need to honor that. 

It might not be at work; it could be the way you interact with your child or your partner. If your full focus is not in the moment, your impact is diminished. And your presence is absent.

How to Get Your Power Back: 

Give yourself permission to focus on one thing at a time and practice doing that. Give yourself transition time and buffers. Acknowledge that there is power in your presence and cherish that. 

Number 5: Avoiding Hard Things (Especially When You Have The Most To Gain)

Have you ever talked yourself out of a growth opportunity because you didn’t want to feel disappointment or failure? Then you know what I’m talking about.

There is an element of power connected to resilience. This means we have got to experience friction in order to grow and see what we are made of. Often, this happens without us even choosing it. You fall into hard circumstances and you have got to rise up against them. 

But when there is an element of choice, we shy away from it for fear of rejection, embarrassment, failure, etc. We talk ourselves out of growing, increasing our power, and experiencing what we’re made of. 

You might fail. 

You might get embarrassed. 

Know that, you are capable of moving through difficult emotions. If you feel embarrassed, it won’t last forever. If you feel disappointed, that is not going to last forever either. If you are not afraid to feel hard things, you can do so much more in your life. 

How to Get Your Power Back: 

Reconnect to those moments when you did experience something difficult and you got through it. You can reframe your past efforts and mistakes. Look at it now and see what you learned from it or what path it set you on and where it led. Take time to talk yourself through your fears and break them down with a Fear Setting exercise

Use this mantra: I am not afraid of feeling all the feelings. 

Failure will help you to grow, live your purpose, and impact people. Know that you will be able to move through these difficult moments.

I know that you are a person of purpose and power. The world needs your voice and so do you. Let me know what resonates with you. For more on this topic watch my Instagram Live

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Malika Amandi is a coach, teacher, performer, and feminist. She's worked in the entertainment industry, silicon valley, universities, public elementary schools, non-profits, and the military. She's the creator of The Center for Women's Voice, to teach women to use their voices in the most authentic, powerful and effective way possible. She loves working with smart, woke, independent, professional women because you already have something to say and a reason to say it. With a little bit of guidance and space to practice, Malika knows you will be able to use your voice to move yourself forward in your career. (On a personal note -- Malika is my Visibility Coach. She's helped me to find my voice and use it powerfully, authentically, and compassionately, so that I can really support and empower more people to be able to make decisions NOT based on money.)