A Spiritual Directive – Avoid Giving Away Your Personal Power

By Don Chapin

Throughout the whole series of books available through buddha-consciousness.org, both implicitly and explicitly, runs a common theme of “do not give away your personal power.” HUH? So what does this mean in the “real world?” How do you translate such a concept into practical living?

As it turns out, a web search turns up articles by Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, who has quite a practical article at inc.com entitled 9 Ways to Avoid Giving Away Your Personal Power. I have borrowed her 9 ways below, but (generally) inserted my own explanation. While in a military life, you typically violate every one of these points to “get along” or comply with the UCMJ (therefore, militarytruth.org), but you can do the same in many civilian situations, as well, particularly in a highly politicized environment…which is not limited to the field of politics.

  1. Don’t waste energy complaining – continually complaining keeps your mind on the problem, not on finding a solution.
  2. Accept responsibility for how you feel – it’s actually completely up to you to manage your emotions, regardless of how other people behave or articulate their feelings.
  3. Establish healthy boundaries – giving in to guilt trips and refusing to speak up for yourself gives power to other people (a direct quote from Morin).
  4. Practice forgiveness – choose to let go of whatever hurt and anger that interferes with your ability to enjoy life, but, going beyond forgiveness, cultivate a deep feeling of gratitude for whatever “lessons” have been provided, pro and con.
  5. Know your values – acknowledge your values and live true to what’s important to you. At one point in my career, I found I could not live with the lax morality of an aerospace company and, despite feelings of financial insecurity, I quit that company’s employ, unknowingly entering a nine-year jobless time period. And, yes, I’d do it again.
  6. Don’t waste time on unproductive thoughts – bemoaning an untenable situation without considering ways and means to resolve the situation is not only a time-waster, but can be hard on your emotions.
  7. Avoid language that implies you’re a victim – “victimhood” is a insidious way to avoid responsibility for your own actions, or lack thereof. “Satan made me do it” is (I believe) a church-promulgated tool simply to allow people to avoid personal responsibility. In my case, my first three years of enlisted military life I quite vocally played “the victim” of ‘lying recruiters’ (and in this opinion, I was simply one of the crowd) until I had to forgive myself for being so gullible and settle down to change the circumstances by re-enlisting to try for a college education, thereby providing a life-threatening shock to the squadron First Sergeant :-).
  8. Make your self-worth independent of other’s opinions – evaluate the merit of criticism you receive, but never allow one person’s opinion to determine your feeling of self-worth… enlisted basic training is primarily aimed at substituting your own sense of self worth for that of “authority,” whomever that is.
  9. Be willing to stand out from the crowd – trying to fit in with the crowd can cause you to disguise who you really are. Dare to be different, not just for the sake of “being different,” but from your inner sense of what’s right for you.
  10. Don’t let other people determine the kind of day you’re going to have – by applying the above principles you can ensure that the day is positive, so it’s up to you to make it a good day despite whatever is happening around (or to) you.


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