Dear Lucy: There are some people who make me feel so small when I am around them. I don't know why but I just want to disappear. I never feel like I could ever be as smart or successful as them and I just lose my power when I am around them. I really need to get over this because it makes me feel like I am weak! Any advice? – Power Leak
Dear Power Leak: I just love that description. If we all told the truth, we would admit that no matter how cool we think we are, there is some situation or person that causes us to leak our power.
Some people actually live with people for whom they consistently leak away their power. It can be done with a certain look, a word or a gesture. When I was a child and would misbehave in church, my mother could give me that special look and I would not only go weak in the knees but immediately sit up straight and behave.
That was an intentional and effective unplugging of my power. I knew what would happen if I didn't straighten up! This was my mother's use of legitimate power to keep me straight. As I grew older, she would use it and of course it no longer meant anything to me except a good laugh. Why? My power no longer came entirely from her approval.
So, a first question to ask yourself is why you want or need these people to approve of you? The second question is "why is it not enough to just honestly admire them for whatever reason and let it stop at that?"
And thirdly, why don't you just approve yourself?
I think this is often all about self-esteem. Not the kind where we have to be as good as or better than someone else just to feel good about ourselves. I am speaking of the self-esteem that allows me to hold myself in high regard and with love and respect without comparing myself, talking down to myself or scolding myself for not measuring up to another person. This is the self-esteem that takes a lot of work and discipline.
Why? Because criticism from ourselves is the first and most deadly. We will talk to ourselves about ourselves worse than we will ever allow another person to do. Learn to honestly appraise yourself and own and value your gifts and talents. We all have some.
Oh, and just in case you want to think you are innocent, please know that there is probably someone that you intentionally make feel less than good enough. It is human nature especially when we are in the habit of leaking away our own power to something or someone. Think about that.
Here is the deal, no one can disempower you without your permission. I respect the Queen of England. I respect Beyonce's talent and money. I truly respect and admire President Obama. Would I feel less than who I am or want to disappear in their presence? No! They work hard to do what they do and I know nothing of their internal or private struggles. But I know that we all have them.
I also know that success at anything requires work and discipline..."here a little, there a little." Start today with that one little thing that you have been putting off doing that you know will make you proud to be you. Go on. Do it.
(For help with the feelings that get in the way of prayer and peace of mind, get Lucy's new book, "BE NOT ANXIOUS." Order it directly from her at 901-907-0260 or go to her web site www.heartworks4u.com.)