Keeping up with the Joneses. A seemingly "harmless" remark from a loved one. The workday that makes us wonder if we are still gainfully employed- all aspects of our daily lives that can send our personal power haywire- assuming it has already been sufficiently developed and nurtured. A solid "inner armor" is an important tool to have in our life arsenal so the challenges we face on a day-to-day basis do not do us in. Harriet Rubin's quote suggests an approach that make the cultivation of personal power within everyone's grasp- let look more closely here at what steps we can take to realize this goal:

Look within yourself- Becoming self-referencing is one of the most important skills we can ever develop in life and it is a key aspect of developing personal power. It is perfectly fine to have friends, spouses, partners and the like, but at the end of the day we have to look within ourselves and become the authority of our own experience. As the saying goes, "we came into this world alone and we will leave alone." Only we can determine our values and priorities; and this task is too important to be delayed or delegated. This "baseline" foundation of inner knowledge moves us along in the process of developing our personal power and serves as the springboard for the next step in this process.

Learn from yourself- Thinking about what we have learned about ourselves per our inner assessment leads us to deeper realizations. For example, it is not enough to notice that we get annoyed every time a particular friend is late every time we plan an outing. At some point it should dawn on us that being on time is important and perhaps may be, in our view, a demonstration of respect for others. So taking note of an experience or an insight that has dawned on us is a good first step. However, in refusing to dig any deeper, such insights are little more than interesting ruminations that cannot propel us forward.

Live the learning- This is often the point where people stumble in their efforts to cultivate and strengthen their personal power. It is so tempting to be "wowed" by the intensity of our insights that we never go beyond this point in our thinking; thus ensuring our lives do not change in response to the new insights we discover about ourselves. Back to our perpetually late friend scenario- let's say she calls to meet for lunch. Inwardly you are still seething from her less than timely arrival the last time you got together. However, you say nothing and agree to meet her as you have before and hope she will be on time. With an interaction as simple as this you may not be aware that your personal power has taken a direct hit, but it actually has. The lesson learned from your past experience (i.e.- that you get annoyed and feel disrespected when your friend is perpetually late for social outings) that flowed from what you have identified as a priority in your personal value system (being on time communicates respect for others) has not yet been integrated into your decision-making.

Resolving this situation may simply warrant bringing your friend's perpetual tardiness to her attention and explaining how it makes you feel. However, do not wail in frustration if your friend is still late. The victory here does not lie in changing your friend's behavior, but in standing up for yourself and your standards of what you consider to be acceptable behavior. This is all you have control over anyway. Ultimately, you can decide whether your friend will remain in the friend "column." But until then you have just broadened your options beyond pacing back and forth with smoke coming out of your ears, and this is an empowering development.

Even if pacing back and forth is the only response we can muster, join the crowd in heading back to square one. We've all been there- repeatedly even. Developing personal power takes time. Reaching for the chocolate cake rather than probing the source of our upset is not necessarily a failure; neither is reluctantly culling the lessons learned from past experiences when we would much rather be swimming in denial. However, each time we take a step away from our conditioned responses and look to ourselves as the source of insight about what matters to us, we have an opportunity to create a new set of results in our lives and increased inner power to boot. We live more and more in our personal power when the truth of our being is reflected in our daily experience. We can then encounter the world from a position of strength that bodes well for creating a satisfying life experience can resist the "winds" of what we encounter everyday. Why not let you be in charge of you?!

Author's Bio: 

DDr. Idara E. Bassey is an Atlanta-based attorney and spiritual counselor. She is author of Reflections of a Mystical Sistah: On Traveling Down the Road to Self-Definition (iUniverse, 2004) and can be reached via her website at