Ways to Increase Your Personal Power
through Emotional Intelligence
by Susan Dunn
MA, Emotional Intelligence Coach and Consultant
Personal Power is an Emotional Intelligence (EQ) competency
you're probably familiar with by another name. It's your
sense of being able to handle yourself and your life. It's
the opposite of the "victim" position, where you feel
helpless and hopeless. Instead, when you've developed your
Personal Power, you feel confidant to help yourself, and to
ask for help when you need it, and you feel positive about
outcomes. You are more willing to take action, and to use
solution-focused problem-solving, instead of
You may have thought when you read the title of this
article, it was referring to your power in the external
world and it is, but this comes only when you have the
Personal Power within. You create your world by your
thoughts and beliefs, and if you feel helpless and hopeless,
you'll create these outcomes. When you have a quiet sense
of Personal Power, you are able to accomplish more, and will
come to say, "If I couldn't do it, nobody could've."
So how do you develop your Personal Power?
function fully until you know yourself, and to
know your SELF is to know your FEELINGS.
We are our emotions and they are there to guide us.
People in the victim position don't know what they think or
feel, and feel they have no rights. Assertiveness is
believing in rights - yours and others. It means treating
others with respect, and yourself as well. The cornerstone
of Emotional Intelligence is self-awareness, and you begin
this by doing an EQ Checkin often during the day. Ask
yourself, "How am I feeling, emotionally, mentally,
physically, and spiritually?"
I've found in teleclasses that most people can talk
immediately about how they feel physically, but don't know
what "mentally," "emotionally," and/or "spiritually" mean,
so I'll define them so you can get started.
HOW DO YOU FEEL MENTALLY?
This refers to your ability to
think. Are you alert? Full of ideas? Sluggish? Unable to
process? If I asked you to do a math problem, or generate
some alternate solutions to a dilemma, how would you do?
This is what "mental" is about - your ability to handle
information, facts, draw conclusions, formulate a thought,
solve a problem, and perform other thought processes.
HOW DO YOU FEEL EMOTIONALLY?
Everyone takes a stab at this
one, but there are two ways to weasel out. One is to say,
"I feel like a wrung-out dishrag," and the other is to say,
"I think I'm exhausted." In the first case, you're begging
out, and in the second case, notice the word "think" was
used, which makes it a mental process. Sometimes we lack
the vocabulary, and emotional expression is part of
Emotional Intelligence. How do you feel EMOTIONALLY? Here
are some answers, and they begin with "I AM" - sad, angry,
frustrated, enraged, discouraged, tired, overwhelmed,
elated, optimistic, or resentful. Of course there are many
others. One thing you can do to increase your Emotional
Intelligence is to learn new words for feelings. Then apply
them to your situation
It's very common to feel "angry," when it contains many
layers. It could be from frustration, fatigue, being too
hot, having had too much caffeine, righteous indignation,
and a range from "annoyed" to "enraged" or "ballistic."
HOW DO YOU FEEL SPIRITUALLY?
How you answer this depends
upon your understanding of a higher power in your life.
Some people answer this with "I don't know." Others will
say, "I'm very attuned with nature today. I had a long walk
with my dog," while others will say, "I feel very connected
to those around me. Very warm and loved." You could also
say, "Close to God" or "I feel good about life and myself."
Most of us recognize a deeper level in our lives, be it
through religion, spirituality, art, culture, music, poetry
or nature. Being able to answer "How do you feel
spiritually?" may take some work on your part,
but then so
may the others.
Being able to answer these four questions gets you centered
on yourself. If you've been lacking in Personal Power,
chances are you may have been exercising too much empathy,
or ignoring the feelings of yourself and others, so you are
not in touch with your feelings. You often
don't know what
Once you know how you feel, and what you want, you have a
good chance of getting it! This has nothing to do with
manipulation, by the way, nor is it heavy-handed power
plays, forcing others to do what we want. Intimidating
others with words, threats or body language is bullying.
People do this who have an exaggerated opinion of their own
rights vs. those of others. What's confusing is that these
tactics work . in the short-term and temporarily. A
demanding, intimidating person may be able to get what she
wants once, or in limited circumstances or vis a vis other
people with no Personal Power, but in the long run, people
will avoid, disrespect, or avoid her in the future.
Feeling your Personal Power and behaving in an appropriately
assertive manner allows other to respect you. It means
stating your position with clarity and confidence. It
relieves stress in your life because you cease tolerating
behavior that's offensive or that drains your energy. At
the same time, it increases your chances of getting what you
want, because first you must ask. You might ask for more
intimacy or more money, less work or less noise, or some
acknowledgement and some appreciation.
In order to claim your Personal Power, you need to have
self-respect. This is something you accomplish; it doesn't
just happen. It means learning to truly love and value
yourself, albeit a work-in-progress. With Personal Power,
you ARE, you don't DO. If you demand respect from someone,
you may get it - temporarily, reluctantly and with confusion
(because the other person senses you don't respect yourself)
and therefore they don't know how to give it to you. On the
other hand, when you are clear about who you are and how you
expect to be treated, it will happen.
Each time you fail to stand up for yourself, and treat
yourself poorly, or let others do so, you will lose ground
you've gained. Again, it's a constant process. Eventually
it becomes automatic and part of you, but it takes time, and
you will backslide. Each time you do, process your
feelings. How were you feeling beforehand? How did you
feel afterward? Would you be willing to change your
behavior so you don't feel bad? (Yes!)
During the learning process you have to be patient with
yourself, and also mindful. You have to be able to catch
yourself immediately the minute you slip. If you entertain
even the thought of "I'm an idiot," erase it. Replace it
with something positive. With time, only positive thoughts
will enter your self-talk, but only if you're mindful about
what you say to yourself.
Here are some of the ways you can command respect:
Knowing your values and having standards, and behaving in them
How you treat yourself. If you're willing to abuse
yourself, others will join right in.
Keeping good boundaries. Become committed to living your
life with joy, assertiveness and productivity, and refuse to
engage with people (even with family!) that can't support this approach.
Watch your posture, eye contact, walk, and how you hold
your head and shoulders.
Make your SELF known - have opinions, state them, take
part in conversations, be present and fully engaged.
Acknowledge compliments graciously. Say "thank you,"
instead of, "Oh, it really wasn't much."
Stop cross-thinking, i.e., did I say or do the right
thing? Learn to develop your intuition (an EQ competency),
and to go with it and trust it. With practice, you'll act
naturally and spontaneously, and stop questioning yourself
at every turn. Others will respond to this.
Eliminate complaining and worrying. They accomplish
nothing except to drag you down, and make others think less of you.
Use solution-focused problem-solving, not emotion-focused
How to get started?
Commit to a structured learning
Take The EQ Foundation Course. It's available on
the Internet and will give you the theory. Then work with a
certified EQ Coach. You need time, practice and feedback to
change social and emotional skills. You cannot JUST read
about it. Then take action. Put into practice what you're
learning. With time, you can make great changes!
Susan Dunn, MA, Emotional Intelligence Coach and Consultant,
susandunn.cc. Offering coaching,
business programs, Internet courses, teleclasses, ebooks,
and EQ coach training and certification, and The EQ
Foundation Course(c). Mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org for
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