10 ways to stop giving people power over you, according to a psychotherapist


JAN 10, 2020, 12:45 AM Business Insider

Don’t give others power over your life.

  • When someone has a negative influence over any aspect of your life, you’re giving them power over you – and that can hold you back.
  • Instead, establish healthy boundaries with the people around you – and assume responsibility for your emotions, not theirs.
  • Follow your values, and realise that you’re always making choices – you should be doing things for you, and not to prove yourself to other people.
  • Don’t spend your time complaining or thinking about bad interactions.

Any time you allow someone to have a negative influence over the way you think, feel, or behave, you give them power over you.

Sometimes it’s subtle. Maybe you change the way you act around certain people because you want to please them, but it doesn’t impact your life too much.

Or maybe it’s major. Perhaps you allow a loved one’s harsh criticism to take a serious toll on your well-being.

Either way, giving away your personal power drains you of the mental strength you need to be your best. Here are 10 ways to stop giving people power over you.

1. Establish healthy boundaries

Whether you have a coworker who wastes your time venting about how much she dislikes her job, or a friend who always asks to borrow money, some people will take your time, money, and space if you allow them to do so. It’s important to set healthy boundaries for yourself.

Say no, speak up, and ask for what you need. When people violate your boundaries, follow through with clear consequences.

2. Take responsibility for your emotions

Don’t blame anyone else for making you feel guilty or making you feel bad about yourself. Take full responsibility for how you feel.

If someone is affecting your emotions in an unhelpful manner, take positive action. Either change the situation, or change how you respond to the situation. Perhaps you decide to walk away and enter a new environment. Or, maybe you decide to take a few deep breaths, practice using some positive self-talk and continue to engage in a difficult conversation.

3. Let other people be responsible for their emotions

On another note, don’t take on responsibility for other people’s emotions. You can’t make everyone happy, and you can’t make anyone mad.

While it’s important to be cognisant of how your actions affect others, it’s not up to you to manage how other people feel.

4. Acknowledge your choices

When you find yourself thinking you have to do something, change your language. You don’t have to go grocery shopping. And you don’t have to take the dog to the vet. These are choices.

Even going to work and paying your bills are choices. Of course, there are consequences if you don’t do these things, but acknowledging you have some say in the matter empowers you to take responsibility for your own life.

5. Live according to your values

You’ll care less about going along with the crowd, and you’ll be less concerned about other people’s opinions when you’re clear on your values. Identify the things that are most important to you, and live accordingly. Whether that means you value your free time, you work long hours, you enjoy hobbies, or you practice your faith, spend time and energy on the things that are important to you. When you are confident in your priorities, other people’s judgments will matter less.

6. Forgive, and move forward

Holding onto a grudge diminishes your life, not anyone else’s. Don’t waste your precious time and energy rehashing your past hurts and trying to punish someone else.

Recognise, however, that forgiveness isn’t about saying what someone did was ok. And it doesn’t mean you have to associate with them. Instead, forgiveness can involve letting go of anger that is keeping you stuck so you can focus on more worthwhile things.

7. Stop trying to prove people wrong

You might feel empowered for a little while when you say, “I’ll show them!” But trying to prove people wrong actually gives them power over you.

Trying to show someone that you’re better than they give you credit for is about them, not you. Work on goals that matter to you. If you surprise people along the way, consider it an added bonus rather than the main objective.

8. Don’t let your self-worth depend on other people’s opinions

If you need approval or affirmation from others that you’re good enough, those individuals will always have power over you. Don’t make your self-worth dependent on anyone else.

Do the things that make you feel like a good person (whether it means going to the gym or volunteering to help others), and your self-worth will be built on a much steadier, more independent foundation.

9. Don’t waste energy complaining

The more time you spend complaining about people, the more space you allow them to occupy in your life. So before you dive into a 20-minute monologue about how much you dislike your boss or how annoying your sister-in-law is, think about the fact that you’ll be devoting more time and energy to them. Choose to use your time and energy on more positive, worthwhile activities.

10. Stop thinking about unhelpful interactions with others

Rehashing conversations and imagining dreadful interactions allows people to take up more of your brain power. While you certainly want to learn from mistakes and plan for the future, don’t ruminate on the hurtful things someone already said or the rude comments they might make in the future.

When you notice these unhelpful scripts playing out in your head, change the channel in your brain. Whether this means you need to get some physical activity or it means talking to a friend about a completely different subject, refuse to focus on people who drag you down.

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