Power is a funny thing, because the times where we feel like we have the least amounts of it are the moments where we arguably have the most of it. We simply need to understand how to best use that power and awaken the will within ourselves to move the mountains we are here to move.

Here are ten ways we often give away our power, and next week we’re continuing this mini-series with five ways to bring power back into your hands and that beautiful heart of yours.

1.) Ask others, “What do you think of this?” all the time.

Rather than going within first, we sometimes turn to things and people outside of ourselves to help us best understand what to do. What happens though, is we give away our fundamental right to choose by giving others the power to do that for us. Are we looking for another opinion or are we looking for the surety that we won’t feel bad after it’s all said and done? Making the shift from consultations to announcements about your life is tricky at first, but it’s so beautiful once you get there.

Cheryl Costello- 10 Ways We Give Away Our Power

2.) Spend all our “free time” staying busy.

I volunteer. A lot. Not to mention that I have a day job that I adore and pour my heart and soul into. When I’m the least empowered to move and make choices in my life, I look to how busy I am with the things that matter and how occupied my time and energy become with things that won’t matter a week or two from now. The difference is enormous.

3.) Believe that you’re the reason why someone feels negative emotion.

Though we may think we’re being compassionate by asking whether or not someone is upset because of us, what we’re really doing is robbing ourselves and others the opportunity to own their feelings. It took me a long time to learn that it was completely okay to ask how someone was doing, but to believe that something about me brought out specific behaviors in them, robs me of my power because it means I’m busy managing their life. It also serves as a clever distraction so that we never have to acknowledge how much we’re hurting on the inside, or that we need to make changes we need to. It is compassion’s clever wrapping paper, that can hide so much pain and feelings of powerlessness. I believe in the healing powers of compassion but I also believe in the ways we sometimes use it to keep ourselves one peg below the rest, as though we felt safe and guarded therein.

4.) Spending more time complaining about something than solving the issue.

Have you spent as much time looking for solution as you have telling everyone about the problem? I ask myself that often because if I haven’t been searching for solutions, I know my energy and freedom is being brought down a few notches by virtue of staying in a place of inaction about something important to me.

5.) Feel obligated to others; Hang out with people who drain you and care about what others think of you.

I’ve had to remind myself many times over that even if I have an appointment with a person or a night out scheduled, life is allowed to happen. I’m not talking about disrespecting others’ time, but rather understanding that you are always free to change your mind if another option makes more sense. Moreover, doing anything out of obligation dulls our senses and closes our heart to the possibility that could otherwise arise in an interaction with someone and when we commit to truly “showing up” to life, anything less than that presence cheats us out of a rich experience. I still get caught up in wanting to make sure that everyone around me is happy and that I don’t disrupt the peace but there comes a time where you have to ask yourself what the personal price is when you have to give up your power to do so.

6.) Abuse the word “hustle” and yourself in the process.

There are few things that feel as rewarding as being exhausted from a day of putting in your best. Some nights I’ve gotten about 4 hours of sleep and did that for a few months because of the projects I’m working on, and I’ve loved every minute of it. What I had to remember to make time for though, is rest in between. Hustle can go from being your mantra to being your undoing when you don’t take your health into consideration and appreciate everything that beautiful body of yours can do for you. Work hard yes, then work harder, but respect that fine line and highlight it so you know anytime you start abusing yourself in the name of achievement.

7.) Believe that your personal brand is more about achievement and output than reputation.

We all have a personal brand, whether we like it or not. What we do with it is what distinguishes us and draws very visible lines around those sparks that make us so unique. When we believe though, that who we are and how others perceive us in the world is more about what we achieve than anything else, we may feel powerful for a moment, but we get stuck in a cycle. It repeats itself over and over because no amount of success is enough when we don’t come from an empowered place to start. Standing in our power and taking radical ownership of our life

8.) Eat crappy food.

Yes, we are all busy in this sometimes insane world, but the less we take care of our bodies and put nourishing foods into it, the less able we are to think clearly. Years down the road too, we hand over our power by paying the price for poorly maintaining these wondrous temples our souls reside in. I would much rather spend my 50th birthday dancing and celebrating, rather than counting the number of pain pills and blood pressure medications I have to take each day to ensure that I don’t fall into poor health. There is so much freedom and power in being able to say that I wake up every day and make choices based on what I want to do, rather than what my body is letting me do after feeding it in certain ways over the years. We may not believe it now, but the actions we take today, shape how much power we will have tomorrow, and this is so true of taking care of our bodies.

9.) Not know exactly why you’re doing something.

There will be times we have to remind ourselves of why we’re doing something related to our big obligations like family, work, etc. because they make up our every day and we can lose that sense of why in the mundane nature of it. When we don’t know why we’re doing something though, and spend no time revisiting our reasoning behind the actions we do regularly, we give up our power to some unseen force. It is the thing which dulls our spark so much that we don’t notice because it’s gradual. I’ve encountered some people who joked about how seriously I take this, in that I find it hard for unconscious activity to exist in any capacity in my life. If I don’t know why I’m doing it or why a person is there and the investment of time doesn’t match the dedication I’m giving its presence, I shuffle it to a lower priority. The most powerful and alive I’ve ever felt is being able to look at my agenda and my day-to-day, understanding exactly why it’s there and what purpose it plays in my life, because there is an energetic consequence to everything; Whether it’s good or bad is determined by our examination and placement of it.

10.) Forget that “no” is a complete sentence.

It’s taken me a long time to understand all the implications of this but now that I have, anytime someone doesn’t take my “No” seriously, I move on. Consent isn’t just about what happens with sexuality, but so many other areas of our lives. If someone pokes and prods long after you’ve said no, chances are it’s not because they don’t understand why your no is there, but because they don’t respect you enough to listen to and heed it. There are times where you don’t have to explain or justify your reasoning behind something, because your disinterest in doing it should be enough for the world around you. Remember this before giving away any of your precious power to the formulation of an explanation for someone who doesn’t care enough to respect your boundaries.

This week, try changing at least one of these behaviors and watch your experience of personal power shift. It’s true that we can’t change everything, but if we take a few steps to recognize how we give our power away, we begin the process of standing tall in our lives, with roots so deep that even strong winds cannot shake us.

Cheryl Costello- 10 Ways We Give Away Our Power

Love, Light and Miracles,


About the Author

Cheryl Costello is the founder of The Finding Hearts Project, also writes for the Brampton Focus and formerly wrote at The Loving Instant. She has also worked with Fortune 500 and Financial Post 500 companies to bring greater attention, awareness and action for LGBTQ+ issues, giving the community a powerful voice. She has conducted workshops for LGBTQ+ students on the power of reclaiming their power through owning the stories they tell and was also a Keynote speaker at a Toronto World Pride event in 2014. If she isn't writing or organizing in the community, she's out with her camera, wandering a bookstore or out hiking among trees and water. Have a question you want to see answered on the blog? Stop by her page on Instagram, join in the good vibes and send her a message: @cherylalisoncostello