As many of you know, I’ve been on quite a little journey of self-discovery over the past twelve months. I worked hard to forget past hurts and discover what makes me happy. In fact, at the moment, my heart is so filled with joy that I may burst.
Our journey through the Rules of Self-Love ends today with a great piece of advice: Take Back Your Power. If anything, this was the best piece of advice I received during this year-long journey. I have often wondered why it wasn’t the first rule, because frankly, it was the one step that empowered me the most. As I realized, I had to work on the other rules first before coming to this one. All the different rules helped me gain footing and empowered me along the way. Each rule I employed gave me back some power until now; in the end, I can say that I have learned not to give away my strength again.
So, I’ll share some of the ways I learned to take back my power over this journey, and I’m sure that you may have some of your own to add.
- I forgave past hurts. I forgave my ex-husband for behavior that I don’t think he is capable of changing. I forgave my now-relationship=guy (what do we say at almost 50? Boyfriend? That seems so adolescent-ish-y) for things that happened nearly 30 years ago. I excused myself from making decisions out of fear. I just decided that I would start all over with everyone in my life with a clean slate on October 1st last year.
- I cut people out of my life. Since I decided to give everyone a clean slate and forgive past hurts, I also permitted myself to use tools at my disposal to protect my life from energy vampires. If I wouldn’t sit down with them to have a cup of coffee face to face, they didn’t deserve to be on my friends’ list on Fakebook. I permanently blocked numbers on my phone and Messenger. I even went so far as to write “Return to sender” on a letter I received – never opening it or giving one fuck what it said.
- I got my financial house in order. I’m fortunate to have a job now that pays me more than I really need. But that was not always the case. The last three years, I’ve scraped by wondering why I was stupid enough to leave a job that paid me very, very well. But I realized now that I had to live like that for a while to learn how to budget, save, say “no” to things I didn’t need. Once I got my new job nearly one year ago, I knew I couldn’t spend money the way I had in the past. I set up my 401(K). I set up another fund for emergencies. I worked with my attorney to develop an estate plan to protect my son and provide for him should I die.
- I saved for, and took, a vacation all alone. I used to travel with my job as a consultant a lot so traveling alone wasn’t the issue. Traveling alone with no plans at all was strange – and exciting. Google maps told me it would take me ten hours-ish to get to Perdido Keys. It took me 16. I meandered my way through Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. If I hadn’t, I might have missed meeting the person who has inspired my novel because ‘Jake” was a stranger I met while eating fried catfish in Bay Springs, MS. I slept a lot, soaked up the sun, listened to the waves, ate a shit-ton of shrimp and watermelon (to the point that I haven’t eaten shrimp since), and did it all by myself. I can’t wait for my next adventure.
- I scheduled a photo shoot with Cory Powell. And I am so glad I did this. I dropped a bit of cash on myself to see if I could see myself through the lens of someone else (Pun, much?) instead of my own distorted view. I asked him to not jack with the proofs much. I wanted to see each wrinkle, the pooch of my tummy, the color of my eyes. It was probably the single-most empowering thing I did for myself.
- I focused on my mental health. I’ve mentioned before that I battle generalized anxiety disorder, which, if left to its own devices, can spiral into depression. Last year, I hit rock bottom during COVID, and somewhere around mid-October a good friend implored of me to see my doctor. I also looked into some complementary medicine and techniques, including meditation, breathwork, Yin yoga, and regular massage therapy. When I start getting anxious, instead of plowing through, I stop what I’m doing, go sit outside, start my breathing exercises and scan my body for what’s really going on. As with most things that invoke an anxiety attack, I know it’s most likely something I can’t control or something that won’t happen (the basis of GAD is irrational fears), so I can usually find the root cause. Once I find the root cause, I can work through the feeling. Oh. And Xanax. That helps, too.
I believe there is nothing more important in the journey of Self-Love than taking back your power. It will look different for everyone, but I hope my five examples can be a stepping stone for you. I’d love to hear from you about how you plan to take back your power, or if you’ve already done so, then how you did it.