How to hold on to personal power in tough times

How to hold on to personal power in tough times

Personal power in 2020 – does it still exist?

There’s been a lot to deal with in 2020, to put it mildly. When we see the world in chaos, and power in the hands of those we don’t trust or agree with, it’s easy to think we have no personal power of our own.

Elections, coronavirus, war, division, climate crisis, loneliness and social isolation, financial hardship and much, much more – it’s no wonder many people are struggling right now and feeling powerless.

Whatever the outcome of the different things that are happening at the moment, not least in the political arena, we do each have our own personal power – and perhaps more than we think.

For example, as individuals, we can choose who we spend our money with, how we take care of our local environment, the words we use, what we choose to eat, how we take care of ourselves… It may seem very little in the face of such huge challenges in the world, but it is something we can hold on to – for ourselves.

I think the most difficult thing for many people right now though is anxiety. How can we stop anxious thoughts running away with us and dragging us down? The clutter of all the what-ifs and whys in our head can feel overwhelming.

Here’s something I’ve learned from my own experience that can help us take charge of that ceaseless ‘noise’.

How to hold on to your personal power in tough times

When someone I loved died very suddenly one night several years ago, the shock and confusion were utterly debilitating. I had endless questions that could never be answered. The words and the images that kept playing over and over and over in my head were awful. I couldn’t shut them up, and I felt as though they were taking over my life. I reached a point where I realised I had to change the narrative – for my own sanity.

I had to accept that I would probably never know the answers to many of the questions I had. I also had to change the images in the ‘film’ that kept playing over and over in my mind – the film of what had happened and the film I was creating about what was to come.

Essentially, I had to reframe what had happened, otherwise I may not have found a way forward. I also had to stop trying to figure out why it had happened and find a way to accept that it had happened – because fighting it was exhausting.

I also had to find some meaning in it – and it didn’t matter whether the meaning was ‘correct’; I just needed to decide what this whole thing could teach me and then stick with that, so I could start to heal.

It helped a lot. Bit by bit the film on the playback loop started to ease and become less painful. I started to replace some of those images with others – and accept that I may never know why this had all happened. In a way, it gave me a springboard into my future and allowed me to move forward with deeper wisdom and strength.

Make a conscious choice to change the script

So if you’re dealing with something really difficult right now that is hard to understand, as so many people are, and if you have something playing over and over in your mind that’s driving you to distraction, make a conscious choice to start changing the script and changing the images – one at a time.

Even if we’re dealing with a situation we cannot change, it’s vital to remember that we do still have personal power. We can choose small things to do each day to be able to step forward. These small actions can become part of a routine that then, in turn, reminds us of our personal power. We can avoid the news first thing, for example, pause and breathe deeply when things feel overwhelming, be more conscious about the thoughts in our head, change the words we’re hearing ourselves think and change the images our mind is projecting – even if it’s just one word and one image at a time.

Don’t believe ANYthing you think – in this 15-minute TED talk, Murielle Marie highlights why it’s vital that we question everything we think and why our assumptions can be so flawed.

How to plan ahead when the future is unknown


  1. Joan Rask 12 months ago

    This is so right and so well written/said. Thank you Angela for making it so easy to see. I recognize the process for myself and agree.

    • Author
      Angela Sherman 12 months ago

      Thanks for your comment, Joan. I’m so glad it resonated with you. As you say, it’s a process – and it can feel like a long journey when the path ahead is unclear, but changing our thoughts, little by little, can help. Thanks again.

  2. Eleanor Smith 11 months ago

    Thank you for sharing so openly, Angela. Nicely written. The point about small actions and personal power really resonate with me. There is a lot we can actually do to deal with worry and anxiety. Take care.

    • Author
      Angela Sherman 11 months ago

      Thanks for your comment, Eleanor. Yes, I think small actions can have more power than we think, and help us take simple steps forward when things feel overwhelming.

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