Everyone encounters seemingly impossible situations.
These are situations where it really feels like you are powerless. Your hands are tied. Like, no matter what you do, it’s not going to turn out how you want it.
Usually those situations carry emotional intensity. And, let’s be honest, that emotional intensity is probably blinding for anyone, to some degree.
That makes it hard to see that there is a way be in a position of power.
**Sidenote: If you are in the heat of that intensity right now, you might not love what I have to say here. You might want to feel right instead. Justified that the situation is impossible. I get it. When I’m upset, I want that too. But when you are calmer, read what I have to say below.
Take a situation in your life and see which one might apply so you can shift toward having some power.
The shift has to start with your willingness to find a way for the situation to be better.
Once you have that willingness, consider these 3 ways you can make a shift:
ONE: How you choose to act is about you, not about them.
The reason to act in a respectful way toward someone is not necessarily because you think they deserve your respect. You act in a respectful way because you are a person who treats people respectfully. This has little to do with them. It has to do with you.
For example: Your co-parent (your ex and you guys have kids) is not communicating fully or not responding to messages about parenting. This gets under your skin. The time comes where you would normally need to communicate something to them and you are tempted to leave them hanging out to dry as they do to you. You choose instead to handle things as you have agreed to (clearly and fully when it comes to parenting) rather than just reacting to how they have been handling things.
When you handle things in a way that is aligned with WHO YOU ARE, not in a way that is a reaction to how someone else is being, then you are in a power position. You have nothing to apologize for. There is nothing critical the other person could say if you are in integrity with your values.
TWO: Consider what IS in your control: your thoughts, your behaviors, your words and whether or not you are physically present.
Yes, there are going to be situations where it really feels like you are backed into a corner. Focusing on where you DO have power and control can be one strategy for making it through the hell of the situation.
This is a life preserver in the storm. You might not FEEL like focusing your attention on these things. It might be way easier to be pissed off that you are in an impossible situation. However, you will be doing yourself a favor if you do that difficult u-turn and start thinking about the small ways you can have control.
THREE: Find ways for there to be choice and natural consequences.
Usually when you feel like you are powerless in a situation, anger is present. As we know, anger is a messenger that lets us know a boundary has been crossed. What is happening is not OK with you. Once you are clear about what boundary was crossed, you can let people know your boundary and act in accordance with that boundary. They get to choose how they are going to interact with that boundary.
Let’s look at an example:
When dogs pull on the leash during a walk outside, one instruction from dog trainers is to stop walking. Natural instinct or feelings of frustration make you want to pull the dog back. Instead, you can use your power and stop walking.
The idea is that the dog will learn to come back to your side because that is how they get to move forward again. They want to move forward, that is why they are pulling. So, if you stop forward motion when they pull, they figure out they can’t get where they want to go by pulling. At first, those walks are annoying. You might have to stop 100 times. But the work on the front end, holding that boundary of “we won’t move forward until you are by my side”, will be worth all the pleasant walks that come after that boundary is understood.
The key is to look inside of you and shift your focus to what is within your locus of control.
Find where you might be allowing things that are not OK with you and shift toward upholding your boundaries. The consequence will be that the other person (or animal) will not be able to continue with their agenda in their relationship to you.
These boundaries can be tedious or scary to uphold. However, hoping and wishing that someone will change after you have already asked them a million times is usually a fruitless venture. So, you can also use your power to manage the discomfort of the fear or the tedious nature of boundary holding.