How to Get More Power — The Promise of Full Accountability


After our last piece, a couple of you wrote in with some really important comments. You shared that you weren’t going to take the “guilt” or “blame” for the crappy actions of the crappy people in your life.

I read back through the piece and didn’t see “guilt” or “blame” anywhere.  Phew!

Still, I’ve thought a lot about how I could have written the piece more clearly.  Of course, I found a GAZILLION changes I could make, but essentially the basic idea is there.

Which are you?  Victim?  Or, Volunteer? (click to tweet)

If you’re struggling through it with me, I hear you.  I didn’t get the concept of this piece for the longest time, either.  When wiser women would try and tell me I was responsible for everything that STAYED in my life (not HAPPENED IN MY LIFE, but the stuff that STAYED), I would get angry, too.

Indignant even.

Here was my thinking, “How dare you suggest that I-I-I was to BLAME for other people’s crappy behavior!

But, that’s NOT what those women were saying to me.

If you can, suspend your initial defensive reaction to this idea and consider this (with a completely open mind):

You don’t have to receive the guilt and the blame and the hurt that you THINK someone else is dishing your way.  Nobody has the power to “make you feel” anyway. (This includes ME, by the way.)  Your feelings of guilt or shame or anger or joy or elation or gratitude are all yours, love.

It is ALL your choice.

Other people don’t have the power to make you feel ANYTHING.  Please own that.  (click to tweet.)

Because that is the BEST news EVER!  It means you’re not TRAPPED in any situation. You have choices about how you feel, how you respond, and what you decide to do next.

PLUS there’s this — since we get to choose ALL of our feelings, that means you can CHOOSE to be JOYFUL.  All you have to do to be joyful is to DECIDE to be joyful and keep reminding yourself that that is your choice when the darker feelings creep back in.

And here’s where you get your ninja warrior goddess stones — Can you decide to be joyful EVEN when crappy stuff is happening all around you?

Here’s one reframe of your circumstances that might help:

Sometimes I stayed in really crappy or painful situations because it was the LEAST CRAPPY OR PAINFUL option I felt I had at the time.

If you are in a situation because it is the least crappy option available to you right now, you are being absolutely brilliantly strategic.

Except for this — if you have made the decision to protect yourself by staying in the least crappy situation currently at your disposal, THEN why not take on an attitude of celebration?

Why not CHOOSE to celebrate that you are savvy enough to look at all your options and pick the best option that is available at the time?

And then, instead of feeling dread or remorse or resentment each day you are in your crappy situation, why not approach it with your new-found wisdom and self-regard? Why not celebrate that you are smart enough to take care of yourself and those you love in the least crappy way possible?

At the same time you do this – choose to live with gratitude for all that you already have.


Take FULL responsibility for getting the skills or training or support or recovery or whatever you need to do to prepare yourself to receive something better.

When it comes along, you’ll be ready.

And here’s a bonus:  When you push yourself to grow, you get the feeling that you like yourself.  That you are WORTHY of high regard.

If you want self-esteem, do estimable things! (click to tweet)

Here’s how to get started on that growth part because here’s where the actual work comes in (and the incredible gift of freedom that comes with it):  Can you be in that seemingly untenable situation WITHOUT getting bitter or jaded? Can you take that chip off your shoulder???

When you accept that STAYING in something that isn’t the best situation is STILL YOUR CHOICE, and I mean FULLY accept it — without fighting or recrimination — then you have found the first step in learning to be comfortable in an uncomfortable situation.

The only way out is through.  That’s “THROUGH” as in “NOT STUCK” or stagnate.

So keep moving.  Keep your heart open.  Work on the stuff that is on your side of the street.  Look for gratitude and deep appreciation no matter what your circumstances.

Not because THEY deserve it.

But, because YOU do.

* * *

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photo: flickr, jdhancock

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10 Responses to How to Get More Power — The Promise of Full Accountability

  1. I loved the moment for myself when I realized that I didn’t have to even let the abusive asshole that lives inside my head affect how I felt about myself! It’s so liberating to say “umm… I disagree asshole – you are trying to make me feel crappy but I am not going to let you!” LIBERATION! Thanks for keeping it real “woman in the woods” lol!

  2. Laura says:

    Yup, I get this and I’ve done it and I must say that it takes WORK – inner work, over and over again. It’s difficult but not impossible. Thanks Jen!

  3. vicki says:

    yep. 🙂

  4. Mary says:

    As a school counselor, I always advised my students that happiness comes from the inside out, not the outside in. In my own personal life, I often have to work pretty hard at remebering that. The inner voice gets in the way. She needs to be quiet!

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi, Mary. I hear you. I let her talk, and then I just go on about my day. Not always. But, mostly. I’m so happy you took time to connect. Thank you, love.

  5. Ellen says:

    “If bad stuff keeps “happening” to you (btw, you DO hear that weak, passive language, right?), at some point – preferably sooner rather than later – you will benefit from a good hard gaze in the mirror. (Put your bifocals on so you can really see yourself clearly.)
    YOU are at the heart of everything that happens in your life.
    If people are hurtful to you, please ask yourself why you attract bullies.
    If everyone else is getting ahead at work, please ask yourself what skills, behaviors, habits, and personal character traits they have that you don’t.
    If you thought you would be “farther along” by this point in your life, please ask yourself what you are doing that holds you back.”

    You’re right, Jennifer, you don’t use the words “guilt” or “blame,” but you certainly imply them. Please don’t dance around your intended meaning with the, “I didn’t see ‘guilt’ or ‘blame’ anywhere” stuff. The insinuation in those words is that we who have suffered those things are to “blame.” Did I choose to stay in a difficult situation? Damn straight! Because I knew the truth would come out in the end – I was determined to win and win I did! Not by blaming myself, because I wasn’t the problem. But by holding fast to my character and integrity, being exactly who I was and still am, knowing the truth of my abilities, and having the patience and perseverance to outlast those whose lack of ability was shrouded in their constant yet subtle denigration of others.

    Did I enjoy it? No. Did I wallow in self-pity? No. Did I rejoice at their downfall? No, not even that. I wished – and still wish- them well. Because that’s who I am – and always have been. A person of character and integrity. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger and I am superwoman!

  6. Angie says:

    I have struggled with the ‘no one can make u feel’ bit since I first heard of it oh a year and a half or so. I mean I’m 30 years old and literally getting gray hairs from the stress of my life. So I made a big move, changed my situation and guess what…still stressed! (I am smiling as I type this, because I can see the humor in it, the beautiful madness.) All of the feelings I was feeling in my crappy situation have followed, because the only way truly out is through. I don’t regret a thing. It is a blessing disguised as a lesson. Some things really are best learned the hard way. No amount of beautiful wisdom and guidance could keep me from tripping on that pothole, but I am so grateful to know I am not alone. I can honestly say I still struggle with acting out the choice between positive/negative perspective, mood, emotion, etc, but I am incredibly grateful that now I recognize the choice is there. Baby steps. I’m also grateful to be (mostly, eventually) free of the resentment towards the one who ’caused’ so much stress, because it was really me and my surrender to the freeze-flight-fight instinct that blocked my ability to connect with my true self. I gave away my power. A victim volunteer. The amazing thing is that I can take and am taking my power back and it is greater now than ever before.

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