The ABCs of Personal Power

Because our world is changing at an ever increasing rate, many of us are finding that to survive and prosper, we have to continue to learn and adapt fast.

We have no choice.

That’s why being comfortable with change, having a willingness to continually learn, and knowing yourself better have become critical skills in ongoing success.

One key to knowing yourself better is by understanding the ABCs of Personal Power.

Here’s what the A, B, and C stand for…

A. Activating Events. This is the A in the ABCs of personal power. An activating event is anything that exists or occurs around us, outside of our bodies.

B. Belief System. This is the B in the ABCs of personal power. Our belief system is our cumulative memories and experiences from birth. It’s what we “believe”. It’s how we see the world and what we use to process Activating Events.

C. Consequences. This is the C in the ABCs of personal power. These are the consequential feelings and behaviors resulting from the combination of A and B – the activating events and what we did with them after they were processed by our belief system.

Here’s how the ABCs work together…

 A. We register Activating Events with our 5 senses – touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound. Sight takes in more information than all the other senses combined.

 An activating event can be something as simple as being stuck in heavy traffic.

B. After we’ve registered this event, we pass the information through our belief system where we do two things immediately.

First, we label it with language to give it context (it … looks like, sounds like, smells it, tastes like, feels like).

Second, we decide if we can relate to it. We ask ourselves, “have I been stuck in traffic before?”

If the answer is “yes”, that’s because “being stuck in traffic” resides as a previous memory and/or experience in our Belief System – which means we can relate to it.

“I’ve been stuck in traffic before”.

 C. Being stuck triggers a feeling about the heavy traffic.

 In the past, it’s likely that you had one of three feelings when stuck in traffic.

 Positive, neutral, or negative.

 Most of the time, it’s likely you were neutral – especially if you’ve been commuting for years  on the same route. You didn’t waste feelings on it.

A few people might be positive. Since they were slowed or stopped, they got a chance to look at the view. However, this is probably not very common.

More commonly, you can experience negative emotions in slow moving or stopped traffic.

If there is time pressure – such as an important meeting you might be late for – the negative feeling may be frustration, annoyance, anger, or irritation

But, if there is no time pressure to get somewhere, chances are the feeling may be “neutral”.  In other words, no big deal.

This raises an important question.

If you got upset, what upset you?

The traffic?

Or, the way you (and your belief system) interpreted the traffic?

If you said, “the way I interpreted the traffic”, you’re right.

Because traffic is just traffic. Traffic can’t actually upset you.

The thing that upset you is you – specifically, how you interpreted the slow/stopped traffic (activating event) in your Belief system.

If you got upset, it’s because you believe that traffic controls your emotions.

And, this is not true.

It’s easy to test this.

Ask yourself … “Do I get upset every time I am in slow or stopped traffic?”.

Before you answer, consider that “every time” means that there has never been a time when you haven’t been upset in stopped or slow traffic.

If you are honest with yourself, this can’t be true.

Which again proves that traffic can’t upset you.

Only you can upset you.

The logic is inescapable.

Nothing can upset you – unless you choose to get upset.

In the above situation, you were using slow/stopped traffic (the activating event) to upset yourself.

Here’s why this awareness about what controls your emotions is so important when it comes to the ABCs of your Personal Power.

It’s because, in most situations, those who are seen to be in control of their emotions are seen as having more power.

Those who don’t control their emotions are often viewed as being under stress, appear to have less power, and to be a victims of the circumstance.

And, those are the ABCs.