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Understanding Personal Power: What Are You Capable Of?

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  • Do you have a good appreciation of your own strengths and capabilities?
  • Do you feel in control of your own destiny?
  • Are you self-confident enough to understand your personal power and to use it to accomplish what you want with it?

Or are you held up by negative self-talk and personal doubts? Perhaps you avoid talking about the future altogether?

If you’ve read my previous articles on emotional intelligence, then you’ll know how important self-awareness is as a foundation for becoming more emotionally intelligent.

Understanding your personal power and what you’re capable of is a key component of this.

In this article, we look at how to recognise your own level of self-confidence and some steps you can take to raise it over time – on your road to becoming more emotionally intelligent.

How strong is your sense of personal power?


Life is never easy, is it? But why do some people seem better able to overcome the challenges and end up in control of their destiny

It comes down to a sense of their own personal power.

Such people are no shrinking violets. A strong sense of personal power means they are self-confident and seem assured, without being over-confident.

They know what they are capable of and do not shy away from taking the steps to get there nor the conversations they need to have to help them along the way.

But remember, we are talking about this in the context of emotional intelligence – so it’s certainly NOT about being single-minded, selfish, and achieving your goals at the expense of others.

It’s simply about seeking what you want truthfully, sincerely, assertively, and appropriately.

Positive tell-tale signs of self-confidence...

How can you recognise people with a strong sense of their own worth and personal power in everyday situations?
Well, they will:

  • Be clear on who they are, what they want, and how to get it

  • Have a strong presence even in difficult situations

  • Seem to get what they want – but not at the expense of others

  • Believe that they are in control and can get the outcomes they desire

  • Have purpose, direction, and goals in life

  • Accept the few aspects of their lives that are out of their immediate control

  • Understand their worth not in material terms but from the inside out 

  • Appear successful but do not measure their own success on purely professional terms - promotions, job titles, etc.

  • Value creativity and personal achievement more than outward displays of success

  • Seem to be able to make things happen when others are stuck in a corner

  • Are not scared to express views that are against the ‘common flow’ of ideas about a topic

  • Do things because they feel they’re right – not just because others do them

  • Are confident in their decision-making, even when the pressure is on


Signs that you may need to work on your personal power...


If you find yourself doing any of the following, you may need to work on developing your sense of personal worth and capability:

  • Censoring yourself by not expressing views that may be deemed as unpopular

  • Avoiding confrontations rather than speaking what’s on your mind

  • Avoiding pressure situations because of lack of confidence in your own decision-making

  • Rarely questioning people in positions of authority

  • Doubting your own judgement frequently

  • Scraping the surface of problems and concerns and not getting to the root causes

  • Shutting yourself off to new experiences and avoiding new challenges

  • Having trouble in backing up your thoughts, ideas, or opinions

  • Doubting your own ability

  • Feeling helpless – like a victim

  • Experiencing difficulty in commanding respect from others

  • Doing things because others do them – even if they seem wrong


How to develop your sense of personal power


Your personal power and greater self-confidence will come as you develop more self-awareness.

As you understand more about your strengths and weaknesses, and are able to accurately self-assess, there will be fewer surprises lurking.

You will start to feel that you are exerting more control over your decisions and this will lead to better outcomes, which in turn will feed your confidence.

It is a positive cycle of growth that comes from self-reflection and greater awareness.

Following are a few ideas to help you along this cycle:

  • Create time for positive self-reflection – focus on what you’ve achieved so far and what you’re good at. Revisit situations where you have been successful and analyse how you got there and how it made you feel?

  • Chase out negative thoughts – learn to recognise when negative, self-defeating talk starts – and nip it in the bud with some positive thinking techniques.

  • Set goals – consider what you want to achieve and this will give you some targets to aim for; break them up into smaller goals and then every little ‘success story’ will help you see your achievements positively and build more confidence.

  • Make commitments and keep them – the more you stick to your ‘plan’ the more confident you will become on the road ahead. When you make a commitment, stick to it.

  • Give yourself a physical makeover – you may want to herald the new ‘you’ with a new look. Although personal power works from the inside out, a little focus on your physical appearance from time to time doesn’t hurt.


Your sense of personal power doesn’t appear overnight, of course.

It is something you build over time and, as mentioned, is closely connected to other aspects of self-awareness.

By working on your sense of personal power, you will create a strong foundation for a new, more confident you that is ready to tackle the challenges of becoming a more emotionally intelligent individual.

Ushma Dhanak

Ushma Dhanak

Social & Emotional Intelligence Coach & Trainer


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