Book Review: Choosing Your Power
“No one woke up this morning to make your life miserable,” writes Dr. Wayne Pernell. And yet many people do feel miserable, as if their life is not going in the right direction, and they are not in the right career, relationship, or city.
Feeling stuck, however, is not the problem. It is what you do when you feel that way.
In his new book, Choosing Your Power: Becoming Who You Deserve to be at Home and in the World, Dr. Wayne Pernell offers the tools, insights, and tips to live a more authentic, balanced, and fulfilling life — even when it seems impossible.
One of the first things we can do is check our thinking. Pernell writes, “You can choose what you think by interrupting what you were thinking. After practicing choosing your words and selecting what you think, you actually begin to choose how you think.”
And how we present ourselves to others acts as a reflection of how we feel about ourselves. “How have you judged yourself? How have you allowed others to treat you? How have you been training others to treat you?” Pernell asks.
We do have a choice. We can question the times we have apologized, felt like we didn’t belong, or that it wasn’t okay to do something for ourselves.
“You are entitled to your voice, your opinion, your wants, your dreams, and your desires,” writes Pernell.
Yet for many people — especially peacemakers — abdicating their power becomes a means of avoiding conflict. The end result, however, is resentment, internal conflict, and even depression.
Pernell writes, “The ugly cycle is that the more you say you are sorry, the sorrier you’ll feel. The sorrier you feel, the less of you that shows up as worthy in the world.”
We can all feel like an impostor at times, that we will be found out for all we don’t know, and it is this fear that stops people from pursuing their dreams. The question Pernell suggests we ask ourselves is not, What if I am not good enough? Instead, we should be asking ourselves, What if I am?
He writes, “Stop looking for evidence of not knowing enough, and for the sake of practice, begin looking at ways your gift is unique.”
Change starts with taking a risk. Pernell relates his own experience of questioning himself and his abilities while in graduate school and ultimately blocking his growth while attempting to keep his world safe.
He writes, “My little world was becoming smaller because I was making it so. I was not acknowledging that I was good enough at the moment. Neither was I able to see that I could own the process by looking in the mirror each morning and telling myself, ‘Today is the day you are Choosing Your Power.’”
Instead of wishing people to be safe, we should be wishing them to “risk well,” and find one thing that is different from yesterday’s definition of safety, and, in doing so, move past what was.
Similarly, we should stop seeking perfection and look instead for progress in the risks we take, our ability to forgive our transgressions, move out of our safety bubble, and build competence and confidence in ourselves.
Change is scary and demands that we redefine our version of happiness to include accepting some discomfort, uncertainty, and pain as part of personal growth.
“People tend to live with unhappiness because it is easier than changing,” writes Pernell.
By envisioning where we’d like to be — what Pernell calls our Envisioned Positive Outcome (EPO) — overcoming our resistance to change, and using our imagination to find the best route to where we’d like to be, we can begin to live the process.
Pernell writes, “Only by living in harmony with the process will other doors open that allow you to realize your EPO smoothly and efficiently.”
As one major difference between people who are effective in the world and those who are victims of the world is where their sense of control lies, Pernell suggests that we check our language and eliminate words like, maybe, never, always, should, try, can’t, but, need, and the question why.
We can choose instead to be grateful for what we have, to embrace an attitude of possibility, to forgo a life of lack, and go after the life we really want. For Pernell, it all starts when we choose our power.
Insightful, witty, and humorous, Choosing Your Power, offers the tools, tips, and exercises to move out of fear, resistance, and uncertainty and into a life of confidence, gratitude, and possibility.
Choosing Your Power: Becoming Who You Deserve to be at Home and in the World
Balboa Press, January 2013
Paperback, 173 pages