All was quiet in front of the 7-Eleven. We had just called a cab, and around five or six of us—all players on our high school’s baseball team—waited for it. Every year, our team traveled to Florida for spring break, and during this trip, we had just enjoyed a night out. All of a sudden, while we waited, three cars, each full of guys, screeched around the corner. One of them threw a grapefruit in our direction. Then the guys got out of their cars and taunted us, tempting us into a fight. We all did the math in our heads. Being outnumbered on foreign ground is a recipe for disaster. There was no winning. Fortunately, the cab showed up before a fight could start. We jumped in and headed off to safety.
I believe we made the right play. Fighting would have ended badly. But I couldn’t help feeling weak and powerless. Each of us has felt weak at some point. Maybe you had a moment when you didn’t show as much courage as you hoped, or you backed down from a challenge. Perhaps you recently experienced a loss, got fired or laid off, or were bested in an exchange of words. If you are feeling weak, there are a couple of things you can do to start the process of self-empowerment. Here are 5 things to do when you’re feeling weak.
1. Set a daily goal.
Start small. Set an easily achievable goal each day that will build your strength. Maybe it’s as simple as five push-ups or greeting all the people you see before they greet you. Perhaps it’s refusing to push snooze on your alarm clock or making your bed every day. These simple goals will become daily routines and then habits. You’ll see your self-discipline and your confidence grow.
2. Do something you’ve been putting off.
I hate thinking about money. I just want to be able to pay my bills, go to the store, or go on vacation, and have the money just be there. Budgeting and doing our taxes are two things I put off every year. In fact, I’m the guy working on his taxes on April 15, every year. So this year, I made our annual budget before January 1, and I did our taxes before the end of February. I felt a lot of self-empowerment. We all put off things, whether out of fear, insecurity, or just plain laziness. Do it. Set a deadline and take the initiative.Part of self-empowerment is challenging your fears.
3. Do something outside your comfort zone.
During a work retreat, I realized one of my biggest weaknesses is visualizing success. As part of our retreat, we had the opportunity to climb to the top of a telephone pole and jump to a trapeze, all with ropes and harnesses. I’m terrified of heights, but I knew I needed to visualize the success of doing it no matter how uncomfortable it made me. I did it and felt stronger for it. The Apostle Paul used to put his life on the line in his ministry. In a letter to Timothy, a man he was mentoring, he said, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” Part of self-empowerment is challenging your fears. What is something you could do that’s out of your comfort zone?
4. Say no.
Are you a people pleaser? Do you feel pressure to say yes to everything or be agreeable in all situations? Say no. Set a goal to say no to one thing this week. It’s a good exercise for setting boundaries and being firm with a decision. It’s also a good way to affirm your own feelings and desires. Saying no doesn’t make you a jerk, even when you’re firm about it. You can be kind about it, but it’s a simple way to be empowered and respect yourself.
5. Have a difficult conversation.
Starting a tough conversation takes courage. Maybe it’s discussing a pay increase with your boss or perhaps it’s a discussion with your kids about sex. Talk to wise people, think about what you want to communicate, put together a game plan, set a time, and just do it. But don’t feel like you need to get everything right; just begin the conversation. Even if it doesn’t go the way you hoped, give yourself credit for being brave. And know this: The more difficult conversations you enter, the stronger and better you get.
Sound off: What do you do when you are feeling weak and need self-empowerment?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “Have you ever felt weak? What did you do about it?”