you have more power than you realize

you have more power than you realize
Photo by Brett Jordan / Unsplash
“Consider who you are. Above all, a human being, carrying no greater power than your own reasoned choice, which oversees all other things, and is free from any other master.”
— Epictetus, Discourses, 2.10.1

Suffering is an inevitable part of our lives. We all experience different levels and kinds of suffering from time to time and in those times most of us question why we are the ones who need to go through them. But as the darkness of suffering surrounds us, we can always find the light of meaning in it. Not only will it dispel the darkness but it will also alleviate our pain to some extent. As Viktor Frankl writes in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, “In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice.”

When life gets messy, when things don’t work out, the best thing we can do for ourselves is to figure out a purpose, big or small, find meaning in our suffering, and do little positive things every day that improve our circumstances.

Everyone feels stuck or trapped sometimes. Maybe you're dealing with a difficult situation at home or work. Perhaps you're overwhelmed by responsibilities and obligations. Or it could be that you're just not feeling fulfilled by your daily routine.

In those tough moments, it's easy to fall into the mindset that you have no control over your circumstances. You think to yourself "I have to keep going to this job I hate" or "I'm forced to stay in this unhappy relationship." When you feel boxed in like that, it zaps your energy and motivation.

But here's the thing: you always have more power than you realize. Your greatest, yet often ignored, strength is your ability to use reason and make choices, even if those choices seem limited at first glance. No matter how dire your situation appears, you have the amazing capacity as a human being to actively decide how to respond.

Take an honest look at the areas causing you stress. What are your options for positive change, no matter how small? Could you adjust your attitude or your approach to make things better? Are there constructive conversations you could have or actions you could take to start improving matters? You might be surprised at the choices available to you when you pause and think it through rationally.

For example, if you're unhappy with your job, you're not totally powerless. You could update your resume, put out feelers for new opportunities, or ask for different responsibilities. If you're struggling with a relationship, you always have the choice of openly communicating your feelings or needs. And if you're feeling trapped in a cycle of negativity, you can make the conscious decision to focus more on gratitude and the good things in your life.

Your circumstances are never completely outside of your control because you have the uniquely human abilities of reason and choice. How you use those abilities, even in small ways day-to-day, is what unlocks your hidden strength and power. Looking for the positives and proactively making the best choices you can will ultimately lead you to a better situation.

So don't fall into the trap of thinking you're powerless. You have an incredible force within you — the power to respond to whatever life throws your way in a conscious, reasoned, and positively directed way. Use that power wisely each day and you'll make your situation better, one reasoned choice at a time.