Pump Up Your Personal Power

I was eleven years old, watching The Three Stooges, on a fall afternoon.  I heard a loud insistent knock at the back door and, upon opening it, I saw my neighbor, Little Larry, all out of breath and crying.  A hunter mistakenly shot his dog Lobo.  Lobo was suffering and needed help.

Larry’s family didn’t own a gun and he knew that my Dad did.  But I was the only one home and I had played with Lobo.  I was torn and afraid and I didn’t want to do it. I just wanted to cry like Larry was, or run from the responsibility.  The last thing I wanted to do was to feel my feelings.

Struggling small business owners often ask, “What’s wrong with me?”  It’s really easy to fall into the trap of self-judgment when things don’t turn out as planned.  It can be especially frustrating when it seems as though many others are succeeding.

But, what if there is nothing inherently wrong with you?  What if you have the capacity to succeed in business but you’re not fully using your personal power?

It’s not a question of your makeup; you have what it takes to succeed. But what if you are not giving it your all?  You might think you are, but if you’re holding back on feeling your feelings fully, then you’re operating at a fraction of your available personal power.  Decide to hold back no more – direct all of your personal power for life and business success.

In my life coaching practice, I’ve coached many men and a few women who did everything they could to avoid feeling negative emotions.  Once we do some digging, the memory of a major childhood trauma often surfaces.  Some clients have avoided feeling feelings for 30 years or more.  Some hurt so badly that they refuse to even discuss it.

Yet they can’t confidently express the personal power necessary to be a successful entrepreneur, while still holding back on their feelings.

My authentic business success did not fully happen, until I changed back into the championship feeler that I once was.  Authenticity can be your edge for business success. But it’s impossible to be fully authentic if you aren’t feeling everything.

Back to Lobo, up until that time, I wore my emotions on my sleeve.  If you hurt, me I cried.  If something scared me, I cried.  If I was embarrassed or ashamed about something, I cried.  Back then, when the emotions arose, I felt them naturally and then felt better.

But growing up in the macho fifties, that presented a big problem.  Every adult male in my life, including my Dad, told me to “quit crying, suck it up and be a man.”

This was in the country, in 1961, and people just didn’t spend money on veterinarians.  Larry knew that the merciful thing to do was to end Lobo’s suffering.  I agreed, but my Dad wasn’t home.  Then something clicked in my eleven-year-old mind.  I saw this as an opportunity to take the advice of my Dad, uncles, and male teachers.  I needed to suck it up and be a man.

Suddenly I knew what I had to do.  I got the shotgun and a shell out of the closet and walked down over the hill with Larry.  It was hard looking at Lobo and knowing that I was ending his life.  We’d played and run together many times.

But I sucked it up and I did it.  And I can remember walking back up the hill to my house as clear as it was yesterday.  A tearful feeling began deep in my chest, and just when it was at throat level and about to explode, I stopped it.

I swallowed my feelings and locked them up in some dark well.  I sucked it up.  I was a man.  I didn’t shed another tear for 38 years and I hated it.  I was stone-faced miserable and more afraid than when I freely cried.

If you’re a guy that’s buying that same bull, or if you know a guy (or gal) who is, please take this message to heart. You won’t really be a strong man or woman until you learn to feel all of your feelings, as they arise.

How?  First understand the benefits of feeling fully.  That understanding will help you to want to feel.  Then you need a process that will work for you.  There is none better than John Gray’s process in his book, How to Get What You Want and Want What You Have .

I’ve recommended it dozens of times in my life coaching practice and it almost always gets my clients feeling once again. It’s effective because it gives us a powerful way to first feel what’s there. Then after feeling it, we can choose something that feels better.

In Chapter 11, Gray shares this list of 12 negative emotional states.
1. “I am angry.”
2. “I am sad.”
3. “I am afraid.”
4.  “I am sorry.”
5. “I am frustrated.”
6. “I am disappointed.”
7. “I am worried.”
8.“I am embarrassed.”
9.“I am jealous.”
10. “I am hurt.”
11. “I am scared.”
12. “I am ashamed.”

These states are expertly listed, in a special order such that even if you don’t immediately, correctly identify which emotion you’re feeling, the process will correct your course in mid-stream.

This process uses journaling, which is a very effective method for feeling and releasing negative emotions.  I’ve personally found it to be highly effective and it’s what got me unstuck from the lingering affects of a major life wound.

Begin at the emotional state where you think you are and really feel it.

In each case, as you go down the list, you will experience a dramatic shift and release by going deeper.  Write a few minutes about any one level, and then shift to the next level down. At the end of the process, it is important to write out the positive feelings that naturally emerge after we release negative emotions. John Gray

Negative feelings begin as naturally occurring vibrations; they don’t become negative until we have attached a thought to them.

Everything in our lives, we create, promote or allow. Author Unknown

Everything! Wow, do you find that quote as inspiring as I do. That means we are at choice about everything in our lives. For everything, we make it up, advance it further or permit its presence.

“Everything” includes even the feelings we feel.  We can choose to allow or release our negative feelings.

We can also choose to pump up our personal power by creating positive feelings after we’ve released the negative.
We are all challenged from time to time, but true champions, learn to fully feel, process the emotions and return to rise again.

Are you operating a full personal power or are you still holding back?



  1. Hi Tom. Well this was a title that caught my eye! Lobo sure gave you a powerful reference point. Your post encourages me to remember that we are all different. It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others instead of focusing on your authentic self and doing your thing.

    Davinas last blog post..Future Self Meditation Invites Guidance

  2. I know I’m not functioning on full personal power. I have a bag full of negative emotions from being hurt by people who were supposed to protect me. I have no problem feeling the negative but I can’t seem to get over them and consistently turn it all into positive feelings. I get stuck.

  3. Hi Tom: That was certainly a powerful story. And I agree we all need to be careful about swallowing our emotions, because they don’t play dead and just stay buried. Nope, those suckers keep digging themselves out time and time again until we face up to them. And unresolved emotions can definitely get in the way of having a successful business.

  4. It was traumatic just reading that, Tom! As a man who cries often (but still not often enough) I don’t know what I’d do if I really held it all up inside. I’d probably have developed a terminal illness by now.


    Ari Koinumas last blog post..Blog Carnival: 10 Posts about Realizing Your Potential – Final Edition

  5. Thanks Tom for a post on a very important topic – one little talked of in the business development world that’s for sure.

    Like you it took me a while to get back to feeling my feelings. It certainly liberates our energy (it takes energy to hold things in and suppress them – which we could be using to live more fully instead).

    One disagreement: I don’t think emotions are negative. They all hold information for us. Some behaviour can be negative (hurting ourselves or others for instance) but I don’t think any emotion is negative. They are all energy organised to a purpose – they are all part of authentic us.

    This may just be quibbling about words though.

    Evans last blog post..What Do The Whitehall Studies Mean to You?

  6. Davina – Comparisons of any kind are deadly. All we can do is to be authentically who we are. That’s more than enough.

    Laurie – Use the list of negative emotional states in this post and write about how you feel. Really feel it with the intention of releasing them like a swiftly moving storm cloud. Then be sure to write about how you want to feel. This process will work for you. Believe it.

    Marelisa – I’m pleased to see you recognizing the affect of emotions in business. I knew this would not be a popular post because many would rather play it safe and act as though all is well. They really don’t know what they are missing.

    Ari – Yes they were mean an nasty times. I released a lot of anger with type A behavior, road rage and dirty tricks. I was not the man or coach you know today. If I hadn’t had rugby as a release I probably would have killed myself.

    Evan – Thanks for your comment. I know that far too few business development experts specialize in in the inner game of business as I do. Yet it’s the lack of a strong inner game that stops most business owners from really building what they could. I know what you mean and we probably are more in agreement than it appears on the value of less than comfortable emotions. Yes they hold value and yes we need to feel and release them. They really don’t become negative until we hold onto them unnecessarily. Productivity and creativity are more difficult states to reach when angry or sad.

  7. Hi Tom,

    I do think we agree.

    As to anger. I do think it can be a useful device to finding our dissatisfaction with the old which can be a useful part of creativity. Also the motivation to build the new. I think it can help make the breakthrough but not sustain the engagement if you see what I mean.

    Evans last blog post..What Do The Whitehall Studies Mean to You?

  8. Hi Tom – I like the list of emotional states. I think when we communicate with others if we can truly state how we’re feeling, we’re better off and so is the one we’re communicating with. Too often we beat around the bush or bottle up our feelings and then end up either resenting ourselves or the other person. Over the years I’ve learned to say “I’m disappointed” or “I’m angry” or whatever it is I’m feeling. It also helps to use “I” instead of saying “You disappointed me”, or “You made me angry”. No one likes feeling they’re to blame (even though they may have had something to do with our emotions).

    Barbara Swafford – Blogging Without A Blogs last blog post..NBOTW – It’s More Than A Funhouse

  9. Hi Tom, thanks for such a powerful post! 🙂 I agree that we definitely need to come full circle with our past in order to draw on our full personal power.

    When I was growing up, I hid and stash away undesirable memories and emotions. It was only a couple of years ago when I started to fully embrace personal growth that I started to look deep into myself and release all the backlog of emotions from the past. Having done that, I am now able to draw more strength from myself than I was able to before when I was locking away everything.

    I never get tired of living; it’s just such an amazing feeling with new things to discover everyday 😀

    Celes | EmbraceLiving.Nets last blog post..10 Ways To Tell If You Are A Perfectionist

  10. Leanne Magraith | Forever Change says:

    Hi Tom

    I am curious about the list of 12 negative emotions. I am not sure I have understood how you use this list as a tool to work through issues. Is the list meant to be a “hierachical” for example you need to work through number 3 before you move on to number 4 and so on and do you need to go down to number 12 each time?

    Leanne Magraith | Forever Changes last blog post..Fear Means All Systems Go!

  11. It’s amazing to think about the misguided lessons we have been taught in our past. I’m only 32 and I grew up with similar role models. I’ve never seen my dad cry. He also believed in the tough survive. Well the tough my survive, but they sure don’t enjoy their lives as much.

    I’m sorry that you had to kill that dog, but it looks like you learned a lot from it. Feelings are meant to be felt that’s why they are there. The only we we can learn and grow is to immerse ourselves in our feelings and be able to let them go. Like anything we need to do it in moderation. If we immerse ourselves in negative feeling for too long they can drag us into a depression.

    Karl Staib – Work Happy Nows last blog post..Day 16 of 30 – No Complaining

  12. Evan – Yes I understand what you mean. Sometimes when I’m really pissed I can use it to ride a wave of determination.

    Celes – Welcome! yes I share your amzement with life. But I did not feel that way when I wasn’t experiencing my feelings fully. It really does unlock the door to greater power.

    Barbara – Yep when we sincerely express ourselves in “I” messages we let the feeling go. I always tell my clients to tell the whole truth, early and often.

    Karl – Sorry you also had some faulty conditioning while growing up. But look at the bright side – you are far ahead of the curve coming into enlightenment this early on.

  13. What a great article Tom! The concept that we become stronger if we allow our feelings to express is tricky for a lot of people – I think we have to try it to be convinced. Thanks for the resources!

    Robins last blog post..What If? The Movie – Clip 2

  14. Leanne – Good question. You start with an issue that’s causing you concern and then find the spot on the list that most accurately reflects how you feel about it. Let’s say it’s “I am embarrassed.” You then write out all of the reasons why you’re embarrassed. Then of course write how you’d like to feel. And then go to the next emotion down, in this case, “I am jealous.” Then “I am hurt.”
    Keep repeating the process until you reach a deeper feeling which is where the transformation really occurs. For most it’s after 3 or 4 levels deep.

    Robin – Yep. You can’t just read bout this one. You’ve got to jump in with both feet.

  15. Thank you, Tom, great point! If we are to achieve content and optimism in what we do, we have to learn to accept all of our feelings as natural human emotions. If we have negative feelings, the best way to deal with them is to accept and address them, not ignore them.

    Matt Thomass last blog post..9 Things You Can Learn from Market Research

  16. Hi Tom, “I am angry”. This has been a problem for me for the most part of my life, more so when dealing with authoritative people.
    Every year I strive to better myself and try to work more calmly and quietly. You see I say what I see, and most of the time it’s the truth which gets me in to trouble.

    It’s OK dealing with your personal emotions and trying to become a better person from it. But at the end of the day, we all mascaraed as we live and work.

    skipratts last blog post..SkipRatt gets a new domain name

  17. SkipRatt – Anger can be a great motivator to get off our asses and do what needs to be done. Do what you can do in any given moment. Take responsibility for all of it. Feel your anger and let it lead you to actions. That’s the only way that I know to be pissed and to do something about it.

  18. Make small changes over time in food choices and levels of physical activity. Small steps work better than giant leaps.

    Shaws last blog post..Third Confirmed Dead From Avian Bird Flu

  19. Developing personal power and gaining self discipline begins with breaking old habits and learning to focus your attention.

  20. Develop yourself mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Surround yourself with inspiration messages. Sometimes we forget who we want to be. Motivational and inspirational messages are great ways to keep us plugged in. I like to call this positive mental food.

    Lyndseys last blog post..44th President to Be Sworn In on Tuesday January 20,2008

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