How to Reclaim Your Power and Step into Your Adult Self

Mar 29, 2024

Many of us had to grow up fast and be responsible from a young age. Yet in moments, we might catch ourselves waiting for someone to rescue or take care of us - old habits die hard. Hidden expectations like these can really stunt your growth. 

Today, let's talk about how our upbringing influences us, even now. Maybe our parents did a great job overall. But we might doubt we can ever achieve what they did, or feel we don't quite measure up.

On the flip side, if we faced criticism, neglect, or turmoil as kids, we may wonder if certain paths aren't meant for "people like us." Relying on others to swoop in and sort things out is another way our past holds us back.


In this blog, you’ll learn:

  • How unresolved issues with our upbringing continue influencing us even as adults
  • The 5 immutable truths we must accept or risk being constantly shocked by life
  • Examples of childhood patterns that can unconsciously sabotage relationships
  • The story of my client “Laurel’s” tragic struggle with self-worth


Healing Emotional Wounds from Childhood

I've had many clients confess things like: "I can't do my own taxes because my dad always handled money matters. Now that he's gone, I'm lost." Or, "My mom was the organized one. I'm just not good at that." Even if the parents have worked on themselves, the old wounds linger. The person still doubts their capability.  

As we focus today on "re-parenting" ourselves as adults, imagine what messages you might have internalized from a completely attuned, unconditionally loving mother or father. What would be different? This highlights areas where we can stand to forgive and accept ourselves more fully.

The goal isn't to vilify those who raised us. They likely did their best, even if it left marks. As adults, it’s on us to heal our emotional injuries - not make excuses or hold grudges. Examining stuck points frees us up for healthier relationships, too. 

Have you noticed yourself thinking, “I can’t do that because that’s what family does or doesn’t do”? Do you wait for specific feedback before pursuing something? As we unravel key moments where empathy was missing in our upbringing, we regain personal power. Then we can write our own story.

Embracing the Unchangeable Realities of Life

Psychiatrist David Richo encourages us to accept The Five Things We Cannot Change in life. When we embrace them, life flows easier. If we resist reality, we risk going through life feeling shocked, indignant, or victimized whenever these immutable truths affect us.


Here are The Five Things We Cannot Change according to David Richo:


  • Everything changes and ends


For example, your friend circles and life circumstances tend to look different with each passing decade. Maybe you moved to a new city, started a family, or entered a new career. Relationships and roles shift over time.


  • Things do not always go according to plan


You might apply to grad schools or send book proposals, only to face rejection. Or perhaps you struggled to get pregnant on your expected timeline. Even careful planning can't control every outcome.


  • Life is not always fair


Some people endure devastating losses like the death of a child or pour endless energy into caring for a physically disabled toddler, while others breeze through child-rearing. We all face different hands of cards.


  • Pain is a part of life


You may unexpectedly face divorce from the love of your life or painful family ruptures. These agonizing losses can make you feel inconsolably alone, even when others care deeply.


  • People are not loving and loyal all the time


You may experience forms of betrayal like cheating or broken promises that violate your trust. Rather than seeing this as someone failing you, accept that people sometimes act in unexpectedly hurtful ways.

The goal here isn't to bypass pain but rather embrace these unavoidable realities of life. Expecting life to conform to our ideals and desires only magnifies suffering. If we accept human imperfection as a neutral fact rather than a personal affront, we can process life's hardest moments with more peace and grace. 


Overcoming a Victim Mentality

As we fully process grievances about our childhood and make peace with life's difficulties, we stop feeling so much like victims. Of course, some people endure traumatic events like assault where they are genuinely victimized. But then with healing, we don't let victimhood become our whole identity. We find ways to move forward. Easier said than done, but is absolutely possible!

Even well-meaning parents can inadvertently undermine children. It’s easy to internalize messages that weren’t overtly stated just by reading the room as a child. For instance, some kids only learn that love and praise come through achievement and validation-seeking. If parents focus mostly on accomplishments rather than unconditional acceptance, love can feel conditional. Or a well intentioned parent can rush in to do everything for their child, unconsciously conveying, “I don’t think you can do it.”

If you didn’t receive a kind and secure attachment, fear not.  You can still heal and have a healthy vibrant life. The goal here isn't to vilify imperfect parents, but to clearly see how our upbringing empowered and limited us. Doing so equips us to embrace life's ever-changing nature with wisdom.

An adult who was emotionally supported in childhood can usually sustain loving relationships, but still need to learn to set healthy boundaries around mistreatment. Even without an ideal background, we can cultivate these skills over time.

Those with consistently attentive parenting generally trust others, and are not overly scanning their environment. They can handle disappointment and betrayal without being destroyed. In other words, they have more inner cushion from being emotionally supported growing up. 


Here are some examples where emotional needs were mostly not met in childhood:

  • You may have trouble acknowledging how unhappy or abused you felt. This makes it harder to conceive of alternate realities or work toward positive change.
  • You can recreate painful relationship dynamics over and over, maintaining self-defeating assumptions like, “This is just what love looks like. Love means disrespect. No one will truly love me.”
  • Feeling suspicious when someone shows you generosity and care. This can stem from a narcissistic parent where you gave a lot without reciprocal care. Kindness feels unfamiliar.
  • Pushing through life in isolation, doubting if support is real or sustainable. Like, “Why are you helping me?” The unconscious agreement was you couldn't rely on others.

Here are some examples of how we might give away personal power:

  1. Refusing to express feelings out of fear of reactions. For instance, you don't communicate needs around not feeling liked, then resent the other person.
  2. Over-politeness and putting others first at your own expense, implicitly conveying, "You're more important than me." This keeps us so busy we can't care for ourselves.
  3. Tolerating mistreatment by explaining it away, "Their childhood was so hard and mine wasn't, so it's understandable." We give them free passes rather than requiring respect or finding partnerships requiring less energy to maintain.


Laurel’s Story: The Tragic Impact of Childhood Messaging

Let me tell you about a client of mine, “Laurel” (not her real name) who came from a loving yet complicated family. Laurel was 45 years old, living in Boston, with Italian roots. Her father was a billionaire - a larger-than-life figure whom everyone idealized and deferred to without question. Laurel had a brother who also revolved around their powerful patriarch.

Despite showering his children with affection, Laurel's father didn't permit them to chart their own courses. "You can't take that job or open that business," he'd declare. "I don't know that field - you should go into my profession instead," he would say to her and her brother.

Even with a Master's degree, brilliant Laurel ended up in a minimum wage job at her dad's insistence, "to gain experience," and made a stand for her brother to take on a job he was overqualified for.  Certainly not the path he'd have chosen for himself! From this, Laurel absorbed dangerous messages: “I can't trust myself. Others know better. Men are smarter.”

Tragically, Laurel attracted romantic partners who exploited her lack of self-trust, dominating and later physically abusing her. Despite limitless wealth to escape, Laurel remained trapped repeating this painful pattern, silenced and betrayed by her own conditioning.

Her loving parents would have been mortified to learn their subtle training led Laurel to tolerate abuse. "You're not worth it," her actions said, as she clung to unworthy men for validation, just as she'd clung to her father's approval as his "little girl."

Years later she rang updating me on her life, and I encouraged Laurel to go back to therapy, but her father dismissed the idea, saying, "Just go to a $20 clinic - that's good enough for you." I never learned what became of her after that phone call. But I feared the worst - that she'd remain haunted by messages she didn't deserve a voice, self-respect or real care.

As I share Laurel's story, consider where you may not trust yourself fully, even if not to such an extreme. How might this undermine you? Also, reflect on believing love is conditional - "I must do something to be loved." Such subtle childhood messaging can haunt us.


Here are three examples of reclaiming personal power:

  1. Be clear on your choices and agenda. Say yes if you mean yes, no if you mean no. If unsure, ask for time by saying "Let me get back to you as this doesn't feel clear now." Give yourself needed space.
  2. Directly ask others for what you want, rather than hoping they'll offer or guess. Before venting with your spouse or friend, for instance, clarify if you want feedback or just listening. Also, check if they have the mental bandwidth to engage.
  3. Always take responsibility for your own feelings and behaviors rather than blaming others. This includes treating yourself and others with equal respect and courtesy, rather than relegating your needs.


Know that others have a right to approach you with requests. You can see their needs neutrally, without feeling pressure to comply. You might say "I don't really want to do that right now, but thanks for thinking of me."

As far as taking responsibility, that means being able to openly admit when you personally make mistakes. For instance, I make mistakes all the time. We have to grant ourselves self-forgiveness for being imperfect humans. Then we can reset and move forward

Would you like to be taken through the process of reclaiming your power and life? This information above is from my deep dive series called Reveal and Heal Obstacles to Your Success™. There you will find a step-by-step healing path to help you build a strong and resilient foundation to heal from your past and move through life with ease. 

You can find Reclaiming My Power, Reclaiming My Life: Stepping Fully into My Adult Self healing class in the Invoke and Release® Healing Circle.


Reclaim your Power with Invoke and Release®


Now that we’ve explored influences that may limit realizing your full potential, it’s time to integrate any fragmented parts of yourself through the Invoke and Release® process. This healing modality can help you:


  • Accept all aspects of your past and present self with compassion
  • Release assumptions from your upbringing that define or confine you
  • Invoke qualities like self-trust, capability, and inner authority
  • Achieve greater self-awareness and authorship over your life’s story


Reclaim Your Life with the Invoke and Release® Healing Circle


Deepen your self-empowerment path by joining the Invoke and Release® Healing Circle. Receive guidance on

  • Exercises to embrace disowned aspects of yourself with compassion
  • Building self-acceptance when difficult emotions arise
  • Moving past limiting inner criticism rooted in childhood
  • Integrating denied or discouraged parts of yourself


Important Links:

The Five Things We Cannot Change by David Richo

Reveal and Heal Obstacles to Your Success™

What is Invoke and Release®?

Invoke and Release® Healing Circle

Invoke and Release® website


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