Empower yourself from within

Many people feel powerless and frazzled in stressful situations. But YOU don’t have to be one of those people. If you’ve read Take charge of your life, you know how to increase your self-efficacy and operate from an internal locus of control. Remember the basics:

  • Believing you can have an impact
  • Monitoring and managing your internal dialogue
  • Turning off the automatic ‘Yes’
  • Finding new ways to do things

Now let’s look at how you can use these tips in practical ways during the average working day.


Assess situations calmly

Let’s say your boss dumps a last-minute task on your lap. Ask yourself, “Where do I have leverage here?” You can choose to say nothing and accept the task. Or you can talk to your boss about a more realistic deadline. Alternatively, you could agree to do the job but set a boundary around similar situations in the future.

Challenge your self-talk

Your external locus of control might be saying, “I don’t have a choice. I have to do this.” Challenge that limiting thought by telling yourself, “I have several alternatives here.”


Instead of saying ‘yes’ right away, think for a moment. Do you want to sacrifice your family time or stay up all night to get the project done? If you find it hard to say no outright, consider other ways you can approach the situation. Buy more time by saying, “Let me get back to you on that” or “I’ll have to check my calendar.” Then you can work out what to say.

Explore new ways of doing things

The more often you try a novel approach to familiar things, the more flexible you will become. Explore new ideas. Most people don’t realise how much control they really have over their life circumstances. But when you do, you start to grow those proverbial nerves of steel. Ask a friend what they would do in your shoes. Read a book on assertiveness.

About the author of this article

Eleanor Shakiba is a positive psychology trainer. She trains and coaches people in high-intellect professions – such as academia, education, project management, research and development, and engineering. Her expertise in teaching positive psychology makes Eleanor a highly sought-after facilitator. Find out how she can help you or your team here.