The Positive Impact of Personal Power in Young Adults
Personal power and independence is what helps us get through life. It helps us feel empowered to advocate for ourselves and take control of our own destiny and affect positive change in our lives and the lives of others. However, for teens with childhood trauma, they often feel as if they have no control over their own lives, leading to negative consequences.
What is Personal Power?
Personal power is simply the ability to influence others to make things happen. It is more than just having control over your own life. It can make a positive difference in the lives of others as well. Individuals with a strong personal power have confidence in themselves and their abilities. They are determined and have an inner strength, even when facing obstacles and challenges. While they may influence and impact those around them, they don’t have control over them.
Teens and Personal Power
The goal of any parent, guardian, or teacher is to help teens develop independence as they move into adulthood. While this may seem obvious, the reality for young adults who have suffered childhood trauma, bullying, or other hardships feel their world is out of control and that they have no personal power.
Some teens may have not been given the opportunity to explore their own independence in a positive manner. Independence and personal power, however, are part of our natural development. So these teens may assert their choices in ways that could have negative consequences. These teens are labeled as troublemakers or defiant. If they are not guided by adults on how to assert age-appropriate personal power, they get that guidance from other sources. They could end up asserting personal power in a negative way, such as by bullying.
Changing “Power Over” to “Power To”
All teens, regardless of their trauma, should be mentored by the adults in their life to convert those power struggles from “power over” to “power to.” In other words, we legitimize the developmental need for personal power, but not as a form of dominance over others. Instead, we must help them realize they have the power to achieve their goals by nurturing their inner strength and resilience. It is about helping them understand they have the power to do things that will change their life in a positive way. Through healthy ways of gaining personal power during this key time of development, they will not need to find or use destructive ways to meet their needs.
It is important to remember that each child is different. You’ll need to find unique ways to nurture each child or teen’s personal power. Often, giving them the opportunity to channel their need for personal power into a positive set of tasks can help empower them to achieve positive and inspirational goals. This not only leads to a sense of well-being, but gives them potential for even more growth that can have a positive impact on them and those around them.