We all create flight-fight reactions to handle situations that arise from an immediate challenge, causing disempowerment. Instead, empower yourself with solutions shared by Austin-based Resonance RepatternIng practitioner, Mary Schneider.

Exactly what does it mean to be empowered? The traditional definition of empowerment means increasing the spiritual, political and economic strength of individuals and communities. The opposite of empowerment is oppression, or the absence of choice. As long as we are locked into the unconscious repetitive patterns of our own history and that of our family and generational history, we continually threaten our own empowerment.

What happens in our day-to-day existence that threatens or takes us out of empowerment? A victim mentality, co-dependence, relying on coping mechanisms such as alcohol, drugs and tobacco are a few of the ways that people experience disempowerment.

These days, because so many of us are mired in a Sympathetic Nervous System overdrive situation, we constantly try to find external methods to calm ourselves down. Most of these attempts are feeble at best, especially when we engage in behaviors that are designed to distract us so that we can simulate relaxation. When we take ourselves out of the moment we may respond in a disempowered manner.

Here’s basically what is happening: we were given a Sympathetic Nervous System to deal with saber-toothed tigers, or threatening situations, at the beginning of our time on this planet. The tiger appears. Our Sympathetic Nervous System is activated and our reptilian brain engages. We move into a fight-flight response. The reptilian brain activates our adrenal glands and they start pumping adrenalin and the cortisol hormone to help us either successfully fight or flee.

What most of us do not understand is that we were also given a Parasympathetic Nervous System that was specifically designed to allow us to move into deep relaxation and rejuvenation immediately upon either successfully fighting or fleeing. Unfortunately, when the Sympathetic Nervous System has been activated over long periods of time we lose our ability to automatically move into the Parasympathetic Nervous System. The result? Even though we may want to, we cannot relax.

This is one of the primary reasons why our culture is steeped in the coping mechanisms like alcohol or drugs. We are, albeit unsuccessfully, trying to simulate the Parasympathetic Nervous System response that is no longer available to us. And, in the process of trying to simulate that response, we are disempowered.

Why? The simple answer is that when we are engaged in most of these kinds of distracting behaviors, they take us out of the present moment. When we are not present we are either stuck in old emotions from past experiences, or we are throwing ourselves into the future to try to control the negative outcomes we imagine might occur. The negative outcomes we imagine in the future are commonly referred to as negative predictions. Many of us live in our negative predictions about the future. As a result, we live in the fantasy of our future lives that cannot exist and avoid being in the present moment. Thus, again, this creates being disempowered.

At other times, a present negative experience triggers a similar past experience and we are thrown back into the past with its itinerant negative feelings and emotions. Much of the time we experience these negative feelings and emotions as actually occurring in the present and generally creating negative consequences. We erroneously think that this is all happening in the present when actually it is not. We then respond to the present upsetting situation as if it were the past one sometimes with inappropriate emotional responses that may cause pain to ourselves, and others. This is disempowerment.

The solution? Empowerment happens when we react to a present situation with a present and, therefore, appropriate response. We are unencumbered by unresolved, triggered feelings and responses from the past or negative predictions about the future. Our responses in this scenario will almost always be appropriate, measured and loving to ourselves, and others.

Responding from empowerment in the present moment gives us access to all of our faculties and to everything we know – on a conscious, intuitive and sub-conscious level. As a result, we respond in a proactive, positive way as opposed to a reactionary, knee-jerk manner that may be problematic. Responding from empowerment in the present moment will give us the strength to handle most of the situations in our busy lives effectively and with compassion.