8 incredibly empowering ways to help women break out of their ‘safe zone’

One woman helping other women do precisely that is Antoinette Dale Henderson, a TEDx speaker and a women’s leadership expert with 25 years of experience. In fact, she’s penned an entire book explicating exactly how to supercharge your career, find your inner strength and get your voice heard.

According to recent research, we live in a world where 8 in 10 women have witnessed another woman struggling to make her view heard, and where 14 of the FTSE 350 have one or no women on their board. In fact, a recent BBC piece stated that there is ‘little sign of change’ for the number of women in top roles.

Power Up: The smart woman’s guide to unleashing her full potential aims to help women to break out of their ‘safe zone’ and unlock their inner power, which Antoinette believes holds them back in so many aspects of their day-to-day life and careers.

The book explores the challenges faced by women in the workplace and presents an inspirational route map to success via powerful techniques for increasing visibility and recognition.

Here, to mark the launch of her book, she shares 8 ways to help women to break out of their ‘safe zone’ and unlock their inner power…

Have you ever felt unable to express your true feelings? Or so angry or frustrated that you could explode?

Unlike men, who have traditionally been conditioned since birth to release powerful emotions in a physical way, channelling their energy into an act of defiance or decisiveness, women will often remain in the safety zone, where they can’t cause offence or rattle anyone’s cage, suppressing any emotions that could be perceived as ugly or unfeminine.

It’s in that safety zone that we find the highly powerful, but undervalued qualities of persuasive, diplomacy and emotional intelligence that are so often associated with women: asking rather than telling, collaborating rather than steamrolling. But it’s also here that we find the feelings of being tongue-tied, the ‘what ifs’ and the limiting beliefs that prevent us from moving forward, holding us in place as firmly as a clamped car.

Anger suppressed has to find a way out somehow, however much we try to hide it. This is why passive-aggression, so often a female trait, often backfires, leaving us feeling frustrated and misunderstood and everyone around us walking on eggshells, suspecting something’s wrong but not really understanding what or why.

So how can we find a way of channelling our emotion and getting what we want?

Power is an incredibly valuable force and it can be expressed in a variety of ways, from soft power to hard power. Both sexes are more effective and useful in the workplace if they exercise ‘softer’ skills like persuasiveness, kindness and compassion. At the other extreme is hard power, which is vital for growth and innovation. But too hard and uncompromising is overbearing, while too soft is a pushover. It’s in the middle that we find assertiveness, the kind of power that is the most effective of all.

Here are some of the ways we can break out of our ‘safety zone’ and unlock our inner power:

Manage your emotional state

Powerful women are aware of their emotional range and know how to manage their emotions. Keep a diary of all the emotions you are experiencing. Note down which ones make you feel powerful and which compromise your power.

Notice when you experience negative emotions and note down their impact. Think about how you might change your own thought process to lead to a more empowering emotion.

Learn how you react under pressure

Get to know how you naturally react under pressure. Identify which circumstances trigger you and make you feel under threat (e.g. maybe a noisy neighbour). Think about what your natural response would be – would you swear at them? Or maybe shut yourself away?

Notice the difference between how you might express yourself assertively, and how you might express yourself aggressively or passively.

Build resilience into your daily life

It’s important to build in daily habits that make you feel good, like going for a run, morning yoga, an afternoon cuppa or a mindfulness exercise before bed. This is part of what is necessary to boost day-to-day resilience.Make a list of what energises and invigorates you – this could be exercise, food, music, films or your favourite locations. Note what your body and mind need when your energy is low and be gentle with yourself, allowing your energy to replenish for another day.

Identify your resilience anchors, the people and places that keep you strong. Plan how you can make them a regular feature in your life.

Practice breathing techniques to calm you down when you get stressed or upset.

Power is a very personal force – we all want it for different reasons and express it in different ways. Powering up is about connecting with the force that drives you – that steely determination that propels you forward, that energy that’s sparked whenever you’re inspired or provoked.

Power is all about building your inner confidence, developing an unshakeable belief in your right to fulfil your potential, and having a certainty that you can do whatever you choose to. It’s also about knowing how to communicate assertively, speaking your truth and staying strong in the face of adversity.

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