How would you describe your relationship with power?
Do you embrace it? Shy away from it?
Trust it? Feel suspicious toward it?
I used to carry enemy images of power.
Experiences I’d had with people using external and institutional power over others in self-serving, exploitative, and violent ways left me feeling wary about the potential misuse of power and distrusting of many people who appeared to have power.
Also, over the years I’ve had relational experiences with people who told me that I’m “intimidating,” “scary,” or “a force of nature,” and that left me with the assumption that I need to make myself smaller, quieter, nicer, and more agreeable if I wanted to have lasting connections with others.
I completely disowned my power and immersed myself in a deep search for equality, mutuality, and interdependence.
And you know where that led me?
Full circle. Back to personal power.
Although many of us may carry negative associations with power, when we understand the fundamental differences between fear-based, power-over dynamics and courage-based, power-with dynamics, everything changes.
What makes power either dangerous or life-affirming lies in our underlying motivations and intentions, and in how we use it.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. defined power as our “ability to achieve purpose and effect change,” and I believe that a fundamental part of our collective healing and growth journey involves embracing our own power, sharing power with others, and inspiring each other to develop our personal power.
In domination systems, where power is seen as a limited resource, people feel the need to compete with one another to get more of it. As a result, they operate out of a scarcity mentality and see other people as obstacles to getting their needs met. They leverage fear to puff themselves up, maximize their own needs being met at the expense of others’ needs, and use judgment, rightness, shame, and blame to fortify their positions of authority and influence. Their egos are more interested in being right than in getting things right, and they ultimately act out of fear, righteousness, and self-interest when making decisions.
As we heal and grow, however, we realize that we are inherently interconnected and interdependent. We see the ways that outdated domination systems continue to wound, traumatize, and divide us, and we begin seeking a more collaborative and co-creative path forward.
On this journey, one of the tasks that we are invited to take on involves owning our personal power by growing up our internal children and re-empowering our internal victims.
Healing actually requires power.
As we move away from violence and toward nonviolence, and as we move away from shame and blame toward connection and co-creation, we come face to face with our relationship with power.
We begin to see that power is infinite, timeless, and inherent to our being. We realize that as we share power, our own power expands and increases. We learn how to use empathy, understanding, and connection to stabilize, unite, and create together. We tame our egos and put our personalities in service to more complex thinking, including multiple perspectives in our solutions and in “getting things right” instead of “being right.”
Power-with dynamics are all about living in the flow of life, aligned with sacred life energy, fulfilling our purpose.
We intuitively know this flow. It’s like breathing in and out, pedaling up and down, contracting and expanding, speaking and listening. We empower our lives when we work in seamless response to what each moment presents.
Take a moment to self-assess your internal power by reflecting on these three questions:
1. What are you willing to become aware of?
The more conscious you are of yourself and others, the more powerful you become. Self-awareness is a powerful internal resource that directly affects your ability to consciously create new outcomes in your life.
2. What are you willing to feel?
Whatever you aren’t willing to face and feel will exert power over you. It will become and organizing force, running your life through unconscious conditioning. Once you are willing to feel everything arising within you, you’ll experience a sense of freedom and power that comes from not being a slave to your emotions.
3. What conversations are you willing to approach?
Whatever you are unwilling to say out loud will drain your energy. When you’re willing to have the hard conversations, say the hard things, set the difficult boundaries – all with compassion, care and integrity – you start collecting your personal power and inspiring others to do the same.
WANT TO GO DEEPER IN THIS WORK?
Here are a few of my programs that might be of interest to you: