Power vs Force

by | May 14, 2019 | Power Dynamics

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A few weeks ago my daughter and I had a rough Saturday morning. Our whole argument could be summarized in a variety of ways:

Perhaps I could focus on what we each did right/wrong:

  • She woke up in a bad mood, and I reacted badly.

  • Or, she was struggling with hurt feelings and I took it too personally and got reactive.

  • Or, she took out her anger on me, and I defended myself.

  • Or, she behaved in inappropriate ways, and I decided to coach her into better ways of behaving.

I could also tell the story by focusing on our process:

  • She was struggling with expressing and processing her feelings, and I was struggling with not taking it too personally.

  • She took responsibility for her anger, and I took responsibility for my reactivity.

The way we re-tell a story says more about how we make meaning of what happens to us, than about what actually happened.

If we pay attention to how we recount a story, we can also gain some valuable insights into where and how we get stuck in our relationships.

A few weeks ago as I was speaking about Power vs Force, I retold this story about my rough morning with my teenage daughter, because it was such a beautiful example of the way in which we often convert our hurt, fear or helplessness into anger, and how sabotaging this can be.

I’m sharing some clips from that talk with you today.

If you follow this link, the talk will start at exactly the right space in the story where I talk about how we convert hurt into anger, and all that follows next.

If you want to understand the difference between the protective and punitive use of force, and what this has to do with power, you can listen a little longer.

At minute 35, we explore what it’s like to fall in love, and how that relates to living powerfully, and by minute 41, you’ll learn 8 Practical Ways to Move Forward into more Powerful Lives.

When our environments are primarily empathic, we no longer need to convert our hurt or our fear into anger.

We instead simply move through those feelings as we find better ways of meeting our needs.

We are able to stay connected to how life feels, using these feelings as cues about what is needed to make things work better.

What would it be like to step into a different way of being in the world?

  • A way of being based on nonviolence, based on compassion, based on love, based on shared humanity with other human beings?

  • A way of being in which we nurture relationships above everything else?

  • A way of being in which we focus on healing ourselves, our families, and extend compassion to those with whom we interact at work beyond?

What would that be like?

So, as you go into your week this week, I’d love to know:

  1. How do you distinguish between the protective and punitive use of power in your life?

  2. Which of the 8 steps at the end of the video do you struggle with the most? Where do you get stuck? What helps you when you are stuck?

  3. What step would you add? What’s missing from my list?

Leave a comment below and continue the conversation with me!


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