I want to tell you a suggestion, an exhortation. It will be a positive proposal. Your goal is simply to observe and think about what your inner response is.
"It's okay to possess your power."
There are various ways in which people can react to this idea, but they tend to follow certain trends. Were your thoughts similar to those?
- "At first the idea sounded good, but then, in deeper reflection, I noticed that I didn't like to possess my power, so I sometimes avoid it."
- "It doesn't feel good because I'm afraid I will use it to cause harm."
- "I've realized that I don't think I have power at all."
- "I notice that I am afraid that they will be called to account for what I do or say."
- "I think, with concern, about the phrase 'power distorts'."
It is perfectly natural to feel reserved about power. The news every day gives us a dose of information about abuse and abuse of power and we all have our own experiences of abuse with us. We do not often hear stories of power uses that support prosperity and promote the good of all.
Power has become such a loaded term that you may be surprised to hear a definition of power that does not idealize or tame it: Power is the ability to work or influence. Power is a neutral concept. We all need the power to take action, bring our dreams to life, and influence others. People often look to us to come to power in healthy ways.
From the point of view of the use of force, there are four types of power to understand, possess and pay attention to:
- The first and foremost is the personal power that everyone has. It is your ability to influence your life and decide how to be with others.
- Next up is role power. This is the extra layer of power and responsibility that is added to personal power whenever you are in power, such as a teacher, therapist, lawyer, employer, elected official, etc.
- The next is state power, which is largely untapped and culturally endowed. It includes traits such as race, gender, religion, heritage, integrity, age etc. (You can also call this privilege).
- And the fourth kind is the collective power – the extra power that groups of people have when they work together.
Using our power wisely and well requires us, instead of avoiding or excluding, to possess all these kinds of powers. Understanding the effects and relational dynamics that accompany each type of power is the key to their beneficial use. There may be ways in which you are already using and interacting with these types of power, but how aware are you of how you do it and the impact it has?
In this article, we focus on personal power. Personal power is your right. We all have power. Even babies can choose to roll a ball or influence the behavior of others when they shout or smile. One of the tasks of a lifetime is to develop the skillful use of your personal power to influence others you want to have. This self-knowledge can be used to guide you into progressively healthier relationships.
There are many ways we use our personal power to influence our personal relationships. These uses of force can be considered as variables, where opposite properties can be set in a continuous. A good way to explore the spectrum of your own properties is to write or print the following below and then place a mark on the spot at each continuum where you tend to land. Of course, in healthy relationships, there is room for a number of circumstances-based responses, but most of us have natural tendencies.
As you do this activity, note that all of these attributes in all consecutive are positive. One is not better than the other. It is not inherently better to be instructive or responsive, and having a good range of responses to different situations is good.
However, misuse and abuse of power tend to occur more frequently at the ends of each continuum. For example, someone at the edge of the side of the continuous side of the force can experience it as sharp, rigid, or medium. In the meantime, someone at the extreme end of his or her heart may be challenged, conflicted or unable to give direct instructions. At both ends, people become disconnected and relationships become strained, confused, and difficult.
Instruction ——- Response
Limited fixed ——- Flexible bounded
Goal – Focus on the relationship
Persistent ——- Letting go
Integrity – focused
Resistance to center ——- Center to center
Extraverse ——- Intraverse
You now have a picture of your personal power profile. How do you feel about your profile? Are there any trends that you would like to shift in one direction or the other to have more influence that you want to have? Are there any trends that feel particularly 'stuck' in one place? What is your possession of power so that you can make an conscious choice about how you use it for good?
If you want to explore this topic further and start an interesting conversation, try comparing your profile with people you are closely connected to. You will increasingly be able to have the kind of relationships you want and are capable as you grow to understand and gain power.
If you would like help with dealing with energy issues in your life, you can find a therapist here.
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