Power is one of those words you have to watch, it means so many things to different people. This series of articles is about your power, personal power. To start off with, let’s get our arms around what it means. Since you have four aspects of energy expression and intelligence, we can use those to explore what it means. When speaking of power in a person, we can talk about physical power, mental power, emotional power and spiritual power.
Physical power means that you are capable of doing more of what you want when you want to do it. Examples could be: lifting things, moving things, enjoying skilled physical activities, and possibly defending yourself if need be. Mental power can mean that you are able to learn and understand quickly, come up with ideas, solve problems, and make quantum leaps in understanding. Emotional power means that you have learned how to maintain a high emotional place, that you have learned how to be in charge of your emotions instead of them running your sense of well being. Spiritual power can be interpreted as really knowing who you are, what has lasting meaning for you, where you have come from and where you want to go in terms of your personal evolution, how the universe and you fit together.
There is something that all these expressions of power have in common. Each one gives you more space and ability to choose, to recognize a greater set of options and to select certain ones according to your desires. This includes being able to choose your path, your likes and dislikes, to choose what is for your good and what is not. Having personal power also give you the ability to do something with your choices, to take action. So, in short, becoming more powerful means having an increasing ability to choose and to take action. That perception was an eye-opener for me! The one who is powerful is the one who gets to make the choices and then do something about it.
That is something almost everybody wants. Not all, but arguably, most. Having power also scares people, and we will take a look what that’s about in the last part of this series of articles about personal power.
Okay, we’ve established a useful definition. Now let’s take a look at how we give our power away and what that means for us. When we give our ability to choose away, we give away our personal power. When we give our ability to take action away, we also relinquish our personal power. It is a popular activity with people who want power and don’t know how to create it for themselves. They try to take some or all of yours. If you will agree to let them make the decisions, if you agree to take action on their behalf so that they can realize their choices, you have relinquished your personal power to them.
That is what a hierarchy is all about. Think about these hierarchical structures: the military, the more powerful religious institutions, parent-child relationships, the way government is structured, and the traditional structure of corporations. On a side note, in some cases a healthy shift is occurring in concert with an evolving understanding of what personal power is and why it’s important. The shift is often in the direction of granting more personal power, more ownership and responsibility, more personal satisfaction, because the result is more valuable contribution to the effort being put forth. The shift is in the direction of a contributing synchronistic team rather than a pyramidal structure where the top of the pyramid gets most of the power and goods.
So, we’ve established that you relinquish your personal power when you give away your power of choice and independent action. That in itself, is your choice. It is also your choice whether and when to reclaim it. One more important facet of this choice is when you agree that someone else’s agenda and wishes are more important than your own and you begin to pay more attention to them and their world than your own. There is healthy power in finding and maintaining your own balance, and you just lost that as well.
People love the concept of “altruism” as an ideal for behavior. The Cambridge dictionary offers an insightful definition: “the attitude of caring about others and doing acts that help them although you do not get anything by doing those acts.” It actually isn’t possible. You always get something back by doing “selfless” acts for others. Maybe those actions help you to feel good about yourself, help your sense of self-worth, or perhaps you enjoy the praise that comes after. Some also perform those acts because without them, the person has a very low sense of self-worth or self-justification. Here’s the sticking point: it’s not done from a position of healthy personal balance. The same help can be given from a place of balance. What’s important about that? You are taking responsibility for your own well being while being of service to others.
It’s not a polarized me-or-them thing. It’s more. It’s not exclusive, it’s inclusive. It’s more along the lines of “there’s enough time and space for me to maintain my health and well-being and also be of meaningful service to others”. The same is true for them. This has the potential make a great, mutually nourishing relationship. On this, healthy teams can be built that give power to a common goal, and at the same time nurture each individual within the team. That can help each person involved to maintain a high emotional stance, a very healthy thing in so many ways. In other words, it encourages happiness, meaningfulness, and a sense of fulfillment.
On the level of you, a balanced, inclusive stance acts to nurture you, your emotional well-being, which is always reflected in physical well-being as well. In the next article, let’s take a look at how you can reclaim your personal power.