This post may be a little jumbled, because I haven’t reached any conclusions yet. I hoped that by now I would, but I guess we’re still in the incubation phase.
I’ve been thinking a lot about power. It seems to be a theme in the books I’m reading, the movies I’m watching, and the news that filters through to me.
What is it about power? Here are some things I’ve noticed.
If we look at power as an energy, it must have a source. Electricity can be power, as can heat, so can nuclear fusion. In fact, food is often measured by its potential energy. After all, a calorie is the amount of energy one must expend to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water 1 degree Celsius.
Electricity and the Sun give off light. Fire gives off light and heat. Steam propels.
But there’s also context for power. And in the context of human dynamics, Power is authority, control, and influence, usually over something or someone.
I think power is a very central theme in all of our lives, as it should be. And often a lot of our fears originate from a feeling of powerlessness.
Last Friday I linked to this post from one of my classmates from the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.
Will losing the fat mean that I’ll be blissful and forget all the insights about myself that I’ve gained through the dieting? Will my struggles be erased from my memory when the weight is no longer there to remind me of what I’ve been through?
And listen to this excerpt from an article about self-sabotage.
The first thing I’ll say is that often, when we fear a situation will come to pass, we have the tendency to create that situation ourselves. We do this for two reasons: first, to give ourselves a sense of control—if we create the thing we fear the most, we get to choose when and how it happens, and frees us from the sense of forboding (waiting for the situation to occur). Second, we create that situation so we get to be right — “See, I told you XYZ would happen. I just knew it!” Don’t underestimate the importance of feeling right—our brains crave that, and we will take drastic measures to ensure it happens.
So Power can be tied to story. It can be tied to success. To being right. It can be tied to the approval and admiration of others. It can be tied to achievement, or to money. It can be tied to knowledge.
But why is it tied to all these things? These are all external, often human creations. These things, if they are the only sources of power, means that to be powerful, you must be found powerful.
But who is finding you powerful? To whom have you given that authority? Why? When do you find YOURSELF powerful?
Is there another way? Are there other definitions of power that are self-sustaining and self-sufficient, maybe augmented by external things?
So are there ways to set aside the cultural context of power for a moment? Are there ways we can just look at personal sources and expressions of power?
Maybe looking at the qualities of feeling powerful:
[+capable] [+strong] [+self-sufficient] [+alert] [+kind] [+aware] [+embodied] [+meditative] [+full of possibilities] [+with plenty of options] [+sovereign] [+clear-minded] [+passionate] [+radiant] [+genuine] [+authentic] [+orgasmic] [+resolute] [+confident] [+trusting] [+supple] [+yielding] [+open-minded] [+knowledgeable] [+helpful]
I’m sure there are a million others, but maybe this can be a start. You can tell me more in the comments.
Have you ever felt any of these qualities? Did you also feel powerful? What were you doing? What fueled you? And how did you express this power? Are these feelings easy for you to access?
I think this topic will require more incubation, but it’s worth exploring. I’m interested to know if there are ways to feel powerful that have nothing to do with society or with other people. Like a fire that burns just for you. And maybe your interactions with people, your achievements at work, your food choices, your method of exercising, your choices in books and movies, maybe all these things can fuel that fire, just as logs added to a fire cause it to burn brighter and longer. But the loss of any of these things will not diminish your light. Likewise, having toxic things in your life may waste your power.
I want to find ways of exploring your personal sources of power and how you express that power. Does that make sense? Any thoughts here?