The Price of Power (Part 3)

by Scott Noelle

Let’s summarize what I’ve been saying about power:

1. You are ALREADY/ALWAYS powerful, because authentic power is an aspect of your innermost being — the essence of Who You Are — but you FEEL powerless when you hold on to disempowering beliefs or perspectives.

2. Most disempowering perspectives involve the belief that your power resides in people or circumstances beyond your control, which leads to confusing power with control, which leads to endless variations of drama, strife, and suffering.

3. Successfully controlling people and circumstances affords a fleeting, shallow sense of power, which I call “pseudo-power.” But the price of a deep, enduring sense of power is letting go of control, letting go of disempowering beliefs, and letting go of the ego’s agenda of “being right” — especially the righteousness of any “victim stories” you’ve been repeating over and over, no matter how seemingly justified. The price of power is taking full responsibility for your experience.

Some people hear that last part and call it “blaming the victim,” but you’re actually being MORE compassionate when you refuse to reduce a person to the role of victim or perpetrator. Authentic power transcends blame, transcends the victim/perpetrator orientation, and isn’t concerned with who’s right or wrong. Beyond those limiting perspectives, you just ARE powerful, and you need only ALLOW the experience of power.

Again: You are NOT responsible for all the nasty things other people do, but you ARE responsible for judging those things to be nasty. And you are responsible for amplifying the nastiness by resisting, resenting, stewing, complaining, commiserating, fantasizing revenge, etc., etc., etc. All such negative experiences arise from THOUGHTS — which you have the power to change!

With a little mindfulness, you can shift your focus from “being right” to feeling good and doing what works best for yourself AND your partners: spouse, kids, friends, co-workers, etc. You’ll feel lighter and more playful, even relative to things you care deeply about. You’ll feel more inspired and creative.

You’ll also realize that sometimes what works best is using your freedom of choice to choose PROTECTIVE actions — removing yourself and/or others from harm’s way or using nonviolent force to prevent harm. And believe it or not, you CAN make such choices without assigning blame or making anyone wrong. You’re simply doing what works.

When you fully OWN your power, you won’t feel compelled to judge, correct, or “fix” those who are still stuck in disempowering perspectives, but neither will you be inclined to commiserate with them. Rather, you will feel compassion for them while holding on to the truth of their authentic power — often without saying a word.

The next time someone tries to enlist you into commiseration about their woes, try this: Just be fully present, open your heart, and listen silently without getting drawn into their drama. Instead, hold on to the thought that they are truly powerful, and trust that they will eventually reconnect with their authentic power. (You can do this for yourself, too!)

Originally published on 2013-01-09
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