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Monday, February 11, 2013

Personal Power

Accept your personal power. I am not speaking of power over others, because that is an empty definition. I am speaking of power over our own lives. How many times have we blamed outside influences as reasons for why our lives are unfulfilled or out of control? How many times have we given others the blame for and the keys to our lives?

Personal power is the feeling of control over your life and a pride in knowing that you can stand on your own decisions. It is recognizing that you have a voice in your life and can make valid contributions to your community. It is seeing that you have much to learn without invalidating the work you have put in thus far. After all, we are works in progress. It is recognizing that others may have opinions about your life, but it is you who choose to internalize those opinions or not. Ultimately we, as adults, are the ones who choose our destinies since we are the ones who must live with the consequences of our decisions. Power is not the freedom from responsibility. It is responsibility. No surprise that so many of us want to give it away!

Years ago, I gave away my personal power by believing that others knew more about what my life should be, than I did. I found myself apologizing for wanting to do certain things or feeling the need to justify my dreams with practical anchors. Okay, you might think that’s stupid. If you do then you’re right. It was. I had no one to blame but myself. I remember believing in myself as a child, but somewhere along that road I gave my power away. It took years of growth, hard lessons and good friends but I did take back my personal power. I will never give it away again.

There are so many ways in which we give that power away - through apathy or fear, in abusive relationships, through conformity, in exchange for approval and through not trusting ourselves as much as the person or established entity we define as “better”, “smarter” or “stronger”. We need to believe in our own worth. By comparing ourselves to others, we never see the whole screen shot. That is not to say that I shouldn’t ask for and take advice. It doesn’t mean that I see myself as ‘knowing it all”, it just means that I am the one who has the right to deem the advice valid as it pertains to myself. I have to feel right with it, because I have to live with it.

Personal power is not to be given away as if it were worthless. Nor is it to be flaunted or used to push others around. Those who paint an image of power, constantly asserting their worth, usually use that image as armor against hurt. (Think back to the class bully in grammar school.) Personal power is meant to strengthen us, so that we can meet our own challenges, make our own choices and set our own goals. When we feel strong within ourselves we no longer need to maintain the illusion of armor. There are those in this world with a sweet tooth for power. We run across these people in all parts of our daily lives. (We see it in government all the time!) They never see themselves as having enough of it and they covet (covet: a word of biblical proportion!) the power of others. The only way that they can gain power over your sense of self worth is if you allow them to have it. No one has the right to make you feel inferior, unless you give them the permission to do so. My mother always said that. Though it’s hardly original, that doesn't make it any less true. Follow your own path honorably. Look upon your choices pro-actively. Weigh advice fairly and along side your own instincts. Trust yourself and always be ready to learn from your own mistakes as well the mistakes of others. We are not perfect, so learning is always an option. And remember that there are always others who look to you for inspiration and strength…if you give it away, what are you saying to them?