“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” Mahatma Gandhi
“It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Transforming and Deploying Your Power
In the last few years, on a macrocosmic, global level, we have born witness to the extreme costs in terms of human life and the degradation of human rights wrought through abuses of power by governments, large institutions and dominant social, racial or economic groups. For an example we need look no further than the tragic events unfolding in Syria or the ever-increasing control being asserted over women’s bodies the Arab world as well as in the United States (by virtue of a remarkable and hostile attempt to role back women’s reproductive rights).
Further, even those fighting against abuses can’t always resist becoming abusers themselves. For instance, accusations of human rights abuses have now been levied against the victorious rebels in Libya.
Finally, Egypt has shown us that a system built on domination and control can be very difficult to reform.
The corrupt use of power seems to permeate governments, organizations, and indeed, entire cultures, in such a way that is frightening, especially to those who have been on the receiving end of abuse. Further, distorted power can be quite difficult to eradicate once the abuses have been institutionalized.
And how do we fare on a microcosmic, individual level? Not much better. It seems so many of us have been on the receiving end of abuse, sexual, physical and emotional at the hands of parents, teachers and other authority figures, not to mention co-workers and other peers who will stop at nothing to advance themselves or their agenda. It is no wonder we have a distorted relationship with our own power.
When the use of power goes wrong, it seems to go wrong in a dramatic manner and its impacts are significant.
Perhaps most tragically, in the face of so many abuses a good number of us have permitted emotional wounds and disappointments to make us passive. We have abdicated our power. We don’t want to be identified with power because in so many ways, power appears to be synonymous with the abuses we have suffered as well as the abuses we witness every day. After all, most people don’t want to think of themselves as a lesser version of Bashar al-Assad and no one is particularly anxious to fight with him, at least not on a conscious level.
Ironically, however, we often also unconsciously adopt reactive domination and control strategies as a kind of automatic defense against the perception that we are being dominated or abused. Hence when people rise up against the abuses perpetrated against them, many times we encounter a seemingly baffling result: Victims turn into perpetrators through a misplaced desire to exact revenge or to insure that they, themselves, never suffer abuse again. In this manner, a system based upon abusive power replicates itself.
We become passive victims and reactive victimizers. That is to say, we are passive when we ought to consciously employ our personal power for the purpose of advancing our lives in a positive manner and we are reactive when our defense mechanisms are triggered in a moment of fear, anger or distress. When we are reactive, we act, but our actions are unconscious. Our reactivity keeps us locked into unconscious, destructive action. In this reactive state, we are often alienated from ourselves as well as potential allies. Our passivity, by contrast, often manifests in the form of denial, magical thinking and/or day dreaming that takes the place of grounded, empowered action. Through our passivity, by default, we choose to remain victims to things that do not serve us. Further, our desires never manifest because manifestation requires grounded, directed, conscious action.
There is a better way!
Are you ready to transform your relationship with power and to deploy your personal power in support of a better future for yourself, your loved ones and your community?
In order to transform your relationship with power, you will need to recognize that negative images of power are cultural constructs. They have some basis in observations from events that clearly do occur routinely in our everyday lives. That doesn’t mean they are correct or complete. Power itself is not inherently bad. It depends on how you wield it. You have to decide. Will you use your power in a reactive fashion to defensively dominate and control the people around you or will you use your power in a constructive manner to:
- Follow the guidance of Spirit by accessing your power of discernment and intuition;
- Formulate a positive vision for your life and your contribution to your family and your community through the power of your imagination;
- Manifest the resources, relationships and structures necessary to advance your dreams and positively impact your family or community by engaging your creative capacity;
- Communicate effectively through your power of expression (including through the creative use of silence); and
- Undertake empowered, conscious action to ground your creations and advance your life by engaging your power to accomplish?
Will you allow your emotional disappointments and wounds to keep you locked into victimization and passivity or will you take ownership of and responsibility for your life and your contribution to the planet by examining and altering the psychological and behavioral patterns that prevent you from undertaking conscious steps to:
- Care for and nurture yourself, your creations and those you love;
- Act on your own behalf and in the best interests of the people around you;
- Communicate your needs in an empowered, constructive, non-violent manner;
- Listen effectively;
- Express your authentic emotions;
- Remove yourself from abusive situations;
- Set appropriate limits and boundaries;
- Build solid foundations for yourself, your family and your dreams;
- Bring things to completion; and
- Make an impact.
If you truly want to transform your relationship with power and deploy it for the advancement of your dreams and your community, you must take responsibility for the patterns in your life, for transforming your emotional wounds and for reversing the normal course of action. You must learn how:
- to process and release your pain;
- to resonate with the things that will lead to fulfillment, joy and greater freedom;
- to engage in consciously active behavior in situations that once evoked passive responses; and
- to behave in a consciously nonreactive manner when confronted with situations that once triggered reactive domination and control strategies.
Finally, you must couple your use of power with loving kindness and compassion for yourself and for those around you. Loving kindness and compassion transform the potential for the abusive deployment of power into the potential for empowered action. Power over others becomes the power to transcend your wounds and karmic patterns and to accomplish the things you once categorized as lofty fantasies.
Loving kindness and compassion become possible in an atmosphere of grace and awareness. You become willing to see with clarity and you begin to believe that it is not necessary or desirable to use violence, actual or metaphorical, in order to guard against negative outcomes or safeguard the things you need. In this way, it becomes possible to receive and to create with grace and ease. It also becomes possible to extend loving kindness and compassion to those who are trapped in the passive reactivity that you are moment by moment learning to transcend through your awareness and your abiding love for yourself.
Do not mistake loving kindness for the abdication of power or for cowardice. Those who have most exemplified a commitment to non-violent, conscious and compassionate assertions of power have shown us their courage and their dignity over and over again as is perhaps best exemplified by the words (and actions) of Mahatma Gandhi. He once said, “I cannot teach you violence, as I do not myself believe in it. I can only teach you not to bow your heads before anyone even at the cost of your own life.” He also said, “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” It was Gandhi’s commitment to leaving behind the strategies and systems of the dominate or be dominated paradigm that ultimately freed India. Similarly, it was Jesus’ commitment to conscious and compassionate activism that ultimately exposed the corruption of the Jewish religious authorities and revealed the fallacy and powerlessness exemplified by the system of false morality by which they lived.