Healing dimensions: Part III
Owning my power
Recently, the subject of power came up in a discussion with my therapist. At one point he suggested that I fear my personal power. In a way I related to what he said, because I have felt helpless about so many aspects of my life throughout my younger adulthood, and especially these past seven years or so since we moved to Philadelphia from Buffalo. I stumbled out to my car and reflected on our talk all the way to work. However, as it so often happens after an eventful and challenging therapy session, I soon lose myself into teaching, writing, and meetings, and I forgot all about his suggestion that I am afraid to feel my power.
This morning as I was jogging slowly along in the brilliant morning sun, flowers bursting out of the trees and yards around, birds chirping and singing, and fellow walkers and joggers passing me by with welcoming smiles and warm greetings – I felt powerful. Sensing joy deep within and an affinity with everything around me, the feeling was palpable. It was right there, in that moment. Indeed, my feet seemed to barely touch the ground with the enormity of the sensation.
I wondered about the idea of personal power. I think I had interpreted it all these years as something aggressive: like being able to laud it over someone, beat them at something by being better than them, get "it" all right and never be wrong, convince others to think or behave like me, be thinner, more beautiful, smarter than everyone else, know it all and if I don't then at least pretend knowing it all. In short, power represented some kind of constant competition – a battle for acknowledgement that I am right, and being able to control to make it happen – that is – force everyone to know it too! Part of what I learned about power had to do with action and reaction. Indeed, it seemed that if I did not react or act immediately I was weak, or would show that someone else had won.
Throughout my reflections this morning during the cool down section of my work-out, I realized that I must have learned this interpretation of power in my early childhood from those nearest and dearest to me, as well as from participating in the competitive culture around me. This represented a way to survive within relationships and in ones professional life. As it became clearer to me I suddenly understood that if this had become my interpretation of power, then of course I would not want it!
Indeed, it was not so much that I feared it, as I had chosen to reject it.
I realized that during my healing process these past several years, I am learning and developing a different kind of strength that is connected to the idea of holding still. The more I learn to hold still the more I am able to let go of that which is not about me, and allow others to accept their own responsibility whether they want to or not. Learning to accept that other people are different from me and I from them, and not struggling to make them replicas of me, or on the other hand, not trying to be like them. Holding still in the moment is teaching me slowly, bit by bit, to recognize, understand and validate my feelings. That way I am sometimes able to plunge through the rage and hurt, and emerge on the other side where forgiveness awaits with open arms to comfort and soothe my wounds.
Even more importantly, I am realizing that holding still means I do not have to act or react in response to everything. Not knowing what to do, or not having all the answers does not have to scare or weaken me. Pain, anger, joy, fear … feelings … are all part of who I am as a human being … are all part of the human condition. If I stay still and work out what I am feeling, I will be able to find solutions later.
Patience makes me stronger.