It’s funny that the posts I intend to write are never the ones that end up being written – at least right away. There’s usually something else on my mind, something deeper that I have to dive into. Something I haven’t acknowledged in my conscious state that finds its way through this mode. Today I was hoping to talk about shame in relation to work, which is definitely coming soon, but instead, I’m going to discuss power. Specifically, I’ll be talking about the power people hold over you. Or rather, the power we allow people to hold over us.
Power is an interesting thing. As a child and growing up, I recognized it as something fatalistic; an egoic way of being. If your life were directed towards gaining power, then you were likely on the wrong path. I understood power in relation to anger. Both of them must coincide, I assumed, mostly because that’s the way I saw it play out in my own home. Power was inflated with money and anger. Power instills fear in others. In the spectrum of a black and white world, power is the most negative of them all.
As I grew, I found myself battling others in a way that I refused to let them have power over me. I was a variation between a pushover and someone who was obstinate. I became better and better at catching someone when they were trying to take advantage of me. In the same respect, I put myself down every time I let it slide and forgave them without even acknowledging the matter of fact. In some cases, I find that I really was getting better at recognizing the parasites I allowed into my life. In other cases, I was only inflating my triggers.
I was an extremist – either letting people walk all over me or cutting them out cold. There was no room for compromise. In my world, there was no reason for it to exist at all. I like giving everything I have to the people I love, but I found that I often attracted those who simply liked to take. So my theory of power therefore was proven time and time again.
In psychology, this sort of behaviour is theorized as the confirmation bias – aka, as the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of your existing beliefs or theories. I was looking for these people, attracting them, for the sole purpose of remaining consistent in my belief.
These people in my life were power-hungry, I imagined. That must be the case. And I, aloof, ignorant, and not nearly as self-aware as I am today, can only continue to get caught in their web. There are only two types of people in the world: Those who want power, and those who want freedom. I, of course, fell on the latter. That’s the way I understood things to be. It was easy, simple, and black and white. But now I understand that it’s also not true.
I think I reached a point where I was willing to be more openminded with what power can actually mean. And from there, I learned that power has its own spectrum and that spectrum is dependant on intentionality. The truth is, there is nothing simple about what this word really means and similar to success, it can vary from person to person, depending on their beliefs and experience in the world. But in general, I think of power as the ability to have an effect on others whether that’s on a small or large scale.
If that’s true, then where power is rooted from is really who you are, because as we all know, our energy transfers and connects. Our effect on others, therefore, is contingent on our relationship with ourselves. Funny how everything always trickles down to this.
Whether we are aware of it or not, we have an effect on every person we meet, and even those we just walk next to on the street. We have an effect on our friends, our family, our partners, our neighbours, our co-workers, our clients. That is power. How we use that, and what we use it for, well, that’s dependant on our own nature. It’s easy to presume a negative connotation of power, but it’s like the sun. It can give you nutrients. It can shine light on your day. It has been proven to have a huge effect on your mood. But then again, it can also burn you. It can blind your eyes. It can do a lot of damage. But experiencing any of these results doesn’t make us turn to the sun and instill some sort of persona upon it. It just is what it is. Not good or bad, but whatever you make of it.
Another example being money – something many of us, myself included, have had a negative mindset about or maybe still do. But money is just a resource. How you use it is dependant on you.
When I understood ‘power’ in that same manner, it felt like everything shifted for me. For one, I didn’t feel like I had to submit to weakness only to avoid being egotistical. And secondly, I felt this sort of strength within myself (that was always there) finally find a space to expand itself. Having this belief system not only meant holding myself back, but it also meant actively suppressing certain parts of myself simply out of fear.
Like Leon Brown once said, “It all begins and ends in your mind. What you give power to, has power over you, if you allow it.”