Power. In the evolutionary chapter we find ourselves in, power and the struggle to embody it in ways that are life affirming, not hurtful or harmful to others, remains the essential struggle.
We see macro power struggles played out in the world around us.
Through the debilitating inequities of power in our financial systems…the global surge for power and voice in suppressive political regimes…the power to control and access information in our technology explosion…the monotonous power of our conventional systems of defense, military or law enforcement, used to control anyone or any country exhibiting power that threatens us…and the relentless quest in many societies, including ours, to constrict the value, the freedom and the power of women.
Power finding expression. Power finding parity. We unite across race and class and country to bring balance to macro power disparities as best we can, because the stakes are too high and the costs to our freedoms too great.
It’s hopeful one moment, and crushing the next. The forces for freedom, on the one hand, and control on the other appear locked in a mythic battle. From one perspective, it appears that fewer and fewer of us challenge the dominant global fixation on consumption at all costs.
The majority’s inability to confront intractable assumptions about continued material growth without radically new methods is a choice to condone the ongoing exploitation of humans and nature. Control appears to have the upper hand. Every one of us loses.
Glued to our screens watching the macro power struggles happening around us, we miss the micro power struggles looking for resolution inside us. Science confirms that individual consciousness shapes the world around us. So if we, as individuals, don’t wrestle with the power grabs, the power give-aways, and the power disparities inside us, there is no hope of finding resolution in the power struggles outside us.
I’m not suggesting we halt all purposeful external action. I am suggesting we have neglected the inner battles, the spiritual sides of us, for too long, and we can do both. If we maintain any hope of resolving the unceasing battles in every sphere, we must do both.
Meet the despot or naysayer inside you, trying to live in the same body as the aspiring truth teller, the artist seeking self-expression, the soul longing to live free.
Do we suppress our deeper truths to make sure we don’t rock the boat? Do we contain a soul’s longing in order to protect the people around us from discomfort? Do we censor our own self-expression to keep our place in the hierarchical systems that pays us for our labors as long as we adhere to the conventions they require?
If we do, then we are complicit in the war against life, vitality and freedom. If we do, we have contributed to creating the controlling tyrants and bullies that ravage our human and earth resources. If we do, we have all but disowned the personal power that is rightfully ours.
The control freaks and the bullies inside us only hold sway when we ignore them, pretend they do not exist or simply let them define the experience of our lives. Collectively, we give these characters the most power when we point fingers at the people around us who hold up these perverse, unwanted characteristics like a mirror and we proclaim these “ others” to be the bad ones, thereby imbuing them with the power of our own unexamined shadows.
To claim our personal power, we must pay closer attention to all these oppositional forces inside of us and begin brokering a peace. We must own every aspect of our character, no matter how dark or perverse, and ask from whence they came and what they are asking of us to acknowledge about our unmet needs or deepest longings. And we must traverse these less pleasant byways of ourselves and not succumb to guilt or self-loathing for the feelings they may inspire in us.
To claim our personal power, we have to be willing to let go of the idea of being the “good” girl or boy, the knight in shining armor, the selfless caretaker, the ever steady leader, and accept the idea that we may not be liked or understood, or even seen as successful in the conventional ways. We are invited to understand ourselves as closer to the mythological gods and goddesses who reveal themselves as capable of beautiful creation and awful destruction.
To claim our personal power we must be willing to believe that there is no external solution to an internal problem, which demands a kind of radical intimacy with ourselves.
Radical intimacy with ourselves is an unabridged truth telling. We stop deflecting, numbing or distracting ourselves and instead dare to bear witness to and actually feel our feelings, especially the ones we run from, not just the ones that bolster our sense of adequacy and righteousness. It’s the most courageous path bar none, and it’s the only one that leads us anywhere close to real freedom.
Because when we are fully transparent with ourselves, there is nothing we observe in others that we haven’t also seen in ourselves. Which leads to the ratcheting down of blame, and the scaling up of compassion. Transparency with ourselves softens the internal conflicts and creates a more lasting peace with our partners, our families and the immediate communities that surround us.
Ultimately transparency with ourselves IS our personal power.
Personal power. We are below or above no one. With deep humility, we claim our right to imagine any reality that expands and honors our soul’s song. Living this close to our authenticity shatters the conventions and breaks the established matrix of reality. It’s not even close to comfortable. It feels lonely as hell. Yet over time, other creative, intrepid souls will come to meet us in this new place. A place where we connect without pretending. Where we connect without fear. Where we finally connect for real.
So meet yourself and meet your personal power. Let’s meet there, why don’t we, and create the world anew.
Lisa Fitzhugh, Creative Ground