Power Over, Power Under, Power In, Power With
Power is almost a dirty word. We don’t speak about power. Unless, of course, we already feel powerful. Most of us don’t feel powerful. We might judge ourselves to be intelligent, organized, careful, but rarely would we describe ourselves as powerful. Yet, we wish for power, even long for power.
So, what exactly is power? The dictionary definition isn’t much help; “ the ability to do something or act in a particular way, especially as a faculty or quality”. The question for me, is how do I act with power that I know about, act with awareness. Often, I find that I wield an unknown power, a sense of having something moving through me that I can’t control, or can’t stop. I identify that sense of energy as power, but often it comes as a feeling of loss of power, or what I would call “power under” or “power over”.
Power under is about feeling “under it,” overwhelmed, lost, out-of-control. None of these seem too desirable. Yet, they are not uncommon experiences for many of us. Power over is about feeling strong and able, feeling ready and energized, yet often power over is also about feeling alone, isolated and afraid underneath. We know about power over because it is everywhere around us. Power over is the dominant cultural mode, a mode we almost without thinking agree to, work with and work under.
Power in means knowing what is true for you, knowing what you want. You may not know how to get it, but you know what you are looking for, what is meaningful for you, what you desire. Power in is critical for life. If you don’t know what is true for you, or what you want, you will keep getting what you don’t want, keep feeling like you are missing out. When you develop ways to know what is true for you, ways that allow you to access your knowing on the spot, life may not be easier but your choices will be informed and powerful for you.
Power with, strangely, is the most foreign to many of us. Power with is means making a relationship, feeling the energy born of asking, engaging with another human being. Power with feels vulnerable, tender. Power with creates openness, possibility. Power with means we invite and allow change, input. Power with means we are not alone in our journey. We go with, we learn with, we create with.
What kind of power do you have right now?
What kind of power do you want?
Where and when do you feel yourself to be powerful?
I’d really love to hear from you on this topic!
And next week, more on power with as it shows up in our world these days…