How to Retain Your Power
Updated: Jul 11
“Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power”
- Lao Tzu
Much of the work that we do in terms of teaching personal resilience and wellbeing involves conservation of energy.
In the modern world it is easy to become overwhelmed.
At the end of a busy day or week we can often feel too fatigued and depleted to enjoy the time that we have planned with our loved ones or to engage in leisure activities.
This is because it is a modern human habit to either consciously or unconsciously give away our energy or power to the external environment.
When we walk towards Self-mastery we aim focus on conservation of that power. This helps us to retain enough energy for a good balance of activities within our lives.
We are not referring to power as it might be thought of in modern terms, for example money, political influence, status, reputation or physical strength and might.
Power is best described as that which cannot be taken away from us.
Money, political influence, possessions, relationships, status, reputation, strength, and might can all be taken away.
What cannot be taken away is our choice as to how we respond to any situation and what we choose to take or learn from it.
On surviving life in a total of four concentration camps Viktor Frankl wrote “the one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.” He was talking about personal power.
Let us focus on how we might retain power.
Retaining power means not giving it away or allowing it to be taken.
When we respond to a trigger, we give our power away to it.
Examples of this include:
Taking the bait during an argument
Becoming offending by someone making a comment
Engaging in a passive aggressive interaction
Contributing to gossip
Becoming fearful on watching the News
Buying a product as a result of seeing an advertisement
Responding emotionally to a tragic story that is being told to us by a friend
Becoming angry at injustice on behalf of another person
Engaging in empathy – that is, projecting our own negative emotions onto another person in an effort to understand their distress.
These are power or energy leaks.
Some further examples include:
Making ourselves a victim of something.
Selling out to something.
Engaging in self-sabotage.
Pleasing others out of a need to be liked.
Staying silent to keep the peace.
Perceiving that we want or need something, be it a material object or a change in circumstances and imagining that it will bring us happiness, thereby making ourselves unhappy without it.
Giving something so much of our attention through worry, that expands proportionately to take up even more space in our lives.
Why then do we give our power away?
When we make someone or something external to us responsible for our happiness or distress, we do not have to be accountable for the result.
Accountability is terrifying. If I am accountable, then I have to own all of the outcomes both positive and negative – it is a heavy burden.
If I can hold another person, a system or a situation responsible for my distress, I do not have to take action to fix it.
Often it feels both safer and easier to remain stuck in an unpleasant situation than to take responsibility for our responses and move through it to the other side.
When we do this however – we have paid for our sense of safety with our power.
If we work towards becoming fully conscious of where our power lies and utilising it to its full potential, we become immune to any outside influences because we choose how they affect us.
We become bullet proof.
Set the intention to become fully conscious of where your power lies in every situation.
Practise the art of observation.
This means stepping into the shoes of your Observer Self. This is the part of you that can bear witness to what you are thinking, feeling and doing in all situations without taking part. There is no judgement or analysis here either. You are simply noticing what you are doing with your power with light curiosity.
The purpose of regular, meticulous observation is to pick up unconscious patterns of behaviour. By observing them you make them conscious.
Often observation of your habits with power alone is enough to affect change but once you have noticed your own patterns, you can progress to gently ‘playing’ with the idea of retention by choosing differently and observing the outcome.
For more insights and a host of tools and techniques for exploring the Self and improving your
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