In the past several years of my life, I have come to reframe what I think it means to have power.
Thirty years, or so, ago, it seemed people were intoxicated by power. Back then, and throughout my career, I saw power was what it is, I think, normally conceived to be: people who hold a certain amount of institutional sway, a certain net worth, or title. That’s often still true. But more significantly, power was often ‘over’ others and at times, it implied force. Power was exerted, not expressed. And, further, those in positions of power often seemed to oppose others having any. Power was a finite commodity.
If that was power, I didn’t want any part of it. And, I think, as a result, I began to doubt and repress any power I held.
After my accident (more here : https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/last-breath-butterfly-lynn-delgaudio/), I developed a much different, more robust appreciation of the word, and clarity of exactly what it means to me.
In the beginning stages of my healing, “power” meant, simply and literally, the ability to gain some control over my mind and body. That meant gaining control of my thinking, and my reaction to ‘normal’ stimuli that seemed anything but normal to me. I will never forget staring at an aisle of cereal boxes in the grocery store, overwhelmed by the assortment of colors, shapes, fonts and designs, unable to process. The world seemed, at that point, so large, so overwhelming. It was like being a child again, where everybody and everything seemed tall, and new. To re-learn life in midlife was both a liability and a gift.
I think, now, the accident was more of a gift.
My understanding of power changed when I realized that my brain—all our brains—swell on stressful thoughts. That simple acknowledgment led me to a range of lessons and understandings that I perhaps might not have experienced without the accident.
Lesson 1: I get to choose my thoughts. I have the ‘power’ to use deliberate, positive, directed thinking at any moment of any day.
Lesson 2: I have the ‘power’ to heal myself. I’ve always believed this, but this life experience exponentially broadened my understanding of this internal power. This power also relied on wise thinking.
Lesson 3: I had developed a ‘known’ self, that was not in alignment with my ‘true’ self. This brought the most profound understanding of all: by debunking negative thought patterns, I began to close the gap between the known and true self. In doing so, I came to more fully understand ME, and in gaining knowledge of myself – my TRUE self – I became far more self-empowered. This was the greatest gift of all, because in fully coming to know ME, I connected with my purpose, and therefore, my power to choose. To fully understand, power is the ability to make choices for oneself.
I came to fully understand that power cannot be ‘over’ someone, forceful, or finite; rather it is within each of us, always available, in potential perhaps few of us can fully understand. I realized that the resistance or uneasiness I used to feel about my relationship to ‘power’ simply existed because I was perceiving it incorrectly. Now, when I think about the power that I have, I think that it is simply, quietly, but meaningfully, expressing myself with intention borne out of purpose, my unique contribution to the world.
I had, and many of my clients have, in the past, given up substantial amounts of, what is, essentially, a birthright: to become self-realized and self-actualized, utilizing the ability to think what we choose to think, from our own observations in the world; and the ability to use the time we are given in the way we are most passionate about.
To employ healthy, deliberate, thought is, ultimately, is the only true power.
Too many of us, me included, have given away that power to a series of unworthy thieves: Illness, vice, poor employers, competition, raises, an obsession with money, or any other obsession. Lust, or love, or loss, or heartbreak. Constant messaging that targets our primal fears of lack, death, aloneness, etc.
I’ve come, fully, to believe this:
Power is within each of us, accessible and available, at all times, in infinite quantities. It is our choice, whether we to connect to it, but when we do, we are confident and fulfilled. We are no longer threatened by others or by our memories to past events; rather, we have memories and understandings without negative emotions, simply wisdom. We are fully, and unapologetically able to be ourselves, at all times, and in all environments. And, we know that we can handle what comes—and not allow ourselves the thoughtlessness of expectation. Our circumstances do not dictate our happiness. Not only, then, can we surrender to what comes—we all but ensure it is a glorious path, along the way.