Friday, March 11, 2011
My son, Devin, like myself at his age, has a loving fascination for superpowers. He's 5 years old, and ever since he first soaked up the concept, he's probably played at having around 50 distinct superpowers. I still love making up superpowers, like the ability to remember everything, or super-patience - the power to make someone else patient.
Due to the fact that superpowers like running at supersonic speed or x-ray vision haven't yet graced our lives, maybe the grown-up thing to do is to play with our real powers, and put them to good use! But what are these so-called "real powers"? Hmmm. When I free-associate on personal power of the kind that a powerful person has, this is what comes out:
control, force, strength, mind games, wealth, authoritarian, etc.
When I think of personal power, as in "finding my power" it changes to:
inner strength, love, creativity, spirituality, freedom, connectedness, confidence, etc.
Comparing these two thesaurus entries from my brain (let's call them "bully" and "lover" for short), a dual realization, unexpected and clear, hits me: first, "lover" is about opening up and using what is truly me; second, "bully" is the kind of power that I am believing most powerful people have - I'd describe it as manipulative and mostly matches the attributes of a bully. I suppose that comes from an awareness of the existence of so many seemingly powerless people. Shouldn't powerful people empower powerless people? Ahhh, but did you catch my judgments in there?? Cool, so I judge powerful people (AND powerless people). But once I blast through those judgments, it's clear that personal power is what we decide it is for ourselves, and can only be given to us by us.
Looking to others to see us as powerful in order to feel that we can then accept our talents as worthy of being called "powerful"? That doesn't seem like an empowering position. Besides, I may think of President Obama as powerful, but for all I know, he may be feeling powerless. The Option Institute has a program called "Empower Yourself" that begins with the teaching that an empowered person knows what they want and believes they can get it. Check out Bears talking about it.
Power doesn't come from how much we have or what we can do. It comes from belief in ourselves and what we are wanting for ourselves. Superhuman strength to stop moving trains may not be on the menu for me, but I can decide what my power is -- and to use it. Again, it doesn't matter if it's recognized, because I'm feelin' it. WOW! Hey, Devin! Let's play with our powers!
Power P.S.! If everyone has a power, it's not a superpower anymore. But that doesn't make it any less super :)