Do You Give Away Your Power?
This has never been a political blog and, unless a psychic or shaman is elected in the future, never will be. But I’d be remiss in not acknowledging how the Trump-on-the-bus episode has made me think about being a woman in this world. Have I been treated with disregard or disrespect on the street, in a conference room, in relationships because I’m a woman? Not often. Not really. I have never felt shorted on the job, been denied an opportunity, rarely been ogled in away that made me feel uncomfortable (one of the few benefits of not having breasts?), or been treated as less by the men in my life because I’m a woman. In fact, I’ve been harboring a hint of guilt for not having my own sex-shaming story to corroborate, like my dear friend Caroline, who was raised in an religiously conservative Midwestern community that continues to place a higher value on males (you can hear her uncensored story on the Liturgist’s ‘Woman’ podcast). What I have become keenly aware of, however, are the other ways in which I give away my power. Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?
- Not saying something when you see something. A parent yelling at a child at Target. A pet owner being physically abusive with a dog in public. It’s not your business, but what about when it feels like your place? Safety first, always, but sticking up for someone who can’t stick up from themselves is one of the most powerful uses of your personal power.
- Hiding your feelings from a partner. Or from anyone with whom you have a significant relationship. You want to keep the peace. You want to be loved and accepted. You want to be “easy” or “agreeable.” But when you don’t express your true nature, you are not only creating a false sense of trust and intimacy in the relationship, you’re turning away from yourself. You’re giving away your power to fear.
- Addiction of any kind. It doesn’t have to be drugs or alcohol, rather any unhealthy habit we repeatedly use to medicate our anxiety or hide from our emotions. I drink and eat, but I also am addicted to talking about my anxiety (see: this blog) because it keeps me from having to change or do something that I’m afraid of doing—like face my fears that I won’t be lovable if I don’t have an impressive career or bank account.
- Ignoring finances. Watch any episode of Suze Orman and you know that your relationship with money is a reflection of your relationship with yourself. Close your eyes and plop down your credit card or ignore those 401k invitations from your employer and you disrespect what you’ve built. When you don’t spend and save consciously, in a way that honors how hard you’ve worked, you give away your power.
- Skipping the self-care. Working out, meditating, taking a bath, cultivating friendships . . . . these aren’t optional when you know understand that healthy human beings require recharging on a regular basis. Other people might need you—your spouse, your kids, your boss—but consistently using them as an excuse to put yourself last is one of the sneakiest way to give away your power. Ask yourself: Why aren’t you worth your time and energy?
Power isn’t about having control over people or your circumstances. It’s quite the opposite. By empowering ourselves to honor ourselves, we let go of the need for everything and everyone else to be a certain way. We find peace in the knowledge that we are living OUR best lives, with the best of intentions. Let the chips fall gently where they may.