Recently I was told by a man that if I only stepped into my power, I could be such a powerful force.
So you get to define power and then assess whether or not I am powerful!
In my past, I have doubted my expressions and sense of power so many times. Standing next to & co-facilitating with men, I have been belittled by being called ‘sweet’ by participants who cannot see beyond the ‘yang’ of power. I have triggered women who want to see me perform their definitions of power and were disappointed.
One of the benefits of ageing is that my body will not tolerate things it used to.
When I puff myself up to put on an act of being ‘powerful’, every cell in my body starts rebelling in protest, and the memories of exhaustion surface from the too many times in my life when I have done this, and acted out of integrity.
I’m so tired of ‘fake’ power and limited definitions of what power is.
I have been taught that to be powerful is to be loud.
To always know. To have a plan. To appear confident. To be impenetrable. To be seen. To have and use force.
I was never taught, or had few role models or mentors that embodied the power of listening, the power of surrendering to the unknown, the power of invisible weaving, the power of going to the scariest places inside myself and coming out the other side, the power of being broken open, the power of asking for help and receiving it, the power of honesty and vulnerability and owning humanness and feeling the connection to life, the power of softness and its ability to melt, the power of harnessing the energy and wisdom of emotions, the power of feeling the ‘we’ and our relatedness, the power of kindness.
I don’t claim to fully understand what we mean by using the word ‘power:’ I’m still figuring it out, enquiring into the moments I feel empowered and disempowered. But I do know that our collective definitions are outdated, and even the most progressive and switched on of us, struggle with this. And even the most progressive men, often still unconsciously belittle women (I know that happens the other way around as well!).
Power is not always ‘yang’ in its nature. To think so is both exhausting – especially to those of us more inherently yin – and also just not very clever, as we’re dismissing the balance and the wisdom that comes from the yin, which the world needs.
And finally, I think that to see it as solely something we individually possess, comes from our disconnected, wounded mindset of individualism.
I believe there is a place for the individual: shining our lights brightly and inspiring others in our leadership, but there is also a power that comes from seeing beyond the ‘I’ and feeling ourselves as part of something bigger.
Perhaps we need more than one word for power.
I’m curious: how do outdated expressions and definitions of power affect you?