“The impulse to power is a kind of life force that propels us into the world to sing our song. . . Power is made up of acts that enable us to feel that we are the creators of our own experience.”– Ethel S. Person M.D., author of “Feeling Strong – The Achievement of Authentic Power.”
Are you living a life that is uniquely you, a life that reflects your individuality, follows your intuition, and honors your personal truth?
Or, is life living you?
As one woman said, “I can’t seem to change the script of my life.”
Creating an authentic life requires claiming our inherent power.
Simply put, power is our ability to act. We all have it. We are allowed to use it!
We can honor and access our power by:
- Trusting our intuition and ourselves.
- Claiming our right to choose.
- Taking responsibility for ourselves.
- Taking action.
- Honoring the uniqueness of our individual life.
- Seeing the truth about our lives – this includes seeing what is, feeling what is, saying what is.
- Setting clear boundaries (discussed in chapter 16.)
- Letting go of guilt.
- Stepping out of the victim role.
Claire came to group therapy burdened and in anguish. Her young adult daughter had recently entered a romantic relationship that Claire felt certain would end in heartbreak. This man possessed questionable characteristics and she feared he was taking advantage of her daughter. Claire had warned her daughter of the dangers, but felt powerless in the face of her daughter’s determination to continue the relationship.
While acknowledging the validity of Claire’s concerns, the group leader noted that something deep in Claire’s personal experience was being touched and asked her what that might be.
She sat quietly for a moment noticing the inner experience of her own feelings and breathing into them. Finally she said quietly, “I once had a relationship that reminds me of my daughter’s relationship. I remember how I was so vulnerable, even immobilized, by the disparity of power.”
As the group gave audience to Claire’s exploration of her own experience with a power imbalance, she realized she had tried to compensate by taking advantage of her partner “in sneaky ways.”
“I wasn’t true to myself,” she reflected. The group pointed out that she hadn’t been taking her own power seriously.
“No! And it hurt me.” Claire exclaimed, “and I’m afraid that the same thing will happen to my daughter!” Tears rolled down Claire’s face. “I was the same age my daughter is now,” she said.
The room was hushed by this salient similarity.
With the group’s encouragement Claire began to see that her daughter also had a good chance of learning from her experience and finding her way through it over time. To honor her daughter’s power she needed to let go and trust her daughter’s process. By so doing, she was also not giving her power away to a situation that was out of her control.
Claire’s work was to turn her focus to her own life, while letting her daughter know she would be there for her if needed. She realized she was experiencing a bit of a “power outage.” Her job felt stale. She had been neglecting her self-care. She was allowing other people’s agendas to take over her own desires.
She recommitted to exercising her power to take action. She cut back on work hours so she could pursue her passion for photography. She set clear boundaries about what she was willing to accept with other people’s requests for her time. She returned to her self-care practices.
It is easy for any of us to feel uncertain about our power and how to use it. We begin where we can, with what we have. We all have intuition, which can illuminate the darkest corridor. We can learn how to recognize and trust our intuition. We can claim our right to choose and decide for ourselves. We can commit to living our own unique life without apology.
Years ago, when I turned 40, I went through a major life crisis in which I abandoned much of my own self-empowerment. I ended up dealing with a set of circumstances — some self-created, some imposed — that came close to ruining my life.
A Godsend came in the form of a best-selling book with an odd title. Women Who Run With the Wolves, Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D. became the “river guide” for riding the rapids for a safe journey home to my true self. Its pages were replete with deeply spiritual wisdom both ancient and new, which buoyed me up and carried me along. Now, I had an oar!
Dr. Estes, a practicing Jungian psychoanalyst and Post-Trauma Recovery Specialist has worked with survivors of war, the Columbine School Shooting, and 9/11. Just as important is her own brave survival – the child of immigrant refugees who could not read or write, she grew up in abject poverty. Later in life she navigated the challenge of being a divorced mother of three.
She wrote her book over a period of 20 years. She kept pursuing a publisher even though she received 47 rejections before it was finally purchased. After being published it was on the New York Times Best Seller List for 145 weeks.
My copy is tattered, torn, and marked in multiple colors of ink from my numerous readings. I’m sure at least once I reached a place where I held it against my chest and cried. I was finally able to tell myself the truth I needed to hear and which I now finally believed. I said my truth aloud, “I deserve better than this.”
To realize my worth was a turning point. I immediately began taking action, claiming responsibility, owning my power once again. I shocked myself with the lengths I was willing to go, and the strength and resilience I possessed. After many months of hard work that required all my courage, I had ridden the rapids of that rough river into a place of calm waters, to my true empowered self once again. During my rocky time of grappling with power, one quote in Dr. Este’s book offered me encouragement on numerous occasions.
“There is a wild voice that lives inside all of us, one that whispers, ‘Stay here long enough to revive your hope, to drop your terminal cool, to give up defensive half-truths, to creep, carve, bash your way through, stay here long enough to see what is right for you, stay here long enough to become strong, to try the try that will make it, stay here long enough to make the finish line, it matters not, how long it takes or in what style . . .” Clarissa Pinkola Estes
The journey of owning our power can be precarious at times, but it is worth the courage required because it leads us to an authentic life where the possibility of peace, joy, and love in all its forms are not only possible, but probable.
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Dear Readers, This is an important time. In less than a month the final chapter of “Creating a Life You Love, A Woman’s Guide to Peace, Joy, Empowerment, and Love” will be published here. To celebrate that event I will be presenting a workshop on the book, Sat. June 22, in Vancouver, WA. To get information on this please go to https://www.facebook.com/events/152787474904276/
After the last chapter of the book is posted I will continue to write weekly articles for the site! Create a wonderful week! Tamera