Welcome to the first post of my Request series! Not long ago I began asking for topics that people might want to know more about. My first official request was to discuss the concept of Power.
What a great suggestion! Power in all its forms is a key part of this thought system. This may well be an ongoing topic.
Let’s start with a definition, shall we? There are many definitions of Power, most of them in context. I believe the most encompassing is this:
A source or means of supplying energy.
As this system defines energy as that which effects a change, Power is then:
A source or means of effecting change.
This fits most or all of the other definitions. If one has no power, it is reasonable to say that one had no ability to create change. If one has great power, it is reasonable to say one can create great change.
A Key Concept
This is a perfect progression for this thought system. This website is dedicated to teaching all people that through our abilities to imagine, to create and to choose, we ALL have great power. And by applying that power effectively, we can create both wonderful and lasting change.
Power can also be abused, can it not? Let us address this for a moment. We will no doubt revisit the specifics of this, but I want to lay a foundation definition of power abuse. Abuse of another person or people violates the sacred ability to choose. When we manipulate, coerce, compel or threaten, we are abusing because we are attempting to minimize or remove the ability to choose. And abusers (I am among them, and you probably are too, even if only a little) justify these actions for all kinds of reasons. And every time it isn’t right. We do not have the right to deny others their right to choose.
A special limited exception applies when one is charged with the safety of another. We can choose to deny others certain choices, not all of them!, in the name of safety, and only as long as necessary to overcome the immediate danger. Essentially, our agency becomes a surrogate for theirs until theirs is again safe to use.
So far as I am aware, this exception only applies when the individual is either unable or unwilling to make a safe decision for themselves. An unconscious person is assumed to want help, and so we choose for them to pursue safety and help. Keeping a toddler from danger against their will is responsible because they are unable to understand the consequences of their actions. Separating a dangerous person from the population according to due process is legitimate because we are acting in the best interest of both personal and public safety. (Proper use and ramifications of our justice system is a topic for another time.)
Other than this, we must allow all the freedom to choose. And when we understand the powerful effect this has, we will begin to embrace it.
The requester of this topic had been experiencing personal growth and struggling to have those in their life acknowledge that growth and the new personal power that comes with it.
Quite simply, we cannot and should not force others to acknowledge our personal truths. More importantly, it is unnecessary to try.
As we live our personal truths, our words and actions will speak for themselves. All of our choices will witness of our new way of being. This presentation of the newly-created circumstances then enables the agency of the perceiver. And that is where our control ends. Once perceived, The observer cannot unperceive it, and must therefore choose a response to it.
Even if that response is derogatory, our conviction to live our truth in the face of disapproval will teach them that we really have changed.
And here is the critical part to obtaining and retaining personal power: We must let them choose their response. We must be comfortable letting them choose, and we must acknowledge their right. Doing so legitimizes our own right to choose. By so doing, we give up control and make way for influence. What we cannot take by force (approval, respect) people will probably give us freely if we allow them the choice.
Growth is the Goal
This action of allowing others to choose and live with those choices is most difficult when we believe comfort, rather than growth, is the sum of life’s pursuits. When we alter our perspective to enthrone growth as the objective, discomfort becomes a necessary building block instead of a burden.
A training athlete is a well-known example of this. No one would claim that rigorous training is comfortable, yet all would acknowledge its necessity to compete. Life and spirituality also require rigorous training to promote growth, which requires the willing endurance of discomfort. And when we see growth as the objective for others, it becomes possible to allow others to own their discomfort, even if its discomfort they have chosen.
That is not to say that we must abandon people to suffering. It only means that we accept their right to choose it if they wish. Suffering can teach us much. When we choose it, we are creating an opportunity to be taught. (Enter from stage left the need for humility!)
We cannot help someone who does not wish to be helped, because it would violate their right to choose. And remember, violating that right is a form of abuse.
Remember: allowing someone the right to choose affirms and enables that right in ourselves. We cannot limit or remove the agency of another without opening the door for the same to be done to us.
There is much left to discuss on this topic, so I’d like to pause (not stop) on the following point:
Power is the means to effect change. In order to acquire power, or influence, one must first understand the laws governing the system. The freedom to choose is one of those laws, and the first pillar in the path to greater personal power.
Today’s invite: Draw a personal boundary for yourself by consciously respecting the agency of another. Liking their choice is not required, nor is giving up trying to positively influence them. But respecting their right to choose will invite them to respect you, and in turn increase your influence with them.