“If personal power cannot be taken, but only ceded or surrendered…
(with the exception of children, animals and the disadvantaged)
When in my life have I given away my power?”
Hello lovely human….
This was a question I was recently asked in a group setting. I quickly jotted down an entire page of answers. Honestly – I had a lot to write. This is a subject I have made a long, thorough and lifetime study of. Perhaps you could say it one of the things I came here to master.
I jokingly say I’ve earned my PhD in this particular area.
My own experiences and subsequent understanding of this subject really are rather comprehensive – All the way from surrendering my personal power and inner authority so thoroughly that I almost died, to resting in an inner knowing and command more vast and complete than I could ever have imagined and everything in between.
I’m sharing my answers to that question with you here.
Perhaps what follows will hold a nugget or two that will be of use as you traverse your own inner hero/heroine’s journey of living ever more fully into your intrinsic holy/wholeness.
Once again the question was –
If personal power cannot be taken, but only ceded or surrendered…
When in my life have I given away my power?
– When I believed I did not have the answers for my own life.
– When I wanted someone to tell me what to do. Give me the answers. Take care of me. Save me.
– When I wanted a “savior”.
I did this because I was in confusion, unclear, overwhelmed and not trusting myself.
I was not able to listen to or hear my own knowing.
I gave my power away…
– When I believed “they” knew more than me.
– When I doubted myself or didn’t trust myself.
– When I believed someone else had answers I did not have the ability or confidence to discern for myself.
– When I felt unsafe, overwhelmed, trauma triggered, left my body or abdicated self-responsibility in some way.
– When I felt power-less so I sought to experience power externally.
I gave my power away …
– When I did not know how to appropriately ask for help, support or how to get my own needs met.
– When I didn’t know I COULD ask for support or assistance or get my needs met or that I even HAD needs.
I gave my power away…
– In situations where I have believed or made someone else’s needs more important than my own.
– When I wanted some kind of validation of my own value by over-giving to another.
– When I wanted to make everything nice, pleasant or “better” somehow. (In other words, I was taking responsibility for things that were most always not mine to try to make myself feel safer. Which at the end of the day, never worked.)
– When I moved into the role of Rescuer. (Which is anytime I have said to myself there is something “wrong” with something and I am the one who needs to “fix it.”) See above!
I am more likely to give my power away…
– When I go unconscious.
– Move too fast.
– Stop listening to myself, my body, my senses of discernment.
– Forget to breathe.
The people I have surrendered my inner authority and power to have been – lovers; husbands; partners; teachers; parents; family members; friends; doctors; caregivers; spiritual practitioners; anyone I have seen as an authority or knowing more than I, want to please or appease in any situation.
“They’re in charge, seem confident, etc – so they must know more than me.”
I have yielded my power to ideas; perspectives; ideologies; lifestyles or dogmas I have adopted from something outside of myself – parents, cults, groups, tribes, books, political parties. You get the idea.
The very real need to belong is a very strong unconscious pull in this.
Other times it has been things others have told me about myself – both positive and negative. In other words, I allowed someone else to tell me who I am, what I was feeling or my “true” intent.
The common element in ALL of this – is that the origin is outside of me.
It would be easy to look back and swallow the following lies.
That I should have known better.
That there was something wrong with me.
That I was doing “it” wrong.
That I was the cause of this.
That I was broken, damaged or totally screwed up because I walked into and willing gave my power away in so, so, soooo many instances.
And for a while I did.
It would seem natural that I might be mired in the stickiness of shame from living through these experiences.
And for a while I was. I did everything in my power to hide the ugliness, the not rightness inside because I couldn’t bear anyone to see the hideous “truth” about me.
Thank goodness this began to unravel. I can tell you with all seriousness I would not be here if it had not. The despair of believing all those lies was quite loud and deep.
Here’s a tiny bit of what I discovered as truth for me to help me counter the lies. To untangle and create some spaciousness in the inner web of misunderstandings and misconceptions that kept me bound and separated from my own intrinsic power.
First and foremost, the vast majority of what is underneath giving our power away is unconscious and rooted in our personal or familial history. Programming and early overlays, unhealed trauma and childhood decisions about the way things are – made early in life before we truly had any power – are a few of the underground causes of ceding power.
It is important to remember that these causes are most often running outside of our awareness. I did not understand how dangerous it was when as an exhausted single mom with very young children and lots of unhealed trauma I just wanted someone to tell me what to do, how to get through all of it. Take care of me.
I did not know what I was doing when I was in the midst of any of this. It is only with hindsight that I have been able to go back, and gently discern what the underlying need I was trying to get met at the time. What my underlying intention, my motivation was.
We cannot know what we do not know or have not been taught. To believe otherwise keeps us firmly fettered in the quagmire of despair.
I don’t know about you, but my family and the institutions I grew up in certainly did nothing to teach me to listen inside, trust my own inner knowing, my body senses, my intuition – in essence to trust myself.
This is not because my parents were bad parents, it is because they too were operating within a society where the misuse and distortion of power was the norm – the ocean that we all swam in. This IS changing and each of are the vehicle for that shift.
Just like a toddler learns to walk by trial and error, by falling down, getting back up and doing it over and over again, finding balance, learning nuance in different situations – we learn the skills of being an empowered human by relinquishing our power over and over in a myriad of ways. We experience the consequences, make course corrections – until we begin to learn how to do something different.
Any power undermining behavior playing out is simply what we do – until we don’t.
Beating ourselves up, judging ourselves harshly for not knowing what we didn’t know or able to discern is one of the most hurtful and shame inducing things we do to ourselves as humans.
Let’s make a pact, you and I to stop that.
To bring mercy, forgiveness, generosity of spirit and compassion to our beautiful-human-selves every opportunity we get. Every time we remember.
And even more generously when we forget.
Always bring more love to the situation, not less.
It is vital to begin to see where we as individuals have experienced erosion in the foundations of our own inner power and authority. To begin to suss out the mechanism, situations and patterns at play.
We all have patterns of giving our inner power and authority to someone or something as default, out of ignorance, fear, patterning or inattention in small and sometimes large ways.
It is time to both fiercely and gently take it back, dear one.
We are the adults now. We are in charge of ourselves, our choices. We have the privilege and responsibility to tend to our own inner gardens.
We cannot truly begin to change the power structures outside of us until we have taken up the heroic task of changing them internally.
We cannot say no to the bully, the petty tyrants outside without understanding what runs the bully within.
I believe that until we understand how we are misusing our own power by giving over our own power and authority to any “other”, we cannot begin to unravel the mind-bending misuses of power on display all over our precious planet.
And to be crystal clear, in case this has not been – standing in your own power and inner authority does NOT mean having power over any other in a way that causes them harm or is in violation of their inner power and authority.
This is very tender work, dear one. It is deeply intimate.
It requires a whole-hearted and abiding commitment to yourself. To the ultimate power that flows though you from the Source of All That Is.
It requires bottomless self-compassion, tenderness, kindness toward self and a deep well of patience.
And most all of the understanding that this is a process. A becoming. A life-time endeavor. Something we are unraveling for ourselves as well as collectively – for ALL of humanity. For the future generations.
Creating the world we wish to live in, one moment, one small inner awareness, one small course correction at a time.
This is what fortifies us to stand in truth and say no to the nonsense in the outer world. By saying no to the nonsense within ourselves.
I’m not broken and neither are you.
There IS nothing wrong with you. Or me.
You are a divine child of the Source of All That Is, as am I.