Why We Give Others Our Power

And (of course) how we can stop

I fancy myself to be a really grounded, centered person.

And I am.

Most of the time, anyway.

This morning I was thrown from that happy warm-fuzzy bubble.

Courtesy iStock

Aghh! Why does that still happen, when I know as much as I know and help as many people as I do?

Why do I still allow someone to take my power?

Now, in all fairness, that someone was my husband. And he wasn’t trying to take my power…

But that’s how it felt at the time.

Imagine, I felt “powerless” in a situation that was quite safe, and was actually feedback on something that I could improve in my business.

Me – a grounded, centered person who does this work as her profession.

And I felt like my power had been taken?

How does that bode for the rest of us?

Oy vey.

Here’s how it went down. I was reading him a very lovely, heart-felt note I received from a student in my Energy Alchemy course. I was celebrating the beauty of this life-changing work. And in essence I was thanking him for continuing to believe in what I do.

You know – happy, warm-fuzzy sorts of feelings.

When somehow – and I still don’t quite know how – he ended up telling me about changes I should (ooooh….there’s that horrid word!) make to the course.

And again, in fairness to him, he is writing a major paper on the most effective ways to make change. And said-paper involves a whole lotta research on learning. And he runs tons of training courses, all over the world. So yes, he most certainly has a level of expertise on the subject.

But in all fairness to me, he wasn’t exactly taking the most empowering, effective-change-making-approach toward me in this conversation. In fact, it felt a bit like I was being bludgeoned with that giant paper he’s been writing.

To my credit, I was aware during the entire exchange.

I was a aware that his approach wasn’t remotely thoughtful or empowering. I was aware that he had some insights that will be very useful, and will most definitely improve my classes, which is turn will benefit everyone who takes the course (yey!). And I was aware that I was shutting down – that my power was draining, like he had uncorked my bathtub-full of warm-fuzzies.

And I was aware that I was totally in charge of either allowing all of this to happen, or not.

And I still allowed it to happen.

That’s what really gets me.

How can I be this aware – even in the heat of the moment! – and still go into that place of feeling like a victim?

(Again I ask, how that bodes for others who aren’t immersed in this energetically-focused lifestyle?)

What I’ve come to understand, after many deep breaths and a few hours of hindsight, is that I chose to let his energy impact me.

It may not have been a deliberate choice, or a conscious one, but the choice was mine nonetheless.

At the heart of it all is the question of how we can care so much about someone – which implies an exchange of energy, or a certain level of vulnerability – and still be at choice in every moment about which energies we’re willing to allow into our system.

Clearly, I’m willing to allow the loving, supportive, nurturing, collaborative energies that come with marriage (and in our case, children).

And I’m also willing to allow the energies of helping each other up our game, improve where we can, and be courageous enough to try new things.

But I am not willing to allow the energies that are not firmly rooted in compassion.

See, here’s what happened in this particular situation: he was trying to be thoughtful and supportive, attempting to offer feedback and strategy on how to quite literally achieve my dreams.

What he failed to do, however, was to root the conversation in genuine compassion.

So it came off as a bit of an attack, or at the very least some unexpected (and unsolicited) finger-wagging criticism.

And let’s get real here for a minute. He’s human. He was on his way out the door to work. He wasn’t thinking of how to be compassionate, but rather how to get a job done. It’s unrealistic to think he’ll live in constant coaching-mode of holding space. He was going about his day.

But that doesn’t even matter. His actions and attitudes are his, not mine.

I alone get to choose how others affect me.

I alone get to decide if my warm-fuzzy plug gets pulled.

Yes, I can argue that he could have taken a more empowering approach and/or chosen a different time to provide the feedback.

But in the end it all boils down to me and my choices on how I literally interpret the world around me – on what I choose to let in and how I choose to let it impact me.

This morning, I did not “choose” to simply observe.

Instead, something inside me became engaged.

I suspect that every single person reading this post knows what I’m talking about here. Whether our examples are with a spouse, a boss, a parent, a child, a friend, or a random cashier – we all confront these junctures daily.

Because as we walk through the world, we are at choice.

We are at choice with how we interpret every situation, event, conversation.

We get to choose.

No one else.

That is how we stop giving others our power.

I now have (yet another) experience to help inform and shape me, the next time such a choice comes my way.

And while I certainly hope I choose differently in the future, I may not.

I may forget again.

I am human too, after all.

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