Over the last few weeks, I have had cause to ponder the differences between “power” and “strength”. Personal power, self-power, empowerment… these are all terms used every day by many people. I am discovering that each of us defines power quite differently, and many of us may not recognize that power has an important spiritual component.
To me, power is that personal internal strength we have that allows us to stand in our truth, to be in alignment with our core values and to act from a place of respect and honour with everyone in our lives.
This distinction came up in several healing sessions recently, with clients who felt that they had “claimed their power” but wondered why they weren’t happy and why their relationships with others were deteriorating. I asked them to describe their power. What I heard was manifestations of control, dominance and judgment. They had confused this with strength, with true power.
How do we recognize the difference? How do we know we are living from a place of power and not a place of domination? For now, let us compare “true power” with the shadow side of power, “dominance”:
- True power is collaborative. Dominance dictates.
- True power invites. Dominance demands.
- True power is harmonious. Dominance is confrontational.
- True power values the ideas and values of others. Dominance does not respect diversity of opinion.
- True power listens and asks questions. Dominance talks without invitation.
- True power is adaptive and creative. Dominance is rigid and rule-bound.
- True power recognizes accepts responsibility for individual choice, for both success and failure. Dominance blames others for failure.
- True power seeks balance. Dominance wants control.
- True power knows when “enough is enough”. Dominance wants it all.
- True power comes from love and self-confidence. Dominance comes from fear.
- True power comes from spirit. Dominance comes from ego.
If you feel you have shifted from true power to dominance, think about what changes you can make now in order to shift back, and how you can raise your awareness. Seek to understand why the shift has taken place: what are you afraid of losing? One of the most powerful questions is to start asking yourself “Why Am I Talking? “ (WAIT). If you find that you are predominantly talking from a place of ego (e.g. giving your opinion and advice before being asked for it, telling people what to do, etc), ask yourself what you would do differently if acting from a place of true power, love and spirit.
We see examples of both power and dominance in Nature. Consider the strength and resilience of the gentle rain that slowly over time shapes the stones and landscape around it versus the hurricane which brings instant change and destruction. There is a time for both. I don’t define nature as ‘good” or “bad”; it is what it is. But we can define and manifest our personal power in a way which best supports us and those around us. One can choose to be the hurricane….. but I would rather know the rain.