This holiday season I feel a loss of power around me, even though I know that power is present whenever people are present to each other. Americans are in a time of great sadness, or opportunity, depending on where we sit. What powers are moving us to achievement, or rendering us powerless?
For example, I observe a particular kind of power in men’s lives, and the lives of all those affected by a kind of patriarchy. I fear we men have been dominated by one particular perception of power. It is unilateral power, the power of force more than example, the power that assumes that only so much power is available, and that the purpose of power is to produce the largest possible effect on another person. Of course, it’s not limited to men; women can also practice this kind of domination.
I call this the archetype of extreme self-sufficiency “the Despot.” It exhibits no dependence on others. It does because it can. “Masters of the Universe” they are called, certain are those financiers or publishers. Unilateral power is inimical to the welfare of those esubservient to it. Unchecked, ultimately it is self-destructive, toxic, poisonous, insane.
You can fill in other examples from all through our society and around the globe. The 1%ers spoken of by the Occupy Wall Street movement symbolize this kind of power. The scale of inequality is attributed to them, right or wrong. I see it also in the Church that hides its own endemic pedophilia and in other religions that seclude women, or deny and subvert their humans rights. In the UK tabloid press Rupert Murdoch as had his patriarchy card pulled. “The Donald” (ahem) show’s signature line is, “You’re fired!” Even the moniker, “The Donald” implies his supreme position of power.
What might their souls be begging of such symbols of patriarchy, these “Masters” of unilateral power (see my article, Ask Soul)? Are these people actually 99% dead, spiritually?
What I mean by this is, how can warmth and intimacy really exist if you are practicing unilateral power? Christmas reminds us that Jesus was renouncing this kind of power and was inviting us all to emulate that renunciation. When we share power we increase it among our partners, teams, groups, and organizations, even state institutions and nations. Power, shared, brings us together. It creates and enriches relationship and by that intimacy creates a spiritual connection and the potential for wholeness.
Where am I out of balance, off my center, or misusing my power? It could be my being aloof to somebody, ignoring another’s need for solace or support, encouragement or affection. Unilateral power isolates me.
In Coaching, we know that sharing power generates better results, and more intimacy. Compassion is a chief human power. In coaching, we learn to harness that power, both towards others and ourselves, always with a goal and action in mind. I’m coached to know I am stronger than I think and I have more freedom than I imagine. A coach helps clarify what you trust positively. An abusive man shows he only trusts emotional or physical intimidation. The perception of the so-called 1%ers is that they trust and care for no one but themselves and the formulas for their financial trading.
But the extreme example simply makes a point. In trusted relationships where power is exchanged and communicated we can grow and improve ourselves, and get what we want. Practicing choices that can open or relax our own boundaries, our “power fences” as it were, help us to explore and learn new ways of seeing and behaving safely and happily, for our personal rewards and for our prosperity too. That takes courage and clear motivation. Sometimes it takes hindsight so we may acknowledge how much growth and strength we have already accomplished.
Share your power, more with yourselves, your families, your intimate partners – at home and at work. See what benefits there are in making such an investment in yourself and for those close to you. I’ve seen it over and over- small steps create a pull to a larger SHIFT in you. If you take the steps, SHIFTS happen.