We all want power. If you don’t believe me, take a closer look around you and if you’re honest, you will spot a litany of people (including yourself) angling for power. Most people balk when asked to consider their own innate hunger for power partly because we have been raised to think a desire for power is bad, and partly because almost none of us fully understand all the subtle backhanded ways in which we vie for power. Remember that one time you withheld sex from your spouse because he didn’t do something you wanted?… or that time your two year old son threw a tantrum over a toy he couldn’t have?… or that time your co-worker tried to take credit for the work you did? Yep… you guessed it. All of these are examples in which people of all ages, shapes, gender, and sizes, are angling for power in subtle and manipulative ways. Like it or not, the innately human desire for power is here to stay. It is probably better to accept it as part of human nature rather than waste valuable time complaining about it.
Like most things in life, our desire for power is neither good nor bad and only turns nefarious if expressed in the wrong way. Actually, a legitimate argument could be made that our thirst for power is actually a generally good thing for the following reason. It stands to reason that the divine all powerful spirit that rules the universe wants each of us to use our unique gifts in service to our fellow humans and to do that, we need all the power we can get… ergo the almost insatiable thirst for power that many of us share. When we look at it from this perspective, the desire for power is actually not all that bad.
Although our drive for power can be a great thing, almost all of us will at some point be guilty of abusing whatever power we do gain. There are some historically extreme examples of power abuse as seen in the lives of Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler who did despicable things with the considerable power they wielded. Although very few of us ever go to the extremes that those two went to, many of us are guilty of an abuse of power albeit in smaller and less nefarious forms. We abuse the power we possess through our beautiful bodies by eating too much junk until the body breaks down prematurely. We abuse the power we have over loved ones by taking them for granted far too often. We abuse the power we have obtained through the marvelous tool known as the internet, using it as a vehicle for delivering insults and harsh critiques rather than as a tool to uplift each other. The number of ways in which we abuse our power are legion but one of them stands out as simultaneously ubiquitous and eminently avoidable assuming the proper use of the will.
In my experience, the most common way that we abuse the power we have is by giving it away. At some point in our lives, almost all of us have given away our power to bosses, girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands, parents, and various other people/things outside of ourselves. At this point, you might be wondering what exactly it means to give one’s power away and the best way I know to address that question is to give a few examples.
- Every moment you or I spend complaining about what someone else said or did rather than working to improve ourselves or be of service is a moment in which we give our power away.
- Every moment you or I spend in a state of paralysis, living in fear of things that haven’t even happened yet, is a moment in which we give away our power
- Every moment you or I spend complaining about the political climate rather than serving our fellow brothers and sisters and fostering solidarity between people regardless of gender, race, or sexuality is a moment in which we give our power away
Hopefully, the examples above have clarified what it means to give your power away for most of us.
Throughout our lives, it is very likely that we will experience many distasteful moments that tempt us to give away our power. For example, losing a relationship can induce a deep state of months long depression if we aren’t careful, and that in turn could have the net effect of tempting us to neglect our daily practice of refining our talents. If we let our guards down, we might get tricked into wasting a month’s worth of emotional energy complaining about the fact that a person with shockingly homophobic and racist standpoints just rose to the position of “most powerful person” in the world. Although these are the natural reactions to these proverbial “kicks in the teeth”, they aren’t very productive and are actually a waste of immense potential. I know… it isn’t possible to be 100% effective at all times and no one is advocating that you should aim for anything that unrealistic. However, I think we can agree that minimizing the amount of instances in which we give our power away, and redirecting that energy towards the common good will lead to a much better outcome for all of us.
I’ve often wondered how much better off the minorities of this great country would be if we focused our energy on educating and uplifting one another instead of blaming others for our less than favorable position. I’ve also often wondered how much better off we would all be if we worked on our skills and talents to the point where we could dictate our life circumstances and the people we let into our respective inner circles rather than complaining about people who irritate us. Surely we can both agree that life would be a lot better than it is now, if we could all instill that level of discipline in ourselves.
Although the above points will probably make sense to a lot of well adjusted adults, there are still many of us who continue to give our power away. The reason is that while it is easy to agree to this stuff in principle, it is much harder to implement it in practice. It is a struggle… but a righteous one to undertake because the less of our power we give away to circumstances around us, the more of it we will have. I wish you all the best of luck on your journey to owning your power, I’m also in the trenches fighting this holy war right there beside you. From all of us here at chubaoyolu.org, take care of yourselves and each other.
Oyolu B.C. Ph.D.
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