An old friend said that she noticed I have “always been attracted to power.” This friend often provides insightful and accurate observations, so her comment gave me pause. I stopped to consider what she said, to examine myself and my tendencies, checking to see if what she said was true.
Checking included searching my files for documents that include the word “power.” The first result was my personal mission statement, one of the points of which is “Strive not to have power over, but to develop your power to be.” This is based on a concept that has long been in my mind, the idea that there are two kinds of power: the power over, and the power to be and do.
Another search result was an e-mail I had written to a friend in February of 2004, in which I wrote, “True power is the power to do and be, not power over anyone. It is only power over oneself that is real. The rest is an illusion. I see part of my power as the ability to tell the truth, to cut through to the hidden things, and helping people to feel empowered themselves.” More recently, I told another friend, that, “Our power over ourselves is all we truly have. If we can master our own minds, respond to situations appropriately–rather than react–we have all the power we can ever have.”
John Bradshaw states that, in dysfunctional families and systems, the main unspoken operating rule is “Don’t think, don’t feel, don’t be.” These systems require that individuals do not have their own minds, feel and express their feelings, or be who they are. Groupthink, suppression of feelings, and lack of personal identity keep the system stable–and keeping the system stable is the priority. Having grown up in such a system, I agree with Bradshaw, and add to my definition of power that it includes the ability to think, feel, and be.
After the analysis, I must agree that my friend is correct once again. I am attracted to power; I am drawn to people who have the power to think, feel, be, and do.
(C) 2006, 2011 Shay Seaborne. All Rights Reserved.