I find myself struggling with conflict surrounding the power differential that is present in many aspects of my life. First, let me explain what I mean by power differential. Sometimes this power differential is clear, visible and takes the form of a hierarchical structure in the workplace. A manager has more power than their employees; this is a fact. However, sometimes this power differential is assumed by me, made up, and incorrect. I assume to have less power than my peers, strangers I meet on the street whom I know nothing about, and almost anyone I interact with. I start with the idea that I am less than this person I am interacting with. This causes interactions to be artificial because as I converse with this individual, I cater my words towards what I think they want to hear, what would help me gain power. This situation creates a new conflict in my mind because I know that I personally value authenticity. Artificial interactions are not authentic. Whether this assumed lack of power comes from little experience, our appearance, our age, our financial situation, or just a general desire to please others, it is dangerous.
How can I create meaningful relationships when this power struggle takes over?
What I’ve noticed is that this power differential can begin to burrow deep down into my identity. It comes out in how I carry myself and how I identify with my sense of self. This can be very damaging. It can lead to unhealthy relationships and the acceptance of treatment that is harmful to us. It can prevent growth and true expression, both of which I value tremendously.
I have studied how to understand my perspective of my own power and have realized that I am not alone in these feelings. I know that I will have greater success if I approach situations with the mindset that I have power within me. I know that if I can validate my own power, I will be able to create more meaningful relationships and live a more authentic life which is something I know many people strive for, including myself.
In order to begin to visualize our own power, I think that having a positive sense of self is the first step. Spending time with ourselves and our thoughts can help us to analyze exactly what kinds of thoughts we’re having. We might notice that our thoughts are negative, that we rarely express gratitude towards that truly magnificent beings that we are, or that we have a cynical view of the world. A friend of mine informed me about this self-gratitude exercise that I think is very beneficial. All it is is simply taking a moment when you’re all alone to think about the many elements that make up who you are and draw attention to them. You can think about your physical attributes, such as your feet and legs. Think about their power to take you all over the world. Think about their power to climb the stairs everyday and pedal your bike and dance through your hallway. Maybe you’ve hated on them before because they are not long and tan and model-like but take a moment to think about their ability that is often taken for granted. You can do that with other non-physical attributes as well such as your ability to express empathy or your own ability to have emotions. Without that ability it would be impossible to build relationships or become close to other humans. Expressing emotions help us to become more self-aware of ourselves and our needs. Now think about your eyes and all the joy they bring you from seeing all kinds of sites and colors. Think about your ears and the pleasure we get to experience from hearing sounds of nature and sounds of music. I am getting carried away here and this post is beginning to sound like a self-love/gratitude post but I firmly believe that they are all tied together. The more time we spend creating a positive sense of self, the more we will refer to that sense when interacting with others. They more positively we view ourselves when we are by ourselves, the more we create a more powerful image of ourself that shows up in conversation with others.
I am in no way an expert in this. Those closest to me know that I can be a powerless, people-pleaser. I know this; it is why I’ve chosen to focus this post on the idea. Even as I am writing this post, I am thinking about my questions of it’s validity. Will others like it? Will they be able to relate to it? Is it overly positive/ a cliché? Am I qualified to give out this “advice”? Does it make sense? Then I challenge myself to remember my brain and its multitude of abilities. I talk to myself in a positive manner. I validate my thoughts just as much as I question them. I have the power to express my ideas, thoughts, and opinions, regardless of what others think.
Visualizing our power is the first step to believing that we are powerful. It is a journey. We will struggle. We will have moments of powerlessness as well as moments when we feel powerful. I am working on visualizing my own power and improving my sense of self. I hope you do the same today.