Who Tells You That You’re Powerless?

Babies and Power
I remember when my oldest child was born.
She was, and is, like all children, a miracle, but at the moment of her birth she seemed absolutely helpless.

She had this eternally wise expression on her face (ok, she is a bit of a genius). And, like all other babies, she had no real understanding of the world around her.

But she was born knowing how get our attention, and get the care that she needed to survive.

Was she powerless?
She was totally incapable of taking care of herself, but she could get others to do what she needed. That’s definitely a kind of power.

Later on, when she grew aware of herself, she took great pleasure in crawling, and walking, and talking, and learning.

We love to learn and change and grow and act. It makes us feel powerful.
And our power is amplified by working together with others who can do for us things that we cannot do for ourselves.

Fast forward 10, 20, 30 years, and many of us are tired. We’ve lost much of that natural sense of personal power, that excitement that comes from feeling our potential, and acting on it.

What went wrong?
Can you remember who first told you that what you do doesn’t count for much?
Was it a parent, a friend, an enemy, a teacher, a boss?

Or did you apply some standard that others gave you, and find yourself lacking?
Did you convince yourself that you’re powerless?

And why did you listen when you were told that you were powerless?
How did you come to believe that you don’t have any power over the way that your life unfolds?

Did someone make you a victim? Or did you give the world permission to convince you that you’re a victim? Did you unknowingly give your power away?

You may feel that you must live your life, tossed back and forth by forces that surround you, forces that seem overwhelming and unfathomable.

But who told you to feel this way?
Who convinced you that it has to be this way?

How did you come to feel that your greatest hope for power comes through getting others to do things for you, as though nothing you can do counts?

When we feel powerless, we alternate between feeling that we’re stuck, out of control, and searching desperately for a way to find power.

But what kind of power are we looking for?
We have so many strange ideas about power, and where it comes from.

Do you look at power as a way to force or bribe others to do what you want?
Do you want the power that comes when people pay attention to you, and want to please you?

Whether it’s physical strength, a position of authority, money, or some trick or technique to convince people to do what you want, it’s all about control of others.

These kinds of power are about control of the world outside of you.
However sophisticated the desires are that we want fulfilled, we want the power of the baby to cry out, and let someone else do it for us.

Then, there is power that comes from natural talents, whether of the mind, or body, or heart. This is power that lies within you.
These are talents that give you power to shape your world.
But having talent is not the same as knowing what to do with it, or using it, or feeling ourselves powerful because of it.

People often find their talents, but wait for others to tell them how to use those talents, whether they matter, or what they mean.

When you do this, you give others permission to control you. You give away a chance at real power.

You can search for power in a thousand external ways, and see those powers rise and fall, see them pushed aside by forces that sweep them away in a moment.

You can take your own internal sources of power, and let others reshape them until they only exist outside of you, and can be easily pushed aside.

You can dream.

You can believe in yourself, and walk with great feeling toward the future, a future that you shape with your dreams and your actions.

You don’t need to ask anyone else’s permission to dream.

And your dreams can find new worlds where no one has been before.
What power can compare with that?

But like other great sources of personal power, if we’re not careful, we can give this power away.
We may give others permission to shape our dreams.
We may convince ourselves that our dreams mean nothing, and we have to swallow the dreams that others give us, and pretend that they are our own.

Take a few new steps with me.
Let us learn together to walk in new worlds.
Let us learn together to speak in a new language.
Let us find again the unique abilities in each of us that give us our own dreams.
Let us share what is best in us with others, to inspire them to find their own greatness.

And let us live in a world where everyone is powerful, without looking for others to serve them.

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