It all started with a discussion my husband and I had about the financial state of our domecile. Yeah, one of those talks. We were discussing the ramifications of something happening to him (euphemism for him dying somehow) and he asked me if I knew what the passwords were for certain accounts. No. Did I know exactly how much was coming in and out every month? No. Did I know how to fix a toilet? No. Could I download the software for my MP3 player? Um, well , kinda. Okay, no. So if you are the type of person who manages all finances, home repairs and computer dilemmas with ease then you can stop reading now. You can also stop reading if you have never felt any of the following: stuck, helpless, manipulated, fearful or the vague sense that you are not doing what you should be doing. I am always talking about empowerment and arming myself with the facts so it came as a surprise and a kick in the ass when I realized that I have been slowly relinquishing power along my way.
When we think of power, what comes to mind? Well I can tell you a quick Google search elicits words like money, corporations, politics, influence and control. For the sake of this blog post, the power I am talking about is personal power, which really is about the things we do day to day to make us feel in control of our lives. Not the wife beater, militaristic, dictator, bully type of power. That power is about domination and ultimately about personal insecurity. No, I am talking about authentic power. The shit that makes you feel likeyouare the one in the driver’s seat, you are the one holding the key and you are the one setting the course. Without having to trample over someone else to get there.
Overheard in Suburbia:
I have to find a job. My kids are driving me crazy.
I have to spend more time with my kids. My job is driving me crazy.
What’s the use? The economy sucks.
I really want to make a change but I don’t know what to do.
If only I had a ____________(fill in the blank: housecleaner, better paying job, financial advisor, day off, personal assistant, etc.) everything would be so much better.
Hmm. (By the way, for my “Overheard in Suburbia” segments, I actually sit and listen to people and write down what they say. Maybe in a coffee shop, at a meeting or in the park. What people say is pretty, well, powerful.)
Growing up, my parents struggled financially. I always told myself, not me, no way. It was a conscious choice to go to college and graduate school, get a good education and choose a field that offered lots of opportunities for growth and provided a good salary. You may or may not have had a similar story, but choices are made in adult life. Then, zing! Life then pulls the rug out from under you. So when those beautiful babies came along, work did not seem so enticing. And, lucky me! I had a good husband with an excellent job who could support me as I worked part time. But my inner “shoulds” still tap me on the shoulder and say, Why aren’t you earning more money? What have you done to earn respect? What knowledge do you have? Who knows you? Looking at my successful friends with careers in medicine, law and business, I crave the feeling that I could be okay even without my husband. While it’s not easy to think about or talk about, I want to know that I could manage without him. That my own two feet are fit to stand upon.
So I saved the best news for the end! We can all have authentic power. And on top of that, you don’t even have to be a bitch to get it. Power is the ability to act or produce an effect acccording to the Merriam Webster dictionary. Pretty simple, we just make it complicated. For me, the best place to start is to quit worrying. According to Deepak Chopra (this guy’s first name isn’t fucking “deep” for nothing), worry only makes you feel more vulnerable to the bad and less receptive to the good. Willingly giving your power away is never a good idea. That icky feeling you get when you are just going along with the crowd and not listening to yourself is a good example. Sitting quietly by as others use you as a doormat succeeds in reducing your self worth. Like when you make your kids’ lunch and make their beds when they are perfectly capable of doing such things. (Damn it, that’s me! Yes, even your own adorable children can gradually seep your power) Authentic power means that relationships are alliances, built on trust and integrity. Yeah, baby!
Next time you are faced with a dilemma which threatens to erode your power:
1. Stop. Allow yourself to see the problem for what it is. At a meeting, you have an opinion and don’t voice it.
2. Remind yourself that this problem is coming from a place in you that feels scared or not good enough. I’ve only been a member here for a short time, I am afraid people won’t like me if I say what is on my mind.
3. Ask, “Do I want to make a decision based on fear?” Well, now that you put it that way, hell no I do not want to make a choice because I feel intimidated.
4. Ask, “What would I do in this situation if I were compassionate and wise?” I would choose to speak up. I would choose to say what I want to say with assuredness and awareness of others.
Thanks, Deepak, for the four steps to authentic power. If only it were that black and white every time.
For now, I will learn the passwords. I will be proactive to follow the instructions to try to download the software. But I will not learn how to fix the toilet.
A girl’s gotta prioritize.