Transforming the Nature of Power – Part 2
By Carla Goldstein
Director of The Women’s Institute at Omega
If we can become the transformers of power by cultivating a new way of being together in our everyday lives, then we help reverse the downward spiral from fear to love, from war to peace, from alienation to connection.
Just as it will take incredible individual and collective effort– unprecedented in scale and speed– to change our behavior to address the fuel power crisis, the same exertion must be made to change the way we use our personal power. This takes awareness, practice, and commitment, but each step perpetuates the next and creates multipliers of support for the transformation of power. And, importantly, changing the personal power paradigm is key to successfully addressing the fuel power crisis and visa versa.
We don’t need to be living directly in the midst of horrific suffering in order to apply a new way of holding power. Our relationship to power can change right now in our everyday lives, including how we are with our family, friends, neighbors, colleagues and strangers. It helps to know that millions of people around the world are dedicated to making this change. As Paul Hawkins says in his book, Blessed Unrest: Why the Largest Movement in The World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming, “I now believe there are over one–and maybe even two– million organizations working toward ecological sustainability and social justice.”
To help bring a deeper level of awareness to your own issues around power and to suggest some practices for becoming a power transformer, listed below are some ideas for doing power differently.
1. Taking A Personal Power Inventory: Raising your own awareness about your motivation for action is a good practice that you can do anytime, anywhere. Throughout your day, ask yourself what is the motivation for action? Is it fear based and self-protective or are you acting from a place of love and compassion? Are you sharing your power to support someone else? Or are you using power to make yourself feel more than someone else?
2. Sharing Your Access: Identify a way in which you have access to powerful relationships or information and identify someone you know who doesn’t have the same kind of access but would benefit from these resources and help them gain access.
3. Surrendering Control: Identify a situation in which you typically take control and instead let someone else be in charge. Becoming accustomed to the feelings associated with allowing others to be in control is good practice for breaking the “need to control” habit.
4. Releasing Your Grip: Identify one way in which you are using your power over others in order to make yourself feel more secure. This could be in a parent/child relationship, a consumer/sales relationship, a hierarchical work relationship–anywhere that you feel or are trying to feel you have “one up” on someone else. Find a way to reorient yourself so that you can release your power grip over others and experience your true equality.
5. Giving Credit Away: By acknowledging others for their contributions to work projects, family meals, or community efforts, you remind yourself of your interdependence and can see how the power of others helps you. This is a good grounding for when you get lost in your own need for credit or to be seen above others.
6. Taking Responsibility For Avoiding Old Paradigm Power: Identify a situation in which someone is using power over you that is disempowering. Create the support you need through friends, family, co-workers, or professional helpers, to transform that circumstance, including your own attitude or approach.
7. Building A New Power Paradigm Network: Tap into the growing network of millions of people around the world who believe we can make this shift in how we use power and are doing it right now. There is an emerging global community that can be found in websites, books, and in organizations that is setting out to make this profound transformation. Check out http://www.wiserearth.org which is a community directory and networking forum for not-for-profit and non-governmental organizations addressing the central issues of our day: climate change, poverty, the environment, peace, water, hunger, social justice, conservation, human rights, and more.
* Please send me your thoughts about power. Also stories of your own empowerment. When shared, these ideas and examples are extremely inspiring to others. Thanks.
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