Dear Ones, In part two of this article on power I want to give you some examples of how we give up our power to the past stories and future fantasies and how to reclaim it. Here’s a personal story of giving up my power to the mind. Some years ago, when I was teaching in Europe, I met an attractive young woman. She was just finishing her second master’s degree in Human Resources and Organizational Development, and it was very exciting to feel her enthusiasm around our mutual interests. One thing led to another and we became lovers and she told me that I was the “love of her life”. For me, being a middle age man, it really stroked my ego and I found that I was swept away with my feelings and thoughts about her. With fantasies of working together and living happily ever after, I brought her back to California and married her. I refused to listen to the signs and signals that were growing louder by the minute. It didn’t take long before I felt that I was living in a nightmare and that my life had been taken over by an alien.
Love is a serious mental disease. Plato
What happened? How could I have been so unconscious? It’s been many years since we parted and ended that very expensive, painful and upsetting life episode. As I look back I see that I never really listened to my body or used the tools I have since developed, to know what is true, good and right for me. My thoughts and feelings had obfuscated my inner power to know what was right and my egoic identity had taken over entirely. I thought that she would give me the love, and connection I longed for and I fantasized about turning my business over to her, imagining we would be a powerful force together. She had triggered and reinforced my deepest fears and beliefs about myself (unlovable, abandoned, unworthy, needing to find love outside myself) all remnants of my early childhood. Had I been more present I would have been able to mine these old beliefs and feelings for the gold within. Until we realize that our unconscious actions, beliefs, thoughts and feelings are born of the past, we will be trapped in these old stories, unable to expand beyond the limits of our own identity.
When we repress emotions, because they are too painful or overwhelming, they function within us at an unconscious level and affect every aspect of our lives. Leonard Jacobson
Finding Right Relationship with Our Feelings
Many people are afraid of their feelings, that is if they allow themselves to feel them at all. Feelings and thoughts have a reciprocal relationship with each other. Thoughts create feelings and feelings draw on our deeper emotions to create thoughts. What is important here is to recognize that feelings, emotions and thoughts all occur within the mind, which draws its conclusions, ideas, and actions from the remembered past. When we deny them, especially negative feelings, they have power over us, as they live on in our deeper unconscious mind. To say that feelings need to be expressed does not mean we dump them on others. We must learn to responsibly express and ground them, so that they are not dictating our actions.
It takes an enormous amount of energy to suppress and contain our unwanted feelings, which only strengthens their hold on us. If we try to cover them over with positive feelings we deny the messages they are giving us and the opportunity for growth, expansion and access to our true power. By allowing and expressing our feelings and thoughts, we can better witness our story, which is the filter through which we view the world. It is not who we are! By bringing our awareness to these stories we release an enormous amount of trapped energy and power. This allows us to access and attend to the deeper authentic power rooted within the stillness of our interiority. When we identify our feelings, make friends with them, and let go of our judgements about them we enter into the present moment and reclaim our innate power from our identity or story.
Transcending Our Story
There's always a story. It's all stories, really. The sun coming up every day is a story. Everything's got a story in it. Change the story, change the world. Terry Pratchett
Stories are the way we know ourselves. They are anchored in and emanate from our past experiences, traumas, and cultural mores. Stories give us meaning, purpose and direction in life. They are not fixed or immutable, but for the most part our stories live us. If we are not diligently present, any new experience that we may encounter will be interpreted in the context of the stories from our early formative years. Our stories also keep us from expressing our deepest longing and natural path.
Our stories shape our brain and create neural paths and networks that guide the way we respond to life. Once our core beliefs have been etched into our brain, we will not only match up our experiences to previous encounters, but we will look for and engage in similar situations to validate our old story. For instance if we have a belief that we are unlovable we will constantly find partners who will reinforce that belief through abuse, manipulation and abandonment. If you want to know the story that is living you simply look at your life. It will always be consistent with the stories that you tell about yourself. Our stories live in language. It is our medium and we have the power to rewrite our stories once we can observe and see them clearly.
Giving Away Our Power
To limit our experience to what we know blinds us to the mystery of how we’re all connected. Mark Nepo
Until we can become present to, deconstruct and reimagine our personal story we will remain powerless within the self-imposed judgements and limitations of our past. To be present is to willingly fall into the mystery of being, to embrace uncertainty, and step into the eternal now. Quantum physics has proven what the mystics have said for millenia, separation is a myth, everything affects everything else. One way we get locked into our story is through our need to get things “right” or “perfect”, which keeps us from stepping into the unknown, where true power lives. To say that there is a right or perfect way to do anything, means we are trapped in what we already know and diminish the power of being fully present to the world as it unfolds from moment to moment.
There are so many ways and places that we give up our power to the external world and hidden forces. We defer our intuition and instinct to the experts that offer us solutions and advice: the doctors, lawyers, teachers, coaches politicians, priests; We give up our power to the limiting beliefs from our past; to our own negative self-talk; to our desire to belong, be liked, well thought, or admired; to get what we want from others through manipulation, force or coercion; to addictive habits like alcohol, drugs, food, cell phones, social media, TV, and the news… These are just a few ways that we give up our power to outside forces! When we recognize all the ways we give our power to our stories and the external world, we naturally heal old wounding from the past and discover the true source of power within…
Life itself is the great sacrament through which we are wounded and healed. If we live everything, life will be faithful to us. John O'Donohue
By fully opening to life and living into the mystery of the present moment we free ourselves from the constraints of the past. We let go of the need to be perfect or get it right. Instead of being upset over the stupid things we do and say, they become teachers that help us to live a deeper more meaningful life. Our wounds, betrayals and losses teach us to notice, to fall in love with life, and be grateful for all we have been given. We invite you to embrace the uncertainty in your life, to express your gratitude for all you have been given, let go of the need to be perfect or to get it right, let go of your disappointments with grace and ease. The journey is the destination and power is in the presence.
With love and gratitude, michael & meriel
The journey itself is going to change you, so you don’t have to worry about memorizing the route we took to accomplish that change. Daniel Quinn