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How to Own Your Power, No Matter What

If you’d rather listen to this content on the “From Good Girl to Grown Ass Woman” podcast, click the link below.

Many women I talk with have a negative relationship with power. I sometimes bring up the topic, and I see them visibly shudder. Here are some reason I’ve seen.

Obstacles for Owning your Power

  • “Nice girls are seen and not heard.” Kind of hard to hold power when you have no voice.
  • Relating to power as dominance or force.
  • Witnessing power being wielded to control or suppress others.
  • Being afraid of your own power, like theres a pandora’s box of who knows what.
  • Witnessing unethical use or abuse of power  – in family, in politics, in popular culture, and elsewhere. 
  • Resenting people we view as having more power than us.
  • Viewing only negative examples of power.
  • Thwarting our own power by engaging in thought patterns and behaviors that diminish our power. 
  • Maybe you’re afraid that if you embrace the power that’s within you, that other people will find you intimidating, and you’ll lose relationships.
  • Viewing power as in conflict with other values you hold, like love and kindness.
  • Thinking power has to be loud and aggressive.
  • Conflating power with control. Trying to gain power by gaining control or thinking of power as over-powering someone or something.
  • Relating to power and influence with guilt. I have a client who feels guilty about being in a position of power, and yet if we can view power as a resource and a responsibility to utilize with intention and care, it can be such a valuable gift.

So: if power has such a bad rap, why bother owning your power? 

Why Own Your Power?

I assert that those associations I just shared are only one framework of power, and just like anything, power can be used to help or to harm. So before we go any further, let’s consider a completely different paradigm. 

My favorite definition of power, and the most clear and concise that I’ve encountered, is:

“Power is the ability to achieve purpose, and to effect change.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

So simple. So….powerful.

If you’re willing to consider this lens, it opens up so much more possibility for us to consider. From this perspective, we can actually have a conversation about you, and your power. Because who doesn’t want to achieve purpose and effect change?

Signs You’re Not Fully Embracing Your Power

So how do you know you’re not fully embracing your power? What are your “tells?” For me, one of my tells is when I start comparing myself to other people, because that is an unwinnable game. I also know I’m not in my power when I play the “I can’t” game- i look for all the ways I “can’t” have what i want or fulfill my purpose. I know I’m not in my power when I am underresourced: when my wellbeing practices go, my power goes. Oh- one quick note here- owning your power is NOT the absence of fear. Owning your power is allowing yourself to be afraid, and doing the thing, or saying the thing, anyway.

Let’s look at what not stepping into your full power is costing you. 

What Not Owning Your Power is Costing You

It could be costing you job opportunities. Leadership. Action toward your goals. It could be costing your self-esteem and embracing your inherent worthiness. Avoiding your power may be costing you clear communication that could lead to deeper connection and getting your needs met. It could be costing you making the most profound impact in the world that you’re truly capable of, because:

“Power is the ability to achieve purpose, and to effect change.”

For most of us, in this culture, the figures we’ve been exposed to, who hold positions of power- in business, in family, in politics, in organizations, in religious institutions: are primarily men. And primarily white men. I coach groups of senior level executive women, who at least inside their organizations, are in powerful roles.  The vast majority of these say that they have never worked for a woman. They consistently are the one woman who has a seat at the table. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like some outdated nonsense, and we are well past due for that dynamic to shift. That requires a couple things: thing #1 is systemic change, and thing #2 is your willingness, and really your insistence, on owning your power.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: “Power without love is reckless and abusive. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” 

Own Your Power to Create an Impact in the World

Let’s emulate this framework of power to make an impact. Love, justice, generosity, authenticity, mutually respectful sexualtiy, mutually respectful self-expression, creativity, possibility: consider all of these magnified through the lens of power. Exponential possibilities. 

What could be possible for you, if you emboldened your own power? Who would you be being? How would you be showing up in your relationships, in your professional roles, in your community? What would be the difference you could make in the world.

First thing required to owning your power: ask yourself if you are willing to shift your relationship to power as a construct. If not, there’s more work to do. If yes, if you’re willing, then congratulations, you have just taken a giant step toward owning your power.

Practices and Tools for Owning Your Power

  • Continue to notice your relationship to power.
  • Describe your unique version of power. 
  • Identify role models for the type of power that you admire. Who are they? Michelle Obama, Mother Teresa, your grandmother?
  • When do you feel most in your power? How are you standing, speaking, being? Note that there is no “right” answer here, as this is going to be different for all of us. Some of us feel most powerful speaking to a room full of investors. Some of us feel most powerful floating in the ocean. Maybe you feel most powerful breastfeeding your baby that you birthed from your own body. Maybe you feel most powerful making a significant financial contribution to a cause that you believe in. Maybe you feel most powerful sitting in silent meditation and clearing out your thoughts. Maybe you feel most powerful when you and a trusted sexual partner play with consensual power exchange. Notice the dynamics that contribute to your feeling powerful in those moments and own the shit out of them.
  • In what ways can you envision achieving purpose and affecting change in the world? 
  • What could be possible if you fully owned and embodied your power?

Finally, if you feel led to own your power and would like expert support, schedule a connection call with me. Let’s support you in owning the shit out of your power.

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6/28/2022

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How to Own Your Power, No Matter What

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