Recognizing that he was pressing a button from my past, I took some time alone to go deep within to search for the core feeling that his action brought up for me.
After feeling the frustration, anger and tears, came a small voice that spoke very quietly:
“I feel powerless,” it said.
As meek and sad as the voice was, it was good to get to the bottom of that particular well of emotion, and know the exact core of what I was experiencing: not just anger, not just frustration, but, deeper than that, powerlessness.
I recognized that feeling from long ago, when, as a child, I was labeled and judged in excruciatingly uncomfortable ways, and there was nothing I had could do or say to change it at that time.
That was the feeling I was re-visiting the other day, courtesy of my dear, darling husband, and I got to thinking…
What is power?
What is powerlessness?
What is MY power?
Is money power?
Is the ability to love power?
Is power in the things I’ve done or accomplished?
Is power influence?
While these answers felt true, none got to the heart of the question: What is power?
Then it came to me, the one answer that covered everything that life could throw my way:
My power is the power to CHOOSE my response.
I can choose WHAT I AM GOING TO FOCUS UPON.
I can stop focusing on the obstacle and, instead, search for the opening.
As I wrote in last week’s post, Pathway to Power: Know the Good:
There is nothing that can truly stop us.
As a child, I had been unable to see past the obstacle in front of me, and it bowled me over. I allowed someone else’s definition of me to get under my skin. Even though I knew it to be untrue, I felt powerless against it.
Self-love means I choose where to put my energy and my focus. That obstacle is no longer a boulder about to bowl me over, rather, it’s a mosquito I brush away – irritating, perhaps, but not an impediment to my progress.
There is no need to focus on the obstacle: no need to prove him wrong or me right, no need to feel sad or misunderstood. And there is no need to destroy the obstacle!
All those strategies still focus on the OBSTACLE!
In this week’s New Yorker Magazine I was appalled to see two different examples of focusing on the obstacle in the most violent terms:
One example was a quotation by a group of poets against another poet: “It’s hard to resist the impulse to kill Kenneth Goldsmith, but many different and more effective strategies are available.” (The New Yorker, Oct. 5, “Something Borrowed,” by Alec Wilkinson). This is about a poet who gave a reading they were ‘stimulated’ by. Kill? Really? In the United States?
The other example, incredibly, came up just a few pages later. In an article about Latin news coverage of the Trump campaign, a Trump supporter is quoted as urging Trump to “make the border a vacation spot. It’s going to cost you twenty-five dollars for a permit, and then you get fifty dollars for every confirmed kill.” (The New Yorker, Oct. 5, “The Man Who Wouldn’t Sit Down,” by William Finnegan). Scary, huh?
Neither of the comments in the two examples were entirely in earnest, nonetheless, they highlight a trend. In both these examples, and in the violence we see around us, from Gabrielle Giffords, to the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, people are fixating on their perceived obstacle.
They, too, feel POWERLESS, and destroying their perceived obstacle is the remedy they turn to. But dominance is not power. That aggression will only cause more pain and suffering for themselves, and for others.
FOR THE ALLEVIATION OF PAIN AND SUFFERING IN THE WORLD WE MUST LEARN TO STOP FOCUSING ON THE OBSTACLE AND, INSTEAD, SEARCH FOR THE OPENING.
Responsiveness is power. Find a way around, over, under the obstacle. Don’t get stuck. The longer you stay stuck, the more powerful and immovable the obstacle seems to be.
Instead, let’s stay flexible, and keep moving towards our highest goals. For a peaceful culture, we must begin with ourselves, in our homes, with our spouses, children, parents, neighbors and co-workers.
This is our super power: to do what we are able to do…AND RELEASE THE REST!
It is a simple idea, but it is no small thing, for that is how we find happiness and success in this life, in our homes, and in the world at large.
There is nothing in this world that can truly stop us.
We need to redirect our focus away from the obstacle, and towards the opening.
There it is, the solution to so many of life’s problems.
What good is all this wisdom IF YOU, the reader, DON’T USE IT?
The answer is: very little.
I am here to serve. YOU are the important player here.
The idea is nothing new. It is as old as it gets. But here’s the thing: we’re all still learning it!
It takes practice. It takes strength and determination. It takes so much more than just hearing or reading the words.
‘Search for the opening,’ and ‘stay flexible’ are my way of saying it.
How would YOU express this concept?
Even more important, what will you DO WITH IT?
To help you implement this idea, here’s a simple exercise:
The next time you face an obstacle, or even just an irritation, ask yourself:
“Am I focusing on the obstacle?” or “Am I searching for the opening?”
Only YOU get to decide how much time you want to spend focusing on the obstacle.
Only YOU get to decide when to walk through that opening.
Remember: There is nothing in this world that can truly stop you.
Do what you are able to do…AND RELEASE THE REST!
Keep doing that, and you will see your life transform in the most astonishing and beautiful way.
Are you as excited as I am about the potential for this idea to CHANGE EVERYTHING?
Can you imagine what life would be like if you no longer spent energy being frustrated because something is the way that it is, or, feeling sad because it isn’t the way you want it to be, or fighting something that won’t change given the methods you are using?
Can you imagine if you searched for the opening instead, if you did what you could and released the rest?
It would mean nothing short of the END of hopelessness, despair, and so much suffering of so many kinds.