Taking Back Our Power From Those Who Care Less.

I awoke the other morning feeling a bit like I didn’t know where or how to start in on my day.  I had been up late the night before talking with an old friend from high school who had finally gotten a job after being unemployed for a couple of years.  The last time I had spoken with her was almost a year ago when she had called me out of the blue after almost 40yrs.  Many things had fallen apart in her life by the time Shannon called, and she was at the end of her rope.  Her marriage to her “true love” had ended in a nasty divorce.  She had lost her university teaching job because of cronyism, and faced extended unemployment resulting from being a woman in a largely male profession.  I had talked on the phone with her for nearly three hours that afternoon as she listed all of the ways she saw herself as having been victimized by a whole list of people and life in general.  Shannon had been agitated, angry, afraid, and more than a touch irrational, but reached out to me for help.

I did my best to explain to her the concept that no one could victimize her without her permission, saying something like, “No one can take your power unless you’re willing to give it away.”  This was a new and unacceptable idea to Shannon and she argued angrily with me about it.  I spent most of the remainder of the conversation verbally kickboxing with her as she persisted in denying any responsibility for her multiple predicaments.  When we ended the call I had wondered if I had gotten through to her at all.  She had come back into my mind lately when her photo had appeared on a web page about my recent high school reunion.  When Kate and I returned to The Mesa after making drums at a county fair last Sunday, lo and behold there was a message from Shannon, telling me that she had found a great new job at a Midwestern university and thanking me for my help.

When I called her back, Shannon reiterated her thanks and told me all about her luck in landing the new job.  At one point she said that she had written down something I had said that autumn afternoon when we had last spoken.  “It was something about my power,” she said.  “I kept it by my bed and read it out loud every night before going to sleep for a long time.  It really helped me,” she added.  I reminded her of the words I had said to her that day, and told her how pleased I was to have been of service.  By the time I got off the phone and finished up with my Mesa “homework”, I plopped into bed well after midnight.

When I woke up I felt groggy, agitated, antsy, and wanting to stay in bed.  I got up anyway, recognizing my plight.  I was aware that something was working on me but wasn’t sure what.  I found Kate and we began to hold our morning “meeting”, our routine of touching base with each other before we start our day.  I told her how I felt and of a confounding dream I’d just had.  I was supposed to be teaching some kind of class in an odd venue, I told her, one where I couldn’t see all of the students at one time.  The students didn’t seem to much care what was going on, and I was rattled.

I lamented the fact that my dreamtime had been leaving me feeling drained lately instead of reviving me, and I didn’t exactly feel rarin’ to go into our day.  Kate suggested that my problem was overwork.  She added that we hadn’t had much “down time” lately and needed a vacation, but I saw it in a totally different way.  “I feel like we haven’t had enough up time”, I said.  “Sure we’re working all the time on our projects, but if you add up the number of person-hours we get serious students or healing clients in the building in any week, it’s not nearly enough to satisfy me about doing my spiritual job.”  Kate saw my point and we talked about how most of the people we come into contact with aren’t interested in, or all that serious about following the spiritual concepts, practices, and way of life we teach.  They just didn’t seem to care about it or us and it was frustrating.

Suddenly, something struck me.  Before I had spoken with Shannon the night before, Kate and I had been looking for a movie on HBO and stumbled upon the tail end of “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past”, a funny but simple film about a playboy (Played by Matthew Mcconaughey) who ruins his brother’s upcoming wedding preparations with his drunken womanizing.  In one flashback scene, “Uncle Wayne” (Michael Douglass) gives the young Mcconaughey advice about relationships, telling him, ”The power of a relationship lies with the one who cares less.”  At the end of the movie, the playboy has his epiphany and tells his brother’s bride-to-be that the real power lies with the one who cares more.

What is never mentioned in the movie, however, is the vital importance of not giving one’s power away to anybody for any reason.  While it is a spiritual and loving thing to do to share our power with others by helping, caring for, or empowering them, there is nothing spiritual, loving, or actually beneficial in giving it away.  That was the difference, I found myself thinking, it’s not about who cares more or less in our dealings with each other, it’s about feeling compelled to give our power away in lopsided relationships in order to maintain them.  What struck me in that moment was that I myself was continually giving my power away to the very people and institutions in my life that cared the least about me and the important spiritual and healing work Kate and I had been doing.

I made a verbal list of those I dealt with in a wide range of relationships who cared little if at all about me or my endeavors.  There were many examples in which I saw myself as somehow holding the short end of the relational stick, including; people that talked about it but didn’t show up at The Mesa, the egotistical, needy, and greedy in the “spiritual” community, family members who had simultaneously demanded things of me and ignored me, store sales people who wouldn’t even look at me, debunkers who poo-poo non-physical reality, and natural gas “Frackers” who were poisoning our region’s land, air, and water for money, to name just a few.  These were all associations where I felt I cared more than the other party and was conscious of feeling at a disadvantage.  I felt they were in control, and there was nothing I could do about it.  It seemed they held the power and I felt weak as I gave mine away.

What is our personal power, anyway?  When it’s used properly—spiritually, it’s our drive to create, get things done, solve insurmountable problems, live to the fullest, and promote life.  It’s our energy with which we negotiate our spiritual path, fulfill our dreams, uplift and stir others.  It is love freely given without expectation, and freedom of the spirit.  Used egoically, power is power over.  It is coercion, control, dominance, and the ability to hurt others with impunity.  It is blind authority backed up by physical threat, forced separation, manipulated scarcity, and subjugation.

No one likes to feel powerless, but I understood immediately that I was feeling drained because I was giving my power away, and that doing so entailed physical and emotional consequences.  How was I doing it?  By imagining that others with whom I was in familial, formal, social, or tacit relationship were controlling situations and/or pushing my buttons so that I felt afraid, angry, hurt, guilty, beholding, less-than, victimized, subservient, compelled to plead or beg, or otherwise diminished by their lack of interest or concern with regard to our mutual dealings.  I gave away my power by standing on my head to please others who cared minimally, and then by resenting their indifference or feeling indignation.  (“Why am I the only one who…”)

I had lots of societal relationships where others cared less and I unconsciously gave up power.  I’d back down from asking our landlord to fix our building because he rarely did.  I gave my power away to corporate-cog “customer service” people who were rude or unmoved by feeling I had no quarter when they spouted the company line, or by procrastinating about calling in the first place.  I got huffy when the phone company wasn’t invested in my line actually working, the bank limited services while adding fees, speculators forced up the price of gasoline or brought down the value of my retirement account, and when those who refused to see the world from a spiritually-based point of view called what I believed in ridiculous, fake, or evil.

I even found myself wondering who cared more about our relationship, me or God.  When I was young my relationship with my Creator seemed a massively lopsided one, much the way I had felt with other authority figures like parents, teachers, coaches, and clergymen.  At the time I needed them to care about me to survive physically, emotionally, spiritually, or socially, so I gave myself away in efforts to please them.  I had been duly indoctrinated about the need to worry more about appeasing God than focusing on a co-creative relationship, and it had left me angry and bleeding power for much of my life.  When I got older I realized that the God that I know has no desire or need for my power, but I still wanted to give it away because I couldn’t connect to God’s grace.  I was still thinking too 3rd-Dimensionally.

Unconsciously, I had even concocted an internal reality where my physical possessions—things I had relationships with (Tool and tool-user, for instance.) cared less about their part in my life when they malfunctioned than I did about them.  My computer never seemed very concerned when it wouldn’t send emails, or my car when it wouldn’t start.  I felt I treated them as “equals” in our relationship and when they let me down, I’d get mad and lay my power (and sometimes my dignity) at their feet.  Why didn’t they care more?  Absurdly, I felt cheated by them and those who manufactured them.  I was their lover scorned.

It’s my Piscean nature to be very caring and it was often confounding to me that it was so.  Being an Empath and feeling the experiences of others as my own only served to heighten my need to care with great intensity.  (“All hurt is my hurt.”)  Not unlike many sensitive and caring people, I sometimes egoically assumed that no one ever cared as much as I did and my life was a constant power give-away.  I had recognized that my little gas tank was leaking from power loss symptoms, but had been unable to see the hole.  I had spent much of my life seeing myself as weak and maltreated and had gone to great lengths to heal myself.  Yet every time I thought it was finally and completely out of my system a new level of seeing myself as “Mr. Victim” would seem to surface.  I didn’t really want to stop caring so much, I just wanted it to stop hurting.

When I laid it all out, Kate recognized the power balance scenario immediately and we talked about its role within our own relationship.  While we loved and cared deeply for each other, we each admitted that at times we had felt the other cared less about some mutual project at The Mesa, domestic planning (Like the  “D-word”—dinner!), home repairs, time management, or some other aspect of our relationship.  We saw that we had been routinely giving our power away to each other as a result, often wanting to blame each other for the pain we felt inside.  As aware as we had worked so hard to become, we had misread this ongoing power struggle as inherent character flaws and been unable to remove this thorn in our relationship’s side.

Luckily, we had now deciphered one of the most insidious unwritten rules of 3rd-Dimensional relationships.  We had broken the polarized code of deference; the giving away of ourselves under pressure.  Instead we could lovingly compromise to get along while leaving out the internal loss of autonomy.  We saw clearly at that moment that we always had a choice whether or not to give our precious personal power away to those who cared the least, but often felt compelled to give it up to keep someone interested in us, willing to help us, loving us, from harming us, or from walking out of our lives.  We had been striving to practice equanimity, but had been seeing ourselves as “less-than” when others were indifferent to us.

We confirmed our unconscious participation in giving up our power with Kinesiology (muscle testing), each of us giving a weak or NO response on being told, “Stop giving away your power to those who care the least.”  What was shocking was the result of then asking about the amount of our power we were giving away on a regular basis—fully 50 percent of it for each of us.  Giving away half of your power is like pedaling a bicycle with one foot.  You’re going to feel wobbly, exhausted, and take a long time to get where you’re going.

We proceeded to do our little guided head movement healings for each other with some curious reactions.  During my healing my teeth spontaneously started chattering in what was likely a releasing of stored aggressive energy from feeling subservient in relationships.  After Kate’s healing, she began laughing uncontrollably when we retested her to see how much power she might still be giving away.  As we asked about lower and lower percentages, she laughed harder and harder, without knowing why.  She was no longer giving any of her power away.  We both felt great relief and renewed energy.

Remarkably, we also experienced an immediate shift in our life experience.  When we sat down to have lunch I opened a letter that had come from our car insurance company.  I had just paid our bill and figured that it was some kind of advertisement for additional services, but when I read it, it showed us owing an additional payment of $111.  It really didn’t say why, so I called our agent.  Normally, making this kind of phone call would have made me quite nervous as I anticipated having to give away power and feel bad about it, but I felt something new happening.  I stayed calm and relaxed.  I comfortably stood my ground.  The agent not only ended up reversing the increase by determining that we did not belong in a new rate class, but told me of a brand new offer that would reduce our already-paid premium by $88.  By the end of the call a rebate check was on its way to us.  I thanked and blessed our agent for caring so much about us.

Over the course of the next day, Kate and I recognized that our relationship had greatly changed for the better.  We were able to discuss prickly things calmly and considerately without feeling controlled or blamed and it brought us closer together.  We promised to be more caring towards each other and apologized for the past.  There was a different energy flowing between us and we felt empowered instead of drained.  We reviewed situations where we had been giving our power away to family members, recalcitrant students, our critics, and strangers.  We vowed to remind each other to hold onto it.  We had paid attention to the Evolution of Creation and it gave us the tools to have an epiphany.  We had experienced it as it is meant to be, its flow toward Enlightenment uplifting and encouraging us to change.  Somehow, we had managed to get in sync with it enough to be transformed.

People and organizations who recognize the power-grabbing potential of caring the least regularly use it to disempower others, often feigning great concern to lull their victims.  That’s how kings became kings, spouse abusers and con men work their victims, and businesses make tons of money by squeezing extra dimes from their customers.  It’s why the Tea Party Republicans have wrested de facto power from the majority, claiming supreme patriotism while caring less about solving our common challenges through compromise.  In the end, even they give their power away, railing against minority groups and immigrants they fear are “stealing” the country because they imagine them caring less about the USA than they do.  Actually, many care more about their adopted homeland because they don’t take it for granted like the blustery GOP.

The world is full of individuals and institutions that care the least in our relationships with them, often because they are completely focused on themselves.  Doctors pass out pharmaceuticals to “move people along” without caring whether or not our healing occurs.  Teachers don’t care whether or not our children actually learn to think for themselves as long as they pass the standardized tests.  Meter maids don’t care why we’ve overstayed our quarters or double parked.

People may not always love us as much as we love them, but choosing a doting partner is not the answer.  The best solution is for all of us to care more, not less, and to find ways to share power rather than grabbing it away from each other or relinquishing our own.  We will also benefit by letting go of the outmoded habit of seeing ourselves as victims of one thing or another and imagining that others don’t care when they actually do.  In these ways we will achieve the equanimity and parity necessary for our long term survival, move forward on our common path to merge the 3rd-Dimensional polarities of power and powerlessness in our world, and attain higher levels of Being together—with No (Inner) Child Left Behind.

About Brad Silberberg

Brad Silberberg, director of The Mesa Creative Arts Center in Burgettstown, PA (Pittsburgh area) is an artist, holistic healer, spiritual leader, and change agent.
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