Stop giving away your power! That’s right! Throughout our lives, we constantly give our power away to others. It can be completely unnoticed, not even recognized when it’s happening, and it’s likely without intention. Other times we willingly give our power to others, and sometimes we need to draw or source energy and power from outside ourselves. The world works in a constant push and pull, continuously moving, using, recycling and balancing energy. Visually, we see this represented in the traditional yin yang symbol, with an equal representation of yin (black) vs yang (white) energies, always in varying proportions, but together, balancing for the greater sum. We do this with our personal energy and power all the time.
In a balanced relationship, you will get back what you put in. This can look like deadlines and commitments, requests for meetings or appointments, or time cooking for your children, where you receive financial compensation or energetic fulfillment by supporting someone. Yet, there are also those who will steal away your energy, imperceptibly, quietly, or blatantly. Classic examples of this are drivers who cut you off, bosses who don’t acknowledge when you go above-and-beyond, or family members or friends who take advantage of your kindness. When this happens, it’s an imbalanced relationship, and you end up feeling taken for granted, abused, disrespected and unvalued.
Where you have control over this, though, is how you choose to respond. In all those examples of someone taking your energy, you can either continue to allow it, or do something about it. This doesn’t mean chasing someone off the road or telling off your boss. Instead, it’s about understanding that people will take power and energy from you if you don’t have boundaries to prevent them. The strongest boundaries are the ones you set for yourself, ultimately defining your level of tolerance. When someone darts in front of you on the road, they can take the power of that instant, or they can take more. How do you react? Do you yell, curse, scream, make gestures? And how long does the situation occupy your mind? In this case, the boundary isn’t about not letting someone cut you off, but about how much energy you’re willing to continue giving the situation. By simply accepting what happened, then turning your focus back where it’s needed, you regain your power because you don’t allow that other person to derail you.
For women and disadvantaged populations, it’s very common to give up power. Throughout history, and still today, society and most industries are largely white male dominated. Whether being labelled as a ‘weaker sex,’ or relegated as second-class, women and minorities historically didn’t have a choice to hold or release their power, it was taken from them. As a result, it has been conditioned through generations of repression that anyone deemed ‘unworthy’ of equal power subserviently defers to those who would take power. Even through political and social movements to disrupt the balance of power, and while laws have been changed as a result, most females and persons of color continue to give up their power automatically and unknowingly. In fact, it can take even more energy for them just to try holding onto it. Bullying is the most prevalent way those who want to take power will find it – bullies will pick on perceived weaker individuals because the fight to hold one’s inner power is exhausting.
While giving away power may feel uneasy, it is even harder to recognize when you are the one taking power. Something as simple as cutting off someone while they’re speaking, dismissing their idea, over-sharing, running long on a meeting or being late for an appointment takes energy from the other person. Everyone does this at some point in their life, and this the act of taking power can be so subtle and unintentional. The next time you enter a room, take a quick assessment of people in conversation. Someone who feels equal and contributory to an experience will stand tall, be expressive and genuinely engaged. Someone taking power will appear ‘larger’ than the other, usually speaking louder and faster, and perhaps leaning physically into the other person’s space, or they’ll be on their cell phone, ignoring the other person. Someone giving over their power will look recoiled, quiet, may not be able to get a word into the conversation, or may be looking at their shoes, appearing bored. Everyone has experienced being each of these ‘Someones.’ Learning to understand how you’re showing up gives you greater ability to set your own boundaries, and honor those set by others.
There will also be times when you want or need to relinquish your power or may ask someone to share theirs. Thinking of a long day, filled with constant demands and energy given, you may lean on your partner or family to renew you, to help you recharge, in essence asking them to share their energy with you. In this case, your family willingly gives power to nourish you. Such is an example of a balanced relationship, where one day you will give your power to support your family in return. In a collaborative setting, you may sacrifice some of your individual power to support and enrich the group. Or if faced with critical life-saving decisions, you may temporarily relinquish your power to someone more skilled than yourself, who can better handle the situation. In the end, whether wanting or needing to give your energy, or asking energy of others, when done in healthy and reciprocal ways, or under short-term conditions which you choose for yourself, you become an active determinant in who can have your power, and you hold trust that it will be returned.
In normal everyday life, here are some common scenarios where people unnecessarily give over their power – how do you relate with these?
~Feeling yelled at or threatened, and not respectfully (and safely) standing
up for yourself.
~Being dismissed or skipped over your place in line and not speaking up.
~Staying on the phone with a telemarketer, instead of hanging up
~Accepting any absolute answer of ‘no’ without questioning why
~Working with a coach or trainer and not being vocal about any discomfort
~Feeling pressured to drive faster because someone is tail gating you.
~Refraining from participating in conversations with your doctor about how
you handle your care.
~Allowing anyone’s criticism or judgment of you to determine your worth or
~Holding a grudge for something that cannot be changed.
~Allowing taunting or social pressure to impact your decisions.
~Relying on someone else to make you feel safe, happy or loved.
~Staying in a conversation or relationship where you, your ideas, and your
feelings are not valued.
~Anytime someone says, ‘you should,’ because that’s coming from their
perspective, not necessarily yours.
Giving over your power is a personal decision that deserves care and respect. Too many people live in imbalanced situations because they either fail to set boundaries or don’t honor when others have them. When you make a choice about how you manage your power, you remain in better mastery of yourself, your emotions, your reactions and your mindset. Recognizing when you’re inadvertently giving over your power is POWERFUL! It gives you the ability to determine what happens next and establish a boundary, which is the root of your power. If you notice you’re taking someone else’s power, be brave, acknowledge this, and redirect so that you include them in what’s happening, rather than making them feel unvalued. Energy and power will always be in flux and flow, and you will continue to take or need energy from others, as will others need or take energy from you. This exchange of power can be mutual and supportive and serves to maintain the balance of the system of energies, just like yin and yang. When you recognize an imbalance and take back your power or make an energetic shift, you create greater peace, harmony and ease within your life.
By Jennifer Rizza, Founder of Newtown Wellness Collective, Reiki Master, Yoga Teacher, Healthy Living & Wellbeing Guide