The word power is something I’ve been scared of and struggled with my entire life. It’s something I’ve thought about often. When I was younger in sociology classes exploring power structures in society that create inequalities. Watching it used and abused by politicians on the political stage. As a major source for unrest in countries I helped design international development programs for. Power seemed to be negative, abusive, oppressive. I associated it with power “over” someone or something. It was in many ways, everything I was against at the fabric of my being and everything I spent my life fighting.
My fear of power made me very fearful of my own.
I never wanted to misuse my power, get lost in it. This fear opened me up to self-doubt and self-sabotaging tendencies. To offset fear I often played small in my life. I didn’t go for the dream job I wanted because a friend was applying. I mistook humility for putting myself down. I wavered on what felt true to me in service of not creating conflict in my personal life. I got lost in expectations of who I should be (the intellect) over who I was (the creative).
One of the most challenging walks on my spiritual path has been learning how to navigate personal power. Finding the balance of honoring myself and honoring humility. Speaking up and listening. Driving forward and letting go. There’s no “right” way to walk it, but when we are walking it in the way we think we “ought to” it tears us down.
Interestingly enough I’ve always been known to be determined, tenacious, and driven. My dad always joked when I was younger and got impatient that “I wanted to be president yesterday.” It’s this little saying between us that reminds me of the beauty in my go getter attitude and the patience needed in life. Yet something shifted as I grew into adulthood.
When I first entered the workforce, I was the bright-eyed bushy-tailed idealist that was excited about life. I was endlessly curious, eager to learn, and ready to have an impact. So I was surprised to find that my first year of working in a bureaucracy left me feeling battered and bruised. It felt like every corner I turned was met with a “no, Marci you can’t do that.” Or “no you have to talk to so-and-so.” Or “we don’t do things like that here.” I found it exhausting, disempowering, and confusing. The no’s starting wearing on me…a lot. These little word’s of not at first were met with defiance. A strength in knowing who I was. Yet over time, as I grew tired of feeling like I was always pushing back against life, I started giving in. Giving my power away to the circumstances around me psychically opened me to doubt. And as doubt started taking seat at the table of my life, I fell into the patterns I spoke about before: playing small, self sabotage, people-pleasing, and fear driving the car of my life.
Many years later while sitting at a table in a meeting room I listened to words coming out of my mouth to a “newbie” in surprise. Sarcastic, jaded, negative, and disempowering I somehow had become the system I disliked. My colleagues and I shared glances with each each other, a recognition that the newbie was trying to “buck” the system. When I left the meeting room I felt off. Sitting down at my desk I looked at my computer screen in a bit of a daze realizing what had just happened and recognizing what I had become. Who is this? I asked myself. Never considering myself a negative person I suddenly discovered that I had in fact become a negative person. This moment peaked my attention to notice what was happening and what I found was surprising.
The truth is I and others I worked with were disempowered, jaded, hardened, because we all had disempowered and shut down inside to ourselves.
I, like many of the people I’d meet during my 9 years in the organization, had given up an internal battle that had been waged for years between who we were and who we thought we had to become.
“I don’t like the adult I’ve become.” It’s one of my clients on the other line. We’re chatting about how she had become so serious, negative, and disconnected from the fun, goofy self she is. As I look back through the screen at her, I see my former self. I see the sadness, the confusion, the anger, the frustration, the search for where to place the blame.
This scenario has become a regular moment in my coaching and healing work. I’ve met countless numbers of people who feel like they are no longer themselves. Who feel that despite their raging success on paper, they feel like they are just surviving, putting one foot in front of the other. They often feel like life is being done to them. They struggle to take a step in a different direction and are often at some level...depressed.
When I think of this time in my life, it felt dark. The survival part of me pressed down the truest part of me (depression) and I was living in a prison I built myself while looking for others to blame. The tide turned for me the moment I realized I disempowered myself. It was hard for me to own this, to take responsibility for the situation I created. Had I been impacted by the environment around me? Of course. I’m only human. But the choice to succumb to it was my own.
The solarplex chakra is an energy center that invites us to understand our personal power and will. The center of our identity, it gets out of balance when it becomes clouded with expectations, “should’s,” over controlling tendencies, judgement, guilt, blame, and self-hatred. A disempowered chakra will be filled with these energies. An empowered chakra will be filled with self-honoring, goal setting without attachment to outcomes, forgiveness, quiet strength, acceptance, and letting go energies. As the center of our ego, when this chakra gets out of balance it results in our ideas and stories of who we should be overtaking our deeper Knowing of who we truly are.
In essence this chakra invites us to:
Embody forgiveness rather than sinking into guilt.
Practice embracing our circumstances rather than victimhood. Building change from this more clear-seeing space.
Choose compassion over judgement for ourselves and others.
Embody quiet strength of humility over martyrdom.
Channel our personal will to take action while learning how to let go of attachment to specific outcomes.
Let go of controlling ourselves and others. Learn how to mindfully create intentional action.
Let go of beliefs and ideas of who we “should” be.
Balance our masculine and feminine energies, the rational/thinking and the intuitive/feeling.
Allow the intuitive/feeling part of us to lead and the rational/thinking part of us to be in a supporting.
For this week’s Joy Tip we’re pulling off the cover of our solarplex chakra to see what’s underneath. Here’s how:
Reflect on the question, “what ideas and beliefs do I hold to be true about myself?” Write a list of 10. Take a breather. Add 10 more. Take a breather. Add 10 more.
Now ask the question, “who was I as a kid?” List qualities of yourself as a child. Consider how you played, where you drew enjoyment from, what kept you mesmerized, what you wanted to be when you grew up, what you held to be true. Write a list of 10 knowings. Take a stretch. Add 10 more. Take a dance. Add 10 more.
Now compare your two lists. Really sit with them with your Heart. Reflect on the question, “what do these two lists side by side reveal to me about where I’ve lost personal power along the way? Disconnected from my Truest/Intuitive Self? Took on other people’s ideas and expectations? Constructed my own ideas and expectations that are not true to me?”
Keep the internal nay sayers at bay. I am confident that for many of you a voice will rise up in this exercise that starts by saying something like “But I’m an adult now so…” Or “But I have to be responsible now…” Or “It’s not realistic to maintain who I was to survive…” Just for this moment, right now, in this exercise, allow the nay sayers to have no access to the door of your Heart and your sacred reflection space. They can come in later if you want to let them in, but for now, protect yourself from them. Give yourself space, perhaps for the very first time, to look at the construction of who you’ve become and see if it FEELS true.
Ask, “what feels true?” Check your body. Go through your first list of “adult” beliefs and ideas and say each one out loud. Pay attention to how your body responds. Do you feel a tightening in your gut? A pang by your belly button? Your Inner Knowing will show you what is true, aligned, expansive, and serving of you embodying your fullest self and what parts are meant to be given back to parents, friends, co-workers, society. Let. Them. Go.
Choose three bold steps to honor your new Knowing in your list. Take your new truths and turn them into action. One of the biggest areas I decided to rewire for myself is around money. Previously consumed with a huge scarcity mindset, I decided to start shifting my relationship to money to a more empowered place. Now when I pay bills instead of shrinking inside and thinking “oh no there goes more money out the door” and feeling the emptiness of my bank account I instead choose to feel gratitude and the fulness for having the things I have in my life. I release my money with a knowing that more is on it’s way back in. I feel the power in my conscious choices from the rent that I pay to the groceries I buy. I own the choices I’ve made with gratitude, embrace, and joy. Rent then becomes not something “I have to pay,” but something “I get to pay for.” It may sound simple, but I can guarantee you for me it was sublimely profound.
Let me know what comes out of your sacred reflection with yourself to unearth the beliefs and ideas that may be blocking you from embodying, exercising, stepping into the fullness of your being. Write me in the comments below what insights you get from this two list exercise. Want to take this deeper? Schedule 30 minutes of free time with me HERE between now and September 15th. I have just 9 slots left for people hungry to plug into their truest selves. We'll chat about your reflections, I'll share some insights, and if we are strong match, we'll plan some empower 1:1 work together. In the meantime, I send you courage beloved joy seeker to be who you are truly meant to be. After all, it’s the best job you could fill...so why not go all out?
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