power over one’s life

I’ve been reading Personal Development for Smart People by Steve Pavlina, and one early chapter that has me reading/ re-reading is the one where he discusses power.

Just to set the context, Steve’s book (subtitled: The Conscious Pursuit of Personal Growth) is not a short-cut method to garner riches and fame–it involves solid work if you choose to follow it. He defines three core principles, Truth, Love, and Power, and goes on to explain them and the four principles he derives as combinations of these–Oneness, Courage, Authority, and Intelligence.

What I am pondering about is his concept of power.

I’ve never been an ambitious person, though I usually have enough drive and energy to do things I consider right. Steve points out in the book that it is not enough to be aligned with Truth and Love (luckily, these two principles are integral to my desired approach, even if I lapse at times). We need to also have Power to set and achieve meaningful goals and better implement Truth and Love.

I must admit, I’ve always viewed power as a type of greed/ forceful imposition on people, and I (almost) pride myself on my lack of ambition (especially when I fail to achieve a target 🙂  Steve’s book is not just interesting reading, it has made me relook my bias against power, and see that power is not bad per se, only if misused. I suspect the problem is, I have not seen too many instances of people using Power only for Truth and Love, but of course, that does not mean it cannot be so.

The problem with accepting that power is good is that (sigh!) I run out of excuses not to act. It means I have to accept responsibility for where I am in terms on not achieving my desires and then apply tough stuff like determination and focus and self-discipline–all very frightening things to do. So much simpler, indeed, to say I am not ambitious, and that I am ready to flow with the here and now and things like that. I realize that while one must flow with the here and now, too much of that may really be a symptom/ excuse for not acting with energy and decisiveness. That I may be doing so is an unpleasant discovery.

There are situations that cannot be wriggled out of, and may seem overwhelming, but an approach to life that does not focus on ‘power’ may further reduce ideation and identification of possibilities and also blind one to opportunities to start moving out of restrictive situations. It is so much easier to say, What else could I do, given my situation? The statement may be true sometimes, but I suspect it is often uttered out of laziness or dread of painful introspection rather than as an outcome of conscious examination of facts and exploration of options. It comes from a core of giving up, of helplessness, rather than one of peace and truth.

To quote a small section from the relevant chapter (I suggest you read Steve’s book, it’s worth it): No one is coming to rescue you. No one will hand you the career of your dreams, and no one will solve your relationship problems. No one will lose the extra fat on your body. If you don’t proactively solve your own problems, they’ll never be solved.

Nothing that new to it unless we read it consciously. We all know these facts, but we rarely face up to them or we would not be blaming others directly and indirectly. It is definitely frightening to face such responsibility, especially if we are already overwhelmed.

Can I view this as empowering instead? Perhaps. Because while it does make one responsible for one’s fate, it also implies that it is possible to change things by applying oneself in an aligned and honest way.

Got to chart out my life some day…

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About Swapna Kishore
I'm a writer, blogger, and resource person for dementia/ caregiving in India. I have also been a dementia caregiver for well over a decade, and am deeply concerned about dementia care in India; on this blog I share my personal caregiving journey, my experiences as a resource person for dementia care, and musings on life, aging, dementia in India, and such sundries. More about me and the work I do for dementia care. For structured information on dementia, for discussions, tools and tips on caregiving issues, for resources in India, and for caregiver interviews, please check my website http://dementiacarenotes.in (or its Hindi version, http://dementiahindi.com). For videos on dementia caregiving (English and Hindi), check the youtube channel here.

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