I believe each and every one of us has the power to be/come. Regardless of the challenge and in spite of adversity, human beings long for and fight against dependence and domination. We want to feel within us that we are powerful and in control of our own lives. Steven Stosny wrote in The Powerful Self, “We simply cannot do well in life or come anywhere near achieving our fullest potential when feeling powerless over our own emotions and reactive to everyone else’s.“
Where we lack power in our lives we will be overly dependent on others in that we are unable to regulate our thoughts, emotions, and behavior unless they do something or stop doing something so we can feel better. We needlessly suffer, not knowing what we can do because “we have tried everything and nothing ever changes” so we are angry, sad, resentful, and even depressed because internally we feel powerless to change what is happening to us. The age of the issue and our inability to regulate our internal experience can be evidence of the “fatal error of looking outside the self for regulation of internal experience” a.k.a., our dependency on others. To find out where there is a sense of helplessness, look in your life right now for an area(s) of conflict, drama, struggle, and strained relationships. Look for your use of controlling and coercive behaviors such as griping, complaining, criticizing, blaming, look for depression and even self-destructive behaviors. These are the language of the powerless William Glasser posits in Choice Theory and Reality Therapy. If you do not want dysfunction in your life, stop acting dysfunctional.
EXAMPLE: You are married with children and after years of marriage you want a Will to make provision for your children in the event both you and your spouse are deceased. After years of talking about it (this is a dysfunctional behavior as well) you meet with an attorney and agree on all the details. Weeks and months go by and you continue to ask where the draft paperwork is and at some point, you confront what you suspect is dishonesty. Once confirmed, your initial reaction is shock, hurt, pain, and withdraw from the relationship. The dysfunction lies in the fact when faced with a threat to an area of great importance to you, press in, move toward the relationship, not away. Allowing the failure to make provision for your children is irresponsible and reckless. The powerful response is, “I do not know why you did that and why you were dishonest, but you fix that right now. This is too important and it must be done. Let me know when you have made the appointment.”
The reason this is the powerful response is that it draws out the truth and responds appropriately to the relationship. If the offending spouse refuses to move forward with making financial provision for your children, then that is a different discussion. In that case, the marriage relationship has other issues other than a delay in getting things done. We have been given the power to be/come. Within us, we have the power to take care of our selves and to protect those we love. Remember always that you have the right to be! Today, if you are feeling disappointed, harried, frustrated, or hurt, decide what matters most to you. “Compassion relieves blame and increases responsibility at the same time,” Stosny writes. It is responsibility that produces power, and blame that produces powerlessness. What is it you value? William Ury, author of The Power of a Powerful No, writes, “Needs drive, values motivate,” and the challenge we face first is internal. What do you need and what do you want to happen and what is non-negotiable? Ask yourself, what are you doing that you do not want to do? What are you doing you do not have to do? What are you doing someone else can do? What can you do today that will meet your needs? Decide today what you can do and will do to feel better inside. and press forward and in. Don’t back up or back down. Square your shoulders and strengthen your resolve. Conflict does you a favor; it lets you know there is a need not being met. Thank those who are upset with you. Let them know you are working on things. Then look at yourself in the mirror and remind yourself today- you got this!
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