Monday, February 20, 2012

Owning Your Power

One of the most difficult concepts I have had to understand and accept over the last three years has been what Melody Beattie, a well-known author in recovery circles, calls "owning your power."  

It did not make any sense to me.  I was painfully aware, having been desperate enough to ask for help, that I was powerLESS over others, even over my own addiction to being needed.  How could anyone - no, how could I - own any power that I was sure I didn't have?  

So I set the idea aside and concentrated on the tasks ahead - which were all about learning that people - all people, including myself - have boundaries.  Those boundaries must be respected.  Learning to let go of other people, to see and respect their boundaries, to stop manipulating, intimidating, and controlling, led me to the understanding that I, too, had boundaries.  That it was okay to say no - if no was what I felt. That certain things that people had done to me or were trying to do to me (such as intimidation, manipulation, and control) were wrong.

It was then that I started to understand what it meant to "own my power."  

It didn't mean that I had or could exert power over others.  It meant that I had a choice as to whether to allow others to exert power over me or not.  It meant that I could choose to take responsibility for my own actions, and to let others assume responsibility for theirs.  And that included their expectations of me!! I didn't need to allow them to make me feel guilty for something they expected me to do which I decided not to do.  Or to for something that they expected me NOT to do which I decided to go ahead and do.  

Owning my power has come to mean placing value on myself, the value that God places on me.  It involves making my own decisions and bearing my own consequences - and allowing others the same courtesy.  It also has a lot to do with not letting other people, their demands or expectations of me control my actions or reactions.  They have the right to their own feelings and opinions - but those feelings and opinions do not have to determine what I do or don't do - or how I feel or don't feel.  

For someone who spent her whole life trying to please people out of a sense of insecurity - that is a huge step.  I still have a tendency to not want people to be mad at me ... but when someone doesn't agree with my choices now, it doesn't bother me nearly as much as it would have - because my sense of self-worth doesn't come from them anymore. 

It's amazing how much energy that frees up to devote to other, more important things that I actually WANT to do.

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