Power is a Good Thing
By Tova Kreps, LCSW
Power is the ability to act, to choose and to influence the world around us. It is one of our basic human needs. We start seeking power from infancy. A baby cries to get his mother to respond and feed him. The two year old tests her ability to do it her own way. The teenager wants the power of choice. The adult needs to know that he can act and influence. The loss of power is helplessness, one of the key components of trauma and a cause of depression.
We use our power for good when we create, make wise choices, or influence circumstances for the betterment of others. Our powerful strength should be used to protect and defend, to save, and to build. When we love proactively, we can powerfully influence others to feel good, to love back, and to thrive. When we listen well (click here for information on my upcoming Intentional Listening Workshop), we have the power to bring healing to others with our presence.
The abuse of power is when we use our strength to control others, or to get our own needs met at the expense of others. Domestic violence is an example of the abuse of power; one person controls another person through the use of physical threat (see more in this newsletter). An abusive person fears that if he can’t control others, then he is powerless himself. Oddly, he feels that others control him when they don’t do things the way he wants. But at core, the abusive person is insecure. He doesn’t know that he is lovable, so he has to make his partner or child obey in order to alleviate his own anxiety of abandonment.
No one wants to feel powerless, unable to influence the world around him or without choices. We can alleviate our fear of powerlessness by either controlling others to selfishly get only our own needs met, or we can use our strength to love others and get our own needs met as a byproduct. The latter choice is the most powerful, secure and satisfying. For those of us who have a personal relationship with God, we also have the power of the Holy Spirit working through us. With God’s power in us, and the security of knowing He loves us, we can use our power to change the world around us. May you go in power.