Friday, 19 October 2007

Claiming your power

I was chatting to a friend recently about his personal "lightbulb moment". He had suddenly realised that he had to stop blaming his parents for his unhappy childhood in order to move on. Yes, he had an unhappy childhood. Yes, his parents were the reason why he was unhappy, but as long as he keeps holding onto those facts he can never move beyond them. They have become the cage that stops him from living a full and happy Present and Future.

I told him how interesting that was, because I had just heard from another old friend who had gone through some radical changes herself. Last time we saw each other her life was a mess. Now she pops back into my emails with a new job and a brand new life and, even more important, a new attitude. Before she always blamed others for her problems: the world, her employers, her childhood… Now her victim attitude is gone. She has claimed back her own responsibility for her life choices, and in doing so claimed back her own power.

None of us can ensure that our lives, or childhoods, are perfect, but we all do have one power that can never be taken from us. We all have the power to choose how we react to our life events. We cannot always control what happens, but we always have choice. There is always choice in blaming others. You can choose to hold on to blame, anger, fear, regret… or you can choose to let go. You can choose to be the hero of your own life story.. or the victim.

My male friend asked if I thought we needed another person to become a victim. It was a great question. I told him that I don't think we do. I think "victim" is a state of being - a sense of powerlessness. We can create it through anything. We can blame something less tangible like… bad health, the weather, our culture, our gender, or war. It does not have to be a literal person or persons. The only important thing to remember is that once we blame we hand over our power to the thing we blame. We say, "This *thing* is what holds me back" or "…has held me back." We give it the power and thereby lose our own power.

Pity is another way to destroy personal power. Sympathy is a lovely emotion, but pity can be very destructive. Sympathy says "I understand and will walk with you". Pity says "I see you as being a victim" and thereby strips away that person's power. There is also security in having no personal power, because power comes with moral responsibility.

So how do we learn to let go of being a victim? Like most things in life the answer is both simple and difficult. We just.. let go. We stop clinging to those things we blame. We can choose to stop being a powerless victim at any time, but I suspect we are sometimes too scared to. There's the fear of letting go of the known for the unknown freedom. So, like someone who thinks they are drowning, we cling in fearful desperation without realising that the very things we see as keeping us afloat are also the things that stop the currents from moving us forward.

Let go...
claim responsibility for your own self and float free...
you just might be surprised to find the shore closer than you ever imagined.


  1. This actually relates to my post. I never feel like a victim when I know that only by grace do I enjoy ANYTHING.

  2. LOVE this post!

    I used to blame other people A LOT, esp. during my early years (teenage years). It became so easy for me to be cynical and bitter. Oh, I could be funny with my cynicism, but I learnt that it was still negative in a way.

    Letting go is definitely one of the hardest lessons I've learnt. There are SO many things in life that I need to let go, some I've succeeded in doing, some I'm still learning to let go. :-)))) But I ain't giving up he he he he he...

  3. Since it is so often our actions or the actions of others that are the catalyst for our original disempowerment, I'm a big proponent for NEW actions that empower us. Be they big things or little things. Self defense classes, learning how to ride a motorcycle, a hobby like shooting (guns, bows, whatever), mountain climbing, various sports.... there are so many things we could do to make us feel more empowered. Sometimes simply 'letting go' is the hardest thing, but things we involve ourselves in can sometimes be a catalyst for change. An empowering thing for me was finding my art medium (photography) and doing service for others when I can. These are just things and relatively unimportant, they don't define us, but they can still be excellent ways to rebuild our confidence and power.

  4. Never felt anything like this...

    But I will keep it in mind in case something like this...

    Let go... letting go is always a good thing :D



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