All of us would love to have personal power – the power to manifest our dreams, the power to remain calm and loving in the face of fear, the power to stay centered in ourselves in the face of attack.
Our society often confuses personal power – “power within” – with “power over,” which is about controlling others. There is a vast difference between personal power and control.
Personal power comes from an inner sense of security, from knowing who you are in your soul, from having defined your own intrinsic worth. It is the power that flows through you when you are connected to and feel your oneness with a spiritual source of guidance. It is the power that is the eventual result of doing deep inner emotional and spiritual work to heal the fears and false beliefs acquired in childhood.
Without this inner work to heal the beliefs that create our limitations, we are stuck in our egos, our wounded selves. The very basis of the ego is the desire for control, for power over others and outcomes.
Our ego is the self we created to attempt to have control over getting love, avoiding pain, and feeling safe. We created our ego self in our attempt to protect ourselves from the losses we fear – loss of self, loss of other, loss of security, loss of face. As children, when we didn’t get the love we needed, we decided that our true Self must be unlovable. In our attempt to feel safe, we buried our true Self and created the false self – the ego, our wounded self. The ego-self then went about learning how to feel safe through trying to control others and outcomes. The ego believes that having control over how people see us and feel about us, as well as over the outcome of things, will give us the safety we seek.
Even if you do manage to have some control through anger, criticism, judgment, or money, this will never give you personal power. This will never fill you with peace and joy and an inner sense of safety. Control may give you a momentary sense of safety, but it will never give you the deep sense of safety that comes from knowing your intrinsic worth, the worth of your soul. As long as your safety and worth are being defined by externals which can be temporary – your money, your looks, your performance, your power over others – you will feel anxious. We feel anxious when we attach our worth and happiness to temporal things rather than to eternal qualities, such as caring, compassion, and kindness.
For example, Walter is a man who has tremendous power over others but no personal power. Walter has made millions as the president of a large investment company. He has a lovely wife, three grown children, and two beautiful homes. Yet Walter is often anxious. He worries about losing his money. He is easily triggered into anger when things don’t go his way and people don’t behave in the way he wants. Because his heart is not open, he is a lonely man.
Walter operates totally out of his ego self, believing that having control through anger and money will bring him the happiness and safety he seeks. Yet he has achieved everything he believed would bring him happiness and safety and what he feels most of the time is anxious and lonely. Walter is empty inside. He has no sense of his true Self, no sense of the beauty within him, no sense of his lovability and intrinsic worth. His life is based on externals rather than on the spiritual values of love, compassion, honesty, and kindness.
Personal power comes from embracing spiritual values rather than just earthly values. It comes from making love, kindness, and compassion – toward oneself and others – more important than power over others. It comes from doing the inner work necessary to allow the soul to have dominion over the body, rather than allowing the animal instincts of fight or flight – the instincts of the body – to have dominion over our choices. When the soul has dominion over the body, you have the power to manifest your dreams, to stay centered in the face of attack, to remain loving in the face of fear. When the soul has dominion over the body, you have tremendous personal power.