Several years ago, in my trauma recovery therapy, I was asked to repeat the words "I own my own power," I couldn't do it. I could not say the words. I did cry however, knowing there was much beneath the surface. This led to my "homework" assignment for the week: to reflect on why was I afraid to own my own power.
The truth came to me with great clarity.
Because of things that had happened in my life as a child, I believed that I was responsible for others. Specifically, I have memories of my beloved and overwhelmed mother coming into the basement where several of my preschool aged siblings and I were playing and making a mess (LIKE NORMAL KIDS DO). My mom, frustrated and without her own resources, would yell at us to clean up the mess. Then she would shout "You kids are going to put me in the hospital some day!" Confused, I didn't understand. She didn't look sick. What did she mean?
Years later, she experienced what was at the time called a nervous breakdown and was admitted to a psychiatric unit for about a month. I was seventeen by then, and it hit me with great certainty that what she had predicted had in fact happened. I had put her in the hospital with my rebellious and disrespectful behavior.
I felt SO RESPONSIBLE for what had happened. From that, I believed that my power was a dangerous thing, a scary power. If it could cast my mother into the hospital, I'd better wield it very carefully. This is why I stayed in an unhealthy marriage for over 20 years. I felt responsible for my husband's happiness, and overexerted myself in pursuit of that. I compensated, enabled, etc, all the while losing my physical and spiritual health bit by bit. My faith life, family, friends, and work kept me afloat until I understood I was not meant to live like this.
The marriage ended in 2003. But I continued to carry the subconscious burden of responsibility for a long time. Once this was out on the table, my therapist and I worked to develop a sense of true power based on love, not subconscious lies.
Things began to change.
For example, when I was living and working in Doha, Qatar in 2012, it was not uncommon to take a taxi to work. On one occasion, I sensed the tension and negative energy of my driver as he sped up and cut off another taxi driver. Shortly after, we were stopped side by side at an intersection. My driver and the other driver shouted at each other, and my anxiety skyrocketed. I calmed myself with the affirmation "I declare peace and harmony dwell in and around me." I asked my driver to please stop.
Then I caught the eye of the other driver. He looked Nepalese, and instinctively I held his glance as I pressed my hands together in Namaste, bowing to him. Looking sheepish, he returned the greeting and kept his eyes on me. I then pressed my hand to my heart for a moment, and resumed Namaste, watching him and sending thoughts of "please stop, please be peaceful." Again he responded with a bowing of his head, his hands in Namaste, and finally a kind smile. And he stopped engaging with my angry driver.
I felt my energy shift, my anxiety drop, and a sense of love fill the space around me. And I knew, I noticed, that I had just used my own power. It was and is beautiful and passionate and alive and makes a difference in the world.
How are you using your power? Remember that you own it. Don't give it away.
Nobody can take your power away from you without your permission.