Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Reclaiming Your Power: Victim Identities and Abdication of Your Personal Power

As we wind through this blog series on healing, the next stop takes us to matters of personal power. I've already talked about how to connect to your physical power, intellectual power, and other variants of this topic. When you're imbalanced and don't own your power, this can require a different mindset. Many people have been giving away their power to others throughout their lives. They haven't felt worthy of making a decision, or they didn't want the responsibility of making decisions. So they let someone else do it. Other people have created victim identities that focus on being powerless and use this ego device to manipulate people to get the very power they've given away.

As you can tell, it gets murky around issues of power, but the path to spiritual awakening doesn't leave anything out. You have to take back the power you've given away, and that means there are going to be some bumps in the road.

The Victim Identity and Powerlessness
The victim identity is so common in this culture that it almost is accepted as normal. The ultimate attitude is "Poor me. Why does this always happen to me?" It plays out in words and phrases such as when it rains someone says, "This is just my luck." No. This is the weather. Check a weather report, and take your power back over its vagaries. The weather has nothing to do with your luck. The same goes if you get stuck in traffic, get a last second project at work, or the baby spits up all over your new blouse. It is just part of life. By saying, "This is just my luck," you turn an event into more support for a victim identity, which may be so deeply integrated into who you think you are that this blog may be a little startling to you.

Other victim identities play out over past traumas. For instance, you got beat up in school for wearing a red sweater because that was the color of your cross-town rivals, and now you never wear that color. You may have even forgotten why you don't wear that color. The victim identity is so deep that it's been forgotten and has to be unearthed. Or you had your heart broken, so you never open up to others because you don't want to get hurt again. "Poor me," you say, "I'll never love again." You've given up important power in your relationships. Undoubtedly, it's soured other relationships around you and brought more people with  victim identities to you. It's a chain reaction to give up power; you end up surrounding yourself with powerless people and the occasional abuser/user person who victimizes you further until you stand up for yourself.

Giving Up Power in Decisions to "Better Qualified" People
You don't have to be a victim to be someone who gives up their power. This shows up a lot around intelligence. "Wow. So-and-so is so smart. I'll just listen to her and do what she says." Now, there are plenty of scenarios to listen to other people and do what they say because of their expertise. The HVAC guy can tell me what do with my heater any day of the week, and I'm going to do what he says. That kind of power transference is made cleanly and with awareness. I do withhold the right to ask questions and refuse to do what he wants if I don't feel good about something. But generally speaking, he knows heating, and I trust that.

However, even if the HVAC guy has really got his life together and has some good advice in addition to heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, I'm not going to give up my personal power to him to let him make all my life decisions. I know that you're thinking that I'm being really silly, but I encourage you to look at people in whom you've invested authority. Maybe it's a father, mother, husband, wife, boss, or close friend. As on top of their stuff as they may be, they can't be responsible for your life and your power. Listening is important. Taking advice is important. But so is taking responsible action to make things happen in your life. Don't just sit on the sidelines expecting someone else to do it for you or that things will just "come to you." Life does have its grace and things do come to us when we're willing to receive. But for the purpose of reclaiming your power, you HAVE to be the initiator and the owner of your decisions.

Making Mistakes: It's a Down and Dirty Process At Times
Some people come to the spiritual awakening process and the spiritual path looking for the clean, immaculate way out of any situation. "If only I am just good enough...." Well, life is dirty. It's muddy. It's a kick to groin nasty, and when you start standing up for yourself and taking back the power you've given up, you're going to take it in the teeth some times. Because other people don't want to change. Many people don't want to give up the power you gave them. But you are worth it, and you're going to have to find the right way through through fists and fights, sharp words, or leaving unhealthy situations. Usually, violence is a last resort in all of this, and I'm not an advocate of it. But I am leaving space for its authentic use in defense of yourself or a loved one if you're in a really hard situation. Soon after, you most certainly will have to leave such a situation for your own self-preservation.

Rebirth and Renewal of Your Power
Making it through power reclamation is hard work, so I hope you've been developing a spiritual community to give you support and nourishment. However, coming through will renew your own inner fire and your sense of self. This is a rebirth of the "Can Do" attitude, and it helps to rebuild your identity's foundation. The spiritual awakening process is intense, and if you make such a big move, this type of self reclamation can also ignite the awakening. Awakening really has a mind of its own, but oftentimes, it lights up when a large issue is moved or healed. Victim identities and the abdication of power are huge issues that will drain and stifle a person for a lifetime. So if you have the courage to face these issues, you may find a greater reward than you could possibly imagine.

Next blog: Reclaiming Your Power: Tips and Techniques on the Spiritual Path
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