February 17, 2017

Feeling Empowered

Posted in relationships tagged , , , at 2:54 pm by kellyfdennis

kelly-peacePower exists in all relationships. When I say this in counseling, most clients have an immediate negative reaction because these words  have had such a detrimental impact for most of the people with whom I work. However, power and control are important and, while they can be used in negative, destructive ways, they can also signal a healthy relationship when they are in balance.

Having power means we have choices and the ability to influence the environment around us as well as other people. We can choose to use this power in a positive, helpful way or a negative, destructive way. To have power is to feel empowered and when we feel that way we can regulate our emotions more effectively; we believe that we matter and are important in our relationships and the world around us. We have a sense of mastery over our lives, rather than being at the mercy of others and circumstances. Instead of reacting, we can respond because we believe in ourselves and trust our internal instincts.

On the other hand, many people feel powerless and the victim of circumstances or other’s choices. Individuals who have grown up in an abusive environment have experienced power used in a very destructive manner. They may wind up believing they would push people away if they expressed their opinions or ideas, or in some cases that their opinions and ideas don’t even matter. They may feel afraid that conflict may arise. They defer to others wants and needs sometimes in order to “keep the peace” or they believe another person will love them more if they succumb to that person’s desires.  However, this chronic feeling of powerlessness can lead to depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, and/or anxiety.

In reality, love and power can and do exist together in a harmonious fashion in healthy relationships. When we claim our power in a relationship we live consciously, in the moment, taking responsibility for our emotions and actions; we express our needs and wants in healthy, satisfying ways. We set boundaries, we say “no” and “yes” because that’s what we really mean, not because that’s what the other person wants to hear.

When there is a proper balance of power, both parties feel interdependent with one another. Both people are autonomous, able to survive on their own, but chose to enjoy time and shared activities with each other. They rely on each other and “have each other’s backs”. They share feelings, needs, opinions, and thoughts. There is a level of trust that permits safety and the idea that it’s OK to be your authentic self in this relationship.

So, in reality, power is a beautiful word, when used responsibly and honestly.



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ponderings on life, food, God, and love

Grace on the Moon

Do Not Weigh Your Self-Esteem on a Scale

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