Familiar to millions of people worldwide is a word that impacts each one of us at various times throughout our lifetime. Every culture on the planet engages with this word because of its ability to change lives. To access this word is within the capability of every human being. The word fuels wars as it crushes the enemy without a backward glance, yet it also moves gracefully amongst the peaceful.
Traversing from the lowly to the most high, the word has no regard for stature even though many believe it is out of their field of influence. The word induces mystery and intrigue. With it you can move mountains, without it you are seated at the foot of the mountain, pining for those that appear to navigate at their own whim.
How is it that some folks exude the word while others never chance to engage it?The word is Power. Power has been diced and sliced as a commodity amongst every social milieu known to man: social, political, psychological, and environmental with a specific definition to fit each realm.
I offer a definition that is at the core of all the disciplines. Yes, it’s a general definition, and some will cry, “Too simple”, but that’s the beauty of it. I want the word to be accessible. The reason to offer a universal definition is to highlight my thesis: Power is available for everyone, here and now. No one is excluded from exercising an innate right to operate this word in his daily life. I also contend that despite my statement appearing obvious and therefore unnecessary to state, there are millions that don’t, even for one moment, believe themselves able to avail themselves of power. They believe power is only for others.
I’d like to challenge that belief in order that any reader can step into the power they have. There are four operational steps that will lead one to their own power but first let’s hear a story to illustrate the thesis.
Let’s look at a definition before we launch into our story: Power is a force or energy within all of us that is available to direct our lives in a manner that brings satisfaction and contentment to life.
Simple words, but words that have the means to change a life! I will tell the story of power in the life of a young woman. We will focus on three experiences with horses in her life that highlight her use of power. The first leg of our journey will be at a low point in her life when power seemed only for others. The second leg will be when the woman surrenders to power. Did you know that the force of power must be surrendered to before it can become active in your life? The last leg shows the woman stepping into her own power.
Stepping into power means to access a force within that gives guidance, support, confidence, energy, and wisdom to move through any and all aspects of our daily lives in order for us to live a life of abundance.
The girl watched as the stock trailer pulled down the incline from the highway into the beachside stable road. Her heart was fluttering with uncertainty. Would he buy Donna Hawk? Or, would he smile blankly, say “No, thank you”, and drive away within half an hour? She had lost her confidence in her ability to sell the horse and she couldn’t help but notice that the lack of confidence hung like a cloud over their heads.
She was at the end of the road. There was a tug of war between the girl and her horse and she was at a loss as to how to overcome it. The only means of resolving the problem was to sell the horse, she’d decided.
Thinking back to the day when Donna Hawk came to her, she watched without seeing the driver pull the stock trailer to the side of the road, easing his body from the cab. He waved at her in an effort to recognize someone he’d never seen before. She waved back at him from a place far away. He strode from the cab toward her, halter in hand.
Two years ago, Donna Hawk had been a gift from her husband. “After we get married, why don’t we buy a horse for you? I know you’ve always wanted one,” he’d said. The girl was pleased to find an Appaloosa mare in their price range; they were young and didn’t have a lot of money for extravagances. The mare was dark bay, with a muscular body and dark brown coffee eyes. The girl was twice in love, first with her husband and now with her horse.
The girl rode as often as possible, and in between those days, she attended college and worked at a part time job. As she stood in the stable grounds, her mind’s eye saw Donna Hawk on the shore with the waves lapping at the horse’s hoofs and the salt spray splashing her on the face. She’d read that the ocean water was good for a horse’s legs and Donna Hawk loved to prance through the cool ocean waves as they rolled onto the beach.
“What had caused the loss of connection between her and her horse?” she wondered as the man approached. She didn’t know. But at this moment she was defeated. The days of realizing her dreams had long ago evaporated like the disappearance of the morning fog.
The horse handler arrived within an arm’s length of the girl with the dark bay horse at her side. “This your mare?” he asked the girl as a means of introduction. She nodded. “Walk her a ways and let me see how she moves,” he said. The girl was sad and alone. She walked Donna Hawk away from the man, pivoted after fifty paces and returned.
“Having trouble with her, are ya?” He didn’t define what he meant with his question but the girl was too close to tears to answer anyway. “Would you take this for her?” The man pulled a couple of large bills from his pocket and extended them toward the girl. She looked at the money in his hand and reached to accept the payment; she hadn’t enough energy to argue.
It was over then. The girl watched the man walk Donna Hawk up the lowered ramp into the stock trailer. Her grief was all around her: in the darkening sky, in the worn halter lying limp in her hand, in the red, squinty taillights from the trailer as it pulled back onto the two lane highway.
She didn’t think again about the inconspicuous man or the huge stock trailer or the fate of her horse until she awoke one evening from a nightmare.
* * * * * * * *
Observe in our story that the girl has little power. All of the words associated with powerlessness can be observed: defeat, loneliness, uncertainty, sadness, lack of energy. One of those descriptors alone might not signal lack of power, but when they come as a cluster, the experience of powerlessness is sure to follow.
The face of defeat is often the place to start on a journey toward power. From that place, from that darkness, the task is to recognize it as a place of surrender and to move forward without getting stuck in the defeat. It is often ‘darkest before the dawn’.
Note that if we were at a place of power we would have no need of an exhortation TO power!
The next time we peek in at the girl, now a divorced woman with two high school daughters, she is studying dreams. What captures her attention these days is how she can invite experience into her life that has the power to transform. The woman’s dreams begin to speak as she begins to access her power—the power to make wise decisions and the power of confidence and clarity regarding the events that surround her.
The woman hadn’t given thought to her experience with Donna Hawk in years. The woman considered the experience to be long gone. Who wanted to hold onto a memory that had held such pain and failure? She had yet to be aware of the emotional cache that had survived that experience until she found herself in a nightmare.
She awoke (became lucid) in the dream with a horse trotting alongside her. Glancing over, she was surprised to see Donna Hawk. For a moment, time played a trick on her. “Donna Hawk!” she exclaimed wildly. “Is it you?” She stared at the horse.
“Donna Hawk would be forty something years old and horses don’t grow to that age”, the woman computed quickly. Yet running along beside her was the same horse she’d owned years ago! Lucid dreaming induces a peculiar state in which the dreamer isn’t able to use cognition in the same linear manner they’re accustomed to in waking life. Even then, the woman was left with a clear sense that something was out of place. Donna Hawk had been gone for years, hadn’t she?
Suddenly, Donna Hawk kicked the woman viciously with all of the power the mare had in her hindquarters. The woman stumbled with the intensity of the pain. She awakened from the dream sobbing. Terrified the woman lay in bed, her breath coming in gulps as she became aware of the intensity of the nightmare.
The floodgates to the experience opened wide. With a clarity the woman had never before allowed, she knew that the man who had bought Donna Hawk had come from a meat market. The shame of it overcame the woman. She cried and sobbed. Her body was racked with guilt and sadness. That was why he hadn’t ridden Donna Hawk or asked anything about her, she realized. That was the reason he’d come with a huge stock trailer with the name on the trailer covered in spray paint. That was the reason he had paid so little.
That was the reason the woman had put the incident on a shelf so far back in her consciousness that she seldom, if ever, gave it any thought. The realizations coming from the vortex of intense pain toppled her denial.
Now her task was to let go of the memory: from denial to acknowledgement and then to release. The woman worked to accept what had happened and then to let it go; the process was similar to a physical work out at the gym. She surrendered herself to the reality of what had happened. Afterwards a feeling of freedom permeated her. Odd, that she could feel such relief from an incident that she hadn’t consciously been aware of for such a long time! Gradually, her mind and body quieted as the toxic emotions dissipated. She felt clean and the lightness of her spirit felt good. “Knowledge is power!” she realized.
A transformational experience can turn a victim into a victor. Like an alchemist, pain can turn base misery into golden opportunity.
* * * * * * * *
Just as the girl’s lack of power had allowed her to bury her painful experience with Donna Hawk, her healing dream allowed the release of the experience that had left her powerless so many years before.
That’s what power does. Power moves us forward. Power opens closed doors. Power creates an energy in our lives that generates creativity. Power strengthens and enlivens us. Power enables us to access our own deep well of innate strength. Power is self-perpetuating. Once we access our innate power, it will re-generate and amplify itself.
How do we gain the power to move successfully through our lives? How do we recognize that power is within our grasp and that we can utilize it for our growth?
Four steps, when followed, will generate the power we’re talking about. Power is not only for those on a list of the “Most Wealthy” nor is it only for politicians who win their parties nomination. Power is for everyone. Let’s repeat that because it is easy to give away our power to others we believe more deserving. Power is ours for the taking. Power is an unlimited resource.
The first step toward realizing our power is to have a voice. Yep. You didn’t expect that to be the first step, did you? The steps may appear simple, but don’t be fooled: they require attention and focus in order to transform them into power.
Have a Voice
To “Have a voice” is to speak up with clarity on issues that are vital in your life and to communicate that message to others. Please make note that it doesn’t mean speaking in order to persuade, proselytize, or powertrip over others. Having a voice means speaking up when an issue is important enough for you to champion that issue. For example, having a voice may sound like this, “I’m not sure how I feel about gun control so I’m going to do some research and find out more. For now, I’m concerned about the increasing number of incidences where lack of gun control has resulted in the deaths of innocent people.”
Once you gain clarity on your position, your voice grows.
Hand in hand with having a voice is taking action on what the voice has said. If I say I’m going to write a novel but never sit down to a computer, that ambition is not likely to happen. This may sound trite; we know we need to take action in order to produce, to be successful, to feel fulfilled. But do we? Bring to mind an ambition, a goal, a desire you have that has yet to be fulfilled. What steps have you taken to see that desire realized?
It is imperative that we take action regardless of whether we see clearly ahead to where we say that we want to go or not. Try not to see this step from a right or wrong perspective. Taking action, in and of itself, often gives us the momentum and clarity to move forward. It doesn’t mean that the action we take is a direct cause and effect in gaining our goal. Don’t take it personally when your first line of action doesn’t achieve what you say that you want. Take more action, until your goal IS achieved. Taking action is a commitment to moving into a position of power.
This step may surprise you as much as the first step. As a collective, or universal “hive”, no one moves through life without reciprocal give and take from others. We are a dependant species as social creatures. The necessity to provide mutual support to one another—food, shelter, clothing and safety—reinforces the axiom that “No man is an island”. Just as we are responsible to provide those things for ourselves we have a responsibility to also provide those things for others. There is an energetic web to life that connects us to each other. Life is lived more powerfully when those connections are shared.
Care for Yourself
Again, this step may sound counterintuitive to gaining power but the truth goes back millennia. “Physician heal thyself,” Jesus said. When we have a balance amidst all our endeavors in life, i.e. when we know our needs and how to fulfill those needs, then and only then, can we turn to assist others in a healthy way. Narcissism—intense self-love, without knowing how to give to others—comes from imbalance. The hidden core of this step is to know oneself without becoming self-absorbed. I can only effectively give when there is balance between giving to myself and giving to others.
The young girl is now an older woman but her riding days are not yet over. Recently, she relocated to a desert home with acreage for horses. Her desire was to get a horse—and fulfilled desire is a manifestation of power. She researched the local area and found a horse rescue ranch. A quick call netted an appointment to learn more.
The ranch caretaker had 45 horses that for any number of reasons—usually, medical and old age—no one else wanted. The older woman found that there were retired Thoroughbreds off the track, a Quarter horse with blown tendons, or tendinitis, horses previously abused for horse tripping, even a PMU mare, or a mare used to harvest urine during pregnancy as a medicinal for women with severe PMS. The woman who ran the ranch was not only serving human beings but she was also serving the best needs for neglected horses. Her gift to the world was in how she cared for those animals.
“I’m here to adopt a horse—one that will be a good match with me. I will provide it with a loving home and stability for the rest of its life.” The older woman told the caretaker of her riding abilities and knowledge of horses (i.e. what she wanted from the adoption because she knew herself well.) Her voice was clear. She’d taken action by being at the ranch. She’d offered to serve in the interest of others. The caretaker didn’t hesitate. “I know just the one for you,” and she described the horse’s background and experience.
As they walked through the open field toward a group of horses, the ranch caretaker explained the program. The older woman was capable of following the rescue ranch adoption requirements. They walked up to a dark bay gelding with a tattoo on its neck. “This Standard-bred came from Europe; his name is Buddy. I think he’ll be a good match for you.” The older woman looked at the animal and her heart melted. She was ready to start the program in order to get to know Buddy! The next chapter of her horse journey had begun.
Power is all around us. Power is within us. To access power only requires that we become aware of how to access and to utilize it. These four steps can help to marshal our innate abilities and to move forward with a sense of empowerment that will enrich our lives beyond our expectations. For the woman in our story, the fourth leg of her horse journey was on its way!