Friday, November 7, 2014

"With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" #OwnYourPower

Day 5 of my November journaling challenge! First week complete, woot!)

So for those of you who know me in real time, know that I practice shamanic drumming for meditative and personal reasons, along with reconnecting to my grandmother's heritage. One of the aspects of shamanism (I am no shaman, just a drummer) is developing an ability to listen to the messages you receive--either during meditation/drumming, in your dreams, or in real life (the animals you see, the impressions you get, and so on). 

Three of the animals I've been working with lately: panther, blue jay and heron--all have an overlapping aspect to their messages: "You have power. Use this power wisely."

Accepting this message has been really hard for me for a long time. Partly because (like many, many people), I've been made to believe I am powerless. 

I've been made to believe I am powerless in general-social ways (I am an LGBT woman from an impoverished background with uneducated parents) to really specific and personal ways (direct abuse). Any ONE of these circumstances (gender, race, sexuality, poverty, abuse, etc.) can make a person feel powerless. I'm just unfortunate enough to have several compounding incidents that gave me a long and lasting impression that I am powerless.

So for anyone who has been made to believe they are powerless (and that is most people I believe), it can be really hard to first accept that you have power. After all, society has also done a really good job of giving us a false definition of power.

When you think of power, you are probably imagining a super wealthy white guy in a "position of power" (CEO, politician, etc.). But how powerful are these people really? If they will do anything to earn more money, then they are not very powerful. They can be persuaded and "bought". And think of some of the most influential and amazing people who changed world history--do they fit the above definition? No. Now think of someone from your life--anyone--who changed it entirely. Changed the way you saw the world and changed you. Was it a rich white dude in a business suit? Probably not. Unless such a person inspired you to become a rich dude in a suit yourself. ;)

I won't say much more on this now, as I am still examining what I think is real and false power (thanks, blue jay), but I am getting a better grasp (as I heal some of the events from my past--thanks drumming!) on the fact that I do have power--which in itself is a huge step for me.

One point of confusion for me has been the difference between power and strength. I thought they were very different and I just now learning the ways in which they overlap. I learned quickly through life experiences that I am strong. And I don't mean because of what I can bench press or anything like that. I mean because I can take an immense amount of damage: emotionally, physically, mentally--and I can survive. I can get up and challenge you again. I'm incredibly adaptable and have excellent endurance when it comes to turmoil and strife. 

To me, this was different than power. The ability to play the victim really well repeatedly was not the same as power. Because victims are powerless by nature. But I do not regret the things that have happened to me. As they say “what doesn’t kill you..”

But my mind was further blown when I realized that I could not only endure or survive, but that I could also exert power and control over myself, my own life, and even other people.

Now please remember that there are true victims out there. People who are truly rendered powerless by the cruelty of others. And it is our responsibility to protect those people. Help them and make life better for them. But before I can do that, I need to accept my own power. I am no use to anyone, if I cannot do that first.

It is true that I am not the President. I am not signing laws into order. But that isn’t the kind of power I’m interested in anyway. I don’t want to be the one to decide that trashcans shall be put on the curb every Tuesday. I want to shape the way people view themselves, each other, and the world. I want something I say to change their thoughts and actions. But most importantly, I want to exert better power over myself--to be a little less reactive to my environment each day. And these are all the things I’m learning about my power.

It starts with me--using what I learned while living as a powerless victim--my ability to endure or my ability to have everything take from me (financially, emotionally, physically, what have you) and still get up are traits I can use now--as a person who recognizes her power, and tries to be a bit more gentle with it.

It’s been tough waking up and realizing that I have influence over the mental and emotional landscape of others--over my students, my loved ones, and now with my writing, over strangers--it is hard to own and also it gives me a bit of remorse. After all, I have not been careful with what I’ve said or done to people because I believed myself to be powerless--thought that nothing I said or did would matter.

But it does. It matters to someone.

So if someone has ever made you feel like you are powerless, you might want to ask yourself if that is really true. Because that is where it starts--accepting that you do have power--and learning how to be a little kinder/gentler with it.

Because I am certain that whatever I say or do is changing someone. Right now. And I can only hope I will be more responsible with that power in the future.


  1. I have totally been affected by the power of your words! All in a good way, of course. : ) Really enjoying your Nano blogging. Can't wait to check back in next week!

  2. I'm so glad that you are enjoying my posts! :) Thanks for tuning in! ;)

  3. Every time I read your posts I'm inspired to strive to be better. And it also reminds me that I'm not alone in other ways which helps. Two quotes came to mind as I read this post. One is from the sixth Rocky movie and it is from Rocky to his son as he is saying basically, "In life it is not about how hard you hit, but about how hard you can get hit and still get up." And for the second quote it comes from Spider-Man and is his mantra, "With great power comes great responsibility." Sorry to go so long winded but that is me it seems.

    1. I'm honored that my posts inspire you! I am not sure I deserve that honor, but I will try to live up to it! And never apologize for being long-winded. ;)

  4. Its fascinating to feel the yearning of your heart in the words that you write.You express your heart beat in words. I found by trying to think as you do in your recital that your searching soul is probing deep into a rich goldmine. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thank YOU for sharing, Nicolas. Hope to see you again soon! :)

  5. This came at the perfect time. It's way past time to own my power. Thank you Kory! So grateful I found this blog today.

    1. You have my sympathy, Tizz! It isn't easy to own one's power! :) But I'm wishing you all the luck! :)