There is one slight problem with the idea of self-empowerment. There are not ‘two you’s’ as in ‘I’ empower my ‘self’. And it seems you can’t ‘take back’ your power, as is often suggested, because no one can ever take your power away! They may lock up your body but they can never lock up your consciousness, which includes your mind, as Nelson Mandela so brilliantly demonstrated.
But it’s not easy to see this clearly as the idea of self-empowerment seems to be almost everywhere. So many seminars, workshops, courses and retreats carry a core promise around the liberating idea of ’empowering yourself’ and ‘taking back your power’. But it’s impossible. Here is why!
You are already powerful because power is what you are. In the context of ‘you’, as opposed to ‘your body’, your power comes from your consciousness and consciousness is what you are. Consciousness is energy and the power of that energy is expressed as creativity. You are a creator. And when the energy of consciousness, that’s you again, is focused by a clear sense of purpose or intent you could say it becomes even more powerful.
But then you may ask, “Why don’t I feel powerful and do powerful things. Why do I often do weak and unfocussed things? Why do I find it difficult to concentrate and hold my attention on one thing at a time? Why do I feel others easily overpower me, drain my energy and make me feel like a powerless victim? Why am I so easily tempted?”
There are five realizations that need to occur within our consciousness if we are to restore our self to ‘full power’. These realizations are not so much ‘you’ empowering your ‘self’, but they ‘up’ your power…so to speak! They are necessary if you are going to ‘clear the blockages’ to the ‘power of you’ that is already there. These realizations occur when you start to clear out the accumulated non-sense (otherwise known as nonsense!) that you have put in the way of your power since you were a child.
It’s sometimes referred to as ‘cleaning up your act’!
Realization 1 – Your Power is an ‘inside out’ phenomenon
Many of us mistakenly learn that we are empowered by some external source or force. Such as an inspirational person, or an opportunity, or a new responsibility or through some kind of training or coaching. But the power of one’s consciousness does not come from outside in, it comes from inside out. Yes, we may be encouraged by another, awarded a new responsibility, taught a new skill, offered a new opportunity, all in the name of ‘empowerment’. And maybe it even feels like we’ve been given power. But it’s not what others do or say that ‘gives’ us true power, it’s what we do with what others say or do that indicates our level of powerfulness in that moment. If we react emotionally we are not very powerful. If we act like we are a victim then we are not very powerful. If we are blaming and criticizing we are not very powerful. But if we respond consciously, calmly and intelligently, we are demonstrating we are standing in our power.
Our power is already there, at the heart of our being, in full measure, but for a variety of reasons it is blocked or distorted by something we have already created and recorded within our consciousness.
Realization 2 – Who you believe you are will define your powerfulness
Here is the problem, otherwise known as ‘the mistake’! Because we do not know our self as we truly are we create a set of false identities. We ‘identify’ with things like our family, our job, our possessions, our nationality, our race, our (imagined) reputation, even our beliefs. But we are not aware this is a mistake that will result in the distortion and draining of the energy of our consciousness, primarily because it seems to be what everyone does to ‘fit in’ and ‘get on’ in life.
We than spend our energy trying to justify, project and often defend these identities. Or we fear losing what we are using to define our self. Justification, projection and defensiveness become habits. It’s such habits that hijack and consume, distort and waste, block and trap, the energy of our consciousness, thereby diminishing our powerfulness.
The most popular habit that distorts the energy of our consciousness is fear. In fact, most of our habits have a strand of fearfulness (anxiety, worry, tensions, insecurity etc.) woven through them. When one starts to understand what one is doing (creating) within one’s own consciousness it becomes clear that ALL such habits are the result of not knowing ‘who I am’ exactly!
All our blocking, distorting and draining habits are like an inner tree. They all arise from this one seed, which is a case of mistaken identity. But it’s not easy to see (realize) this.
Realization 3 – How your consciousness, that’s you, actually works!
They don’t teach us in school who we are because our teachers didn’t know. So they couldn’t teach us how we work i.e. how consciousness works. As children we generally learn that we are simply the material form we see in the mirror each day. ‘They’ couldn’t teach us who we are as beings of consciousness or conscious beings, because ‘they’ were under the same illusion/s.
So we didn’t learn to understand and manage the three main ‘applications’ of our consciousness, our mind, intellect and memory. Yes, these are the original ‘apps’, the applications of our personal power i.e. the application of the energy of our consciousness, over which we can, potentially, have complete control. Paradoxically when you are in control of these ‘apps’ you neither try to control nor think you are controlling them. To ‘think clearly’ (mind) and ‘decide wisely’ (intellect) are simply natural abilities.
So we grow up without knowing how to use our mind in the most creatively effective and efficient ways. Generally, we were not encouraged to develop and fine tune the ‘discerning’ and ‘decision making’ abilities of our intellect. Instead we are generally ‘told’ what is right and wrong and our decisions are made for us. So we become a bit lazy and don’t bother trying to work things out for our self.
In earlier days we allowed philosophy, religion and other people’s belief systems to shape our thoughts and decisions. In the modern era, the newer generations find it difficult not to surrender their mental and intellectual capacities to what is delivered to their consciousness by technology and the various media that are so desperate for our attention.
It’s a combination of mistakenly believing ourselves to be material entities and thereby believing ourselves to be limited by our physical form, which primarily sabotage the power of our consciousness. Assimilated in our young and formative years it results in our learning to believe that we are victims of material circumstance and events, and therefore powerless. From such beliefs comes the debilitating habits of blaming, criticizing and complaining. Just some of the behaviours rooted in a distorted state of consciousness known as the ‘victim mindset’.
Realization 4 – What are you doing that is sabotaging your power?
So, it’s all about habits. We all have habits. These are recordings that we create within our consciousness. The best metaphor is the coaxial cable that brings the television picture and sound into your home. Cut a coaxial cable, examine a cross section, and you will see it’s a series of layered plastic, metal gauze, aluminium, more plastic and wire. Habits are ‘layered recordings’ of personal behaviour, emotion, thought, perception and then the origin, which is belief.
It’s our habits of believing, perceiving and thinking that block, divert, distort and consume our power. They arise from the ‘original mistake’ which is the creation of a sense of self out of what I am not! Different habits for different people of course. Only when the self fully realizes ‘who I am’, not as a belief but as a reality, do these old habits atrophy and fall away, allowing the energy of consciousness to return to its naturally clear, undistorted and powerful state.
Realization 5 – The accurate application of your power
You feel powerless because you are not consciously using the energy of your consciousness. You are handicapped by your own reactive habits of belief, perception and emotion. But deep down you know this. You know that the habits you have created and recorded in your consciousness are diverting and disrupting the energy of you.
You may be brilliantly talented in how you use your physical energy. But that will count for little if you keep disturbing your own mind and thereby your state of consciousness. Just ask a habitually ‘angry’ professional tennis player, any habitually ‘impatient’ professional golfer or a habitually ‘preoccupied’ trapeze artist! They may be brilliantly talented but unless they drop such habits of consciousness they only sabotage their power and thereby diminish both their performance and their potential.
We all develop such habits because we all make the same mistake of identifying with what we are not. Habits then sit in our subconscious awaiting to be activated by external triggers. However, when you become more aware of this and decide not to allow your habitual reactions to take over, you start to clean the energy of your consciousness and thereby restore your power.
When you start to use your power consciously it will then define your ability to respond in certain ways. For example, let’s say you want to respond compassionately towards someone. But if you have created the habit of resentment towards them, or people similar to them, then that ‘resentment habit’ weakens your ability to bring forth your power (the energy of your consciousness) in the form of compassion towards them. Instead you will feel resentment, which is a form of anger. ‘You’ don’t weaken your ‘self’ as there are not two you’s. You simply become weakness itself.
When you recognize this (using your intellect) you start to restore your awareness of choice. You consciously choose to drop the resentment and that allows compassion to arise. But first it’s necessary to recognize that resentment is a form of suffering that is self-inflicted. It’s not created by them but by you.
Yes, you would be correct in thinking something else is required here. And that something is wisdom. Wisdom grows when you start to see and understand what and how you are ‘creating’ within your consciousness. That wisdom is already there behind the recordings, behind the habits, behind your memories, behind your creations. Inviting and allowing it to emerge is what gently and gradually restores your power in a natural way.
That requires the internal practice of some form of meditation, contemplation or reflection – usually a combination of all three.
One sign of a powerful individual is how free they are. When someone is free internally, which means they are no longer identified with any idea, image, belief or memory, they are clear and therefore able to respond in the most naturally loving way to whoever is in front of them or to whatever is happening around them. The belief that they are a victim has dissolved and they never ‘react’ but always have the power to choose a consciously calm ‘response’.
When absolute freedom and clarity is restored to consciousness there is no longer any need to choose a response. The natural response arises…naturally!
Love is not always being nicy nicy and sweety sweety. Love is another word for a consciousness that is pure and without distortion, feely expressing its true nature. It’s a heart that is clean and clear of any agenda and all judgment.
Easy, yes? Well…
Question: What does the idea of ‘personal power’ mean to you?
Reflection: Remember the last time you consciously responded with calm and clarity. Why do you think you were able to do so in that situation?
Action: During the coming week notice when you ‘react’ instead of consciously and choice fully ‘respond’ – write it down – keep a brief journal – as you do you will become more aware of the nonsense that is inhabiting your consciousness!
Written by our professor Mike George