When thinking of power I distinguish between power over and empowerment.
I think empowerment is our only true power. Sure power over seems strong, it even feels strong, but it is based in an interior weakness. It’s the kind of power that is only connected to the other; without the other to control there is nothing.
I think the only real power we have is the power over ourselves – empowerment. It feels like stability and inner strength, resilience, something that you can depend on when there is no one else around.
I like to think about this from the perspectives of intention, attention, perspective (paradigm), and perception.
When I wrote about the issue of bullies to buddies and treating someone who is bullying you like a friend – I noticed the people who worked with humans in certain kinds of groups, like therapists, teachers, and leaders, found the concept accessible and useful to access. But those who worked in competitive groups found my suggestions unacceptable.
My focus is on increasing personal power so that others cannot have control over you – in such circumstances for the most part that keeps you out of dangerous, life threatening situations. And gives you the inner strength to think fast on your feet to get out of dangerous situations that come upon you.
Then there are the situations where the constant debilitating effect of bullying breaks down an otherwise strong person – like we might see in school, or groups or between domestic partners where there is an isolation of the victim from the group. In this instance it is the isolation in conjunction with the constant bullying that breaks down the individual’s ability to see himself powerful or able to protect himself.
This bullying may or may not be physical but regardless it has a powerfully negative effect on the person’s self-esteem and therefore on his empowerment. In this situation simply standing with the person being bullied will actually change the energy and the outcome effect of the bullying, both on the group and on the individual.
By shifting the isolation component you are shifting intention, attention, perspective, and perception for the aspects of the group witnessing the bullying, the bullied person, and those moving to stand with the bullied person.
Then there is the situation where bullying is a form of control but from the perspective of keeping the group in order or the order of the group sustained. That’s what we see in corporate organizations and high school cliques and politics to some degree. This also uses a type of isolation or labeling to control the group-mind to be against the identified outsider. This is used to control the group power so that there isn’t room to question the behavior.
In this latter instance the whole group may need to break down in order for a real sustainable change to occur in the bullying style. Here I find that an eye for an eye or reacting defensively because you’re being attacked really feels like the right thing to do but doesn’t usually result in the desired outcome. I find that changing the game works better – not arguing the position of the bullying person but shifting the discussion.
It is here that the issue of hate is so strong. Hate doesn’t actually overcome hate – education, understanding, acceptance and love – these things can transform hate over time. Treating your enemy like your friend is a metaphor for understanding how you have to change the interaction and the response in order to get a changed response from the person who is bullying.
Again it is a function of intention, attention, perspective, and perception. These are paradigm shifts and mindful action in the now so that action or inaction make statements about the problem of bullying as a form of power over another to increase your power over VS empowerment as a sense of internal power- the ability to protect and support yourself under various conditions.
Changing our intention, attention, perspective, and perception of this problem includes understanding that it is a form of developing a personal relationship with power. If we could attend to this early and help our children develop inner strength and resilience – we can also help them relate to the world and their feelings in a different manner.
So I suggest thinking about a situation where you feel powerless and use a paradigm shift to evaluate how you can shift your relationship to your power in that situation. Or if it is another that you see being bullied just try standing next to them – see if a change in the environment changes the energy.
See you tomorrow.