Your Power Dichotomies.
Power Dichotomies are two words or two concepts that sound or appear to be the same, but are actually polar opposites in many cases. A power dichotomy includes an empowering concept as well as a disempowering concept. The key is to be aware of the difference between the two. Becoming more powerful in our life starts with becoming more aware of how we are being, how we are thinking, talking and interacting with the world.
Let’s look at a couple common power dichotomies that I have discovered. These will help you be more aware of where you may be giving your power away.
Are you being Empathetic or Sympathetic?
Sympathy - “sharing” someone’s feelings about something disturbing, feeling sorry, feeling bad in most cases. To have sympathy dis-empowers you and if you are disempowered, you cannot help yourself or anyone else. If I jump down in the hole with you, how am I going to pull you out?
Empathy - Recognizing someone’s feelings about something, acknowledging those feelings which the other person has but not sharing the bad feelings. In other words, staying empowered so that you may be of help. You simply cannot feel bad enough to help anyone else. Do you see the difference?
Are you being Dominant or Domineering?
Which one is empowering and which one is dis-empowering? A domineering personality is one that is overbearing or controlling of others. Pushing others to do or think things. It is one of force, not power. It is not an empowering energy for the domineering person or for the others involved. It is tyrannical. A true leader is dominant. A dominant personality is one of power. A dominant person takes control of himself or herself and the situation. Leaders dominate, not domineer. Others will follow or not follow but there is no force. The dominant person will handle it with or without the help of others. The energy is one of 100% responsibility.
Are you being Pressured or Stressed?
Pressure is a creative force. Pressure is good for us. Pressure causes us to focus and enables us to use all our faculties. Pressure causes us to sharpen our mind and our skills to create something that wasn’t there before. Diamonds are made under pressure. Stress on the other hand is destructive and occurs in us when there are too many pressures simultaneously. We become disempowered when we are stressed. Stress comes in the form of being overwhelmed with multiple pressures simultaneously as we are attempting to multitask. Our brains were not designed to multitask which is why we can become overwhelmed or stressed. When we attempt to multi-task, it goes against the way our brains work. People will argue with that statement and say, “well I can drive, talk on the phone and eat a sandwich all at the same time.” My answer to that is, those things do not require focus. You are doing those things unconsciously. If you want to create something however, that requires single mindedness and focus. Stephen Covey wrote a book called The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. In that book, the first principle he wrote about was called “first things first.” This means we need to prioritize what is important to us, not what is urgent to us. When we are focusing on things that are urgent rather than important, we find at the end of the day that we have done nothing important. This creates the stress. Remember though, pressure is productive, it is exciting and exhilarating. We are in the zone when under pressure. Things just click, our mind, body and spirit can work together well under pressure. Stress breaks things down like buildings, bridges, rocket ships, our health and our relationships.