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Power in some ways carries a negative connotation for me. The idea of power either fuels a sense of purpose through the ego, or has me suppressing it with feelings of judgment or sometimes shame. But is power in itself really that bad?

Something that I've often read and have come to notice and admit is true in my own experience is that it isn't. There are some things that I might be ashamed to admit that I wish to pursue, like my own happiness, a relationship, fame, wealth, and influence, can sometimes go hand-in-hand with what is aligned with my true self, or my soul. Happiness and desire in themselves can be terrible masters to serve, but happiness can be a by-product when I pursue things that bring purpose and meaning in my life.

But, if I pursue happiness for the sake of happiness, I actually create a life of greater insecurity, because I end up living in constant fear that my happiness will fade. I constantly look for that next high, the next hit of happiness, to maintain my sense of safety and comfort. Likewise, if I pursue power or influence for the sake of power and influence, I actually end up having less of it. Power is never satisfied, because in its nature, power can never have enough of itself. The more power I get, the more I fear losing it. The more I fear, the more insecure I feel, and therefore, I'm actually not that powerful.

For me, power is not the ability to control my surroundings, to dominate those in my path, or pre-determine my life. Power in its deepest essence is freedom from being swept away by my circumstances, the throes of my emotions, the actions or judgment of others. I long for power as a by-product of an inner calmness that comes with self awareness, observation, and decisive action.

Power plays are common in my home life with a strong-willed six-year-old. Often when it's time to get ready for school, time to get ready for bed, or do anything that he's not 100% on board with, my son will often make a bid for power and test my tolerance. Just as many parents get tired of their children's disobedience, I often find myself feeling angry at my son and bitter that he should defy me when as a child, I would never dream of speaking to my parents in any way that questioned their authority, much less insulted them or Not applicablely assaulted them as he sometimes does to his father and me.

The truth is I don't want him to be obedient for the sake of obedience. I don't wish to define my power as, "He obeys me without question." I wish to define it as, "I am not affected by his behavior." I wish to hold to the boundaries and rules that I set as a parent without feeling angry or bitter, without shaming him or myself, by teaching the skills of listening and communication as the foundation for understanding, respect, and compassion. That, for me, is true power.

There's a saying that goes, "The person with the calmest heart is the most powerful."

And it also reminds me of another Pema Chödrön line that reads, "You are the sky. The rest is just weather." To keep power close, to not become a slave to power that is never satisfied, my primary goal is to master myself, to know myself intimately and honestly, so that I can embody that sky -- eternal, immense, and clear -- experiencing and witnessing, but ultimately unaffected by, all the weather that life presents.

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