2.23.2012

Path to Personal Power: Taking Responsibility for Personal Outcomes

Lemonade Buddha, Beth Hemmila

Mastering others is strength;
mastering yourself is true power.

People talk a lot about power. What is it? How do you get it? Who has it, and who doesn't? As a kid one of the ways I sought to empower myself was by getting good grades in school so as to appear more intelligent then others. If anyone had wandered into my frightened teenage brain at the time, they would have seen what a sham I felt like on the inside. 

The truth is that I didn't feel any sense of personal power, and it's highly possible that the smart-girl facade I carefully constructed for the outside world contributed to an even greater sense of self-loathing because the gulf between what I knew was real and what people believed to be real became harder and harder to build a bridge across.

I think one of the first times I came in contact with personal power was when I was teaching and gradually learned that the classroom seemed a whole lot healthier when I yielded to the ideas of my students more and more. Giving the teaching spotlight over to them and watching them develop their own sense of self-reliance and mastery allowed me to touch a new form of power -- bearing witness to others through gentle support and sincere presence. 

Nurturing empowerment in others can be an incredibly awe-inspiring experience, but how do we as individuals and particularly people who see themselves as marginalized develop their own sense of personal power that allows them to reach goals, speak truths, and transform difficult circumstances into their greatest gifts?

Over the last several years through Lemonade Mantras I have been experimenting with personal power by learning to build an awareness of my communication, actions, and inner belief system. What has been key to this new paradigm is a practice of taking responsibility for every outcome in my life. 

That might sound a bit strange because many times we would like to see ourselves as the victims of unforeseen forces operating in our lives, and our ego is an incredible mechanism that likes to push reality outside ourselves and look for blame or assign responsibility elsewhere. However, this way of thinking will always locate power outside yourself, leaving you feeling powerLESS.

In Chapter 7 of my book Lemonade Mantras, I explore taking responsibility for the outcomes in your life by seeing that your belief system may have set the events of your life in motion so as to provide an incredible teaching moment. If you choose to bypass this teaching moment, this outcome or something similar will recur until you become aware of your negative thinking.

It's like being stuck at the same level in a video game and unable to move forward. Until you learn what it is your brain is trying to communicate, you will experience the same negative outcomes in your life over and over. By taking responsibility for whatever negative outcomes that are happening your life, you are making a positive step towards recognizing your thinking patterns and changing your belief system.

Power is a subtle shift in thinking that happens within and comes to you not like a bolt of lightening that propels you into the spotlight, but more like a whisper that encourages you to step back to discover what it is that you don't know. 

Cultivating self-awareness is essential for seeing a trigger event 
not as something that is happening to you, where you believe that 
someone of something outside yourself is controlling the outcomes, 
but rather a teaching moment that engages you in the process of 
choosing a reaction that connects  you to life.

- Beth Hemmila, Lemonade Mantras


2 comments:

  1. Such a wise soul you have.

    I think that people connote power with heavy-handedness and rigidness. Controlling it and directing it for good flow and focus is truly powerful. Allowing students the freedom of self-reliance and self-awareness is a marvelous gift. That is exerting your power in a quiet rather than a loud way and is far more effective and positive. I think I would be a much better teacher now. I didn't fully understand that when I was fresh out of school. But I do realize this now.

    Thank you for giving me perspective today, Miss Beth!

    Enjoy the day!
    Erin

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  2. fabulous!
    i too was the overachiever, valedictorian in hs, excelled in college... it defined me at the time...and you are so right when you then feel like you have to know... one of the most meaningful moments in my life (at that point and even still) was asking a professor who i greatly admired a question and him saying, 'i don't know, but let's find out.' it was like my head cracked open and the light poured in... it was profound...
    and your video game analogy is great - i once read one that said, 'if life is feeling difficult, you must be getting ready to level up.' thank you for reminding me of that -
    as always, thank you for taking the time to share your experiences and insight...

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