Pathways implies more than one way to get where you’re going – and in the midstof career transition, you want that kind of choice. Personal means they’re allinside you – and who better to depend on? And Power is about the result theseinternal pathways create: do they enhance your capacity to fully express yourself? Beforeyou move on to unfold the next layer in your career evolution, take a moment to considerthat your most powerful messages – like your greatest triumphs and darkest moments – allcome from inside yourself. How well is your decoder working?
The notion of ‘power’ or, more specifically, personal power is one that captures theimagination. The dictionary defines power as the capacity to act. For what purpose? Inwhat context? What exactly does it mean, in terms of quality of life? How do I become aperson of great personal power? How would I be different from who I am now? Would I changethe way I live my life? And if power is a force, where does that force come from? Howwould I direct that force and what kind of life would I create for myself and for thepeople around me?
Have you ever noticed that one of the more interesting things about power is that allof us thinks everybody has some – except ourselves! If you’re the boss, you think theemployees have it; and if you’re the employees, you think the boss has it. If you’re theparents, you know the kids must have it because you sure don’t; and if you’re the kids,you feel the need to fight for it since it certainly rests in the hands of the oldergeneration. Why is it that power remains so elusive for so many? Why do we tend to thinkof power as something that exists outside of us, that we can earn or simply take, maybeeven buy, and then wield like a weapon? How is it that we think of power as somethingfinite, with only so much available and if someone else has some, we may not get enough;that power is designed to be used to make things happen, to do things to something; andthat, if you aren’t very careful, someone will try to do something to you or make you dosomething you don’t want to do? Or, perhaps, even take your power away? It is as if therewere a shortage and we must zealously guard whatever we have for fear of its being takenor simply evaporating if we are not relentless in our vigilance.
Stripped of our sense of personal power – that is, our ability to create for ourselvesa life that we want and believe to be worth living – we are left trembling in fear anduncertainty or filled with resentment and rage. We experience a deep sense of loss ofdignity and a violation of our personal integrity (i.e. wholeness). If we react soprofoundly to such an awareness, is it possible that personal power is a naturallyoccurring state and one which we hold, at some very deep level, to be our birthright?
The things that occur at very deep levels of the body, and/or deeper levels of mind,must move beyond linguistically structured thought, which is how we have been taught tothink. Our cultural conditioning has kneaded and molded us to focus our attention on thewords in our heads at the cost of the sensations in our bodies. For generations, and in avariety of ways, we have been conditioned to ignore our instinct and our intuition, and toabdicate to the rules and regulations of home, church and school. By the time we get towork, where we will spend more time than anywhere else in our adult lives, we are welltrained. It’s a miracle that we can feel anything at all!
By the time we get to work, we have been rewarded for close to two decades for notthinking for ourselves, but for toeing the party line; being a team player; not rockingthe boat; and supporting the status quo. That powerful energy that ran through our bodiesseems to have cut back to a trickle. And often, we find ourselves feeling flat andlifeless; bored and wondering, ‘is this all there is?’; or ……..agitated and impatient,not knowing why. Perhaps it’s time we went deeper into our own awareness and went beyondwhat we have been taught to call ‘reality’ or ‘truth’.
In Pathways to Personal Power, we take a journey into places where many people rarelyallow themselves to go. We go deep into the self…. inside….where our feelings reside;our greatest hopes and our darkest fears. And we begin to notice that before life happens’out there’, it happens inside first. We begin to ask ourselves questions, such as: If Iam so quick to take responsibility (i.e. hold myself able to respond) for the things in mylife that are working, why am I am so quick to hold someone else responsible when it’s notworking? Why it is so easy for me to reach out and grasp the things that work yet so quickto drop the things that don’t work, as if bitten by a snake? What if I am responsible(i.e. hold myself able to respond) for it all – the good and the bad; the stuff that worksand the stuff that makes me want to crawl back into bed and stay there!
We begin the workshop by taking a journey into the evolution of the human being: howdid we get to be who and how we are? We explore how – no matter your gender, your timeand/or place of birth, your cultural conditioning, your religious training – there arecertain structures and experiences common to all human beings.
The first of these is that we arrive, with the basic design being one of a number oforgans, structures and systems in a ‘bag’ called the body; including a brain and a nervoussystem. We concede that we have learned more about the brain and the nervous system in thelast ten years than we had known in the previous 100. This is not rocket science. You needread only the more popularized journals, like Discover or Macleans or Time magazine, tofind articles that marvel at the power of the human nervous system; at how with every newthought we think, the topography of the brain shifts, never again to think the samethoughts the same way. We know today that the brain and the central nervous system areliving, breathing, shifting, changing and growing expressions of who we are; that as thetissue shifts and changes, so does our ability to process information. The human nervoussystem is recognized as the most magnificent bio-computer in the known universe, capablenot only of astounding acts of repetition but also of massive waves of creativity andinnovation. We all have a brain and a nervous system and as we come to better understandit and make friends with it, our capacity to fully express and create causes the world tobe permanently altered.
In addition to having a body, a brain and a central nervous system, there are otherthings that we have in common, around the globe. For example, none of us is hatched. Weall go through a process where we are conceived and grow in utero for, give or take, ninemonths. We all experience a birth process which is still either vaginal delivery orCaesarean section. We all have initial experiences with Mom and Dad, or our first contactwith power and authority; we have extended family, including siblings, aunts, uncles andcousins, etc.; we have baby-sitters, in some way, shape or form; and we have communityactivities that begin at a very early age, like T-Ball, Cubs, Brownies or Sunday school.Today, we have daycare where children spend more time with relative strangers than theywill ever spend with their own families. And then, of course, we have what I fondly referto as boot camp for Life, or school; and let’s not forget Church, or some form ofreligious structuring And finally, the one place you will spend more time than anywhereelse in your life – work. Whether work takes place in the rice fields or on the 45th floorof a downtown high-rise, the effect is the same.
Deep inside us, each of us carries information unique to our structuring of the worldin which we live. These experiences, from conception to death, are wired directly into thenervous system and literally shape whom we become. Traditional psychologists believe thatour core beliefs – meaning our beliefs about ourselves (good person, bad person); ourbeliefs about the world (safe, unsafe) and our beliefs about our ability to manage in ourworld (competent, incompetent) are in place by the time we are five years old. Having hadtwo children and having worked with adults now for close to twenty years, I believe theyare in place much earlier. Few of us ever revisit those core beliefs as structured anddefined through the experiences of a five year old. Just ask yourself: when was the lasttime you thought about what you believe, about what really matters to you – not whatsomeone else wants you to believe, or thinks you should believe, but what really mattersto you? If it’s been a while, you also have to ask yourself who’s driving the bus.
Is it any surprise that we become adults and when certain circumstances presentthemselves, we feel like children? Have you ever wondered why it is that you are anintelligent, articulate, capable and responsible adult until you cross the threshold ofyour parents’ house and then, all of a sudden, you’re eight? What is stored inside us thatleaves us believing in our own powerlessness and helplessness?
Although we have been trained to operate from what is referred to as linguisticallystructured thought – meaning that how we think the process of thinking occurs is in wordsand phrases – there is much more occurring inside the body. For hundreds of years, ancientwisdom has proffered the notion of energy centers in the body, or chakras, that are likegenerators that keep the body energy, or life force, moving freely. Many trained in thetraditional allopathic world view have, until recently, dismissed this notion asludicrous, as there was no evidence that could be measured with the naked eye or withexisting instrumentation.
However, with the discoveries of scientists such as Candace Pert (Molecules ofEmotion) or Valerie Hunt (Infinite Mind: The Vibrations of Human Consciousness),we are becoming more aware of the power of the human body and the implication of thepresence of an electromagnetic field that surrounds it. There is a correlation between themovement of energy through this electromagnetic field, the process of thought as we havecome to know it, the movement of energy and information through bio-chemical andelectrochemical impulses through the body, and our sense of personal power. Given that fewof us were taught any of this in Grade 10 biology/science classes; or even beyond at theUniversity level, how well do we know how to decode the messages of the body and theirrelationship to our thoughts?
The next step in the program is to introduce a tool that we use not only for definingthe relationship between linguistically structured thought and movement of energy, butalso for decoding the messages of the energy system in the body and identifying theirexpression through linguistically structured thought. We explore how our culturalconditioning has taught us to ignore the messages from the body and defer to the rules,whatever they may be, at work, at home and in relationships. We have been taught to valuelinguistically structured thought, which often translates to logic and reason, above allelse in our lives. But have you ever noticed that before you ever think a linguisticallystructured thought there is always a movement of energy through the body? We sometimescall that movement ‘a hunch’ or ‘a gut feel’. And yet, as our thoughts become morehabituated, we notice the energy less and less, as it has become a habit of thought andmoves through deeply rooted existing pathways, with very little resistance from tissue inthe body. Science tells us that the average human being thinks about 65,000 thoughts aday. That’s the good news. The bad news is that more than 90% of them are exactly the sameas the ones we thought yesterday!
As you allow yourself to think new thoughts, meaning to move away from the traditional,culturally conditioned, biased thinking, the topography of the brain is actuallytransformed by the action of this process and its related movement of energy. When thishappens, a sensation runs through the body. You have just had an original thought or a newinsight, or an interpretation that is entering your awareness for the first time. It isnot unusual at such times to find yourself unable to put words to what you have justexperienced. When this happens, you become able to perceive your experience through neweyes, to process the data of your life through new thought models. It is now impossiblefor you to come to the same old conclusions.
Personal power is the deep sense of calm and alignment that comes from knowing that youcreate your own reality. What matters is not what happens; what matters is what you doabout it. Personal power is trusting, at a very deep level of mind, that no matter what isoccurring in your experience, you created it. If you created it, you can change it andcreate something else instead. With this level of trust also comes a willingness to thinknew thoughts, take risks, say no to the things that hold no value for you and moveforward. What also comes with this level of trust is a willingness and an ability to allowyourself to know the truth – not truth as an absolute but truth as it exists for you, fromdeep inside you where you live.
Your body is sending you messages all the time. You will interpret these messagesthrough culturally conditioned thinking, which may result in your interpreting them aspain or the flu or a sinus headache. Were you to become more familiar with the energycenters in the body, you would come to realize, for example, that your headache is aboutthe energy center called the Third Eye, which is the center of ethereal sight, theplatform on which we stand to move into the future, or the center of the possible self. Ifyou are experiencing pain, which is caused by a blockage of movement of energy, you maywant to consider what is going on in your life with regard to your future. Are youallowing yourself to know the truth of where you want to go and what you want to do? Ofwho you want to become? Are you experiencing confusion about your next step in life andfeeling uncertain about taking action? Are you trying to push away an insight that youknow is there and, should you allow yourself to acknowledge it, you will no longer be ableto live as you do? (For more detail, refer to Anodea Judith, “Wheels of Life”.)
Each of these energy centers relates to a specific level of thinking, meaning thatmovement in each of the energy centers carries clues and cues about its correspondinglevel of linguistically structured thought. When you work with both of these together(integrating the process of the left brain and the right; or the processes of theconscious mind and the unconscious mind), you become aware of things that are sometimeshidden from view. Learning how to decode these messages could be the key to changing yourlife. There is no greater sense of power than to know that you are in control of your owndestiny.
Take the big plunge and read Candace Pert, or Valerie Hunt or Anodea Judith. So what ifthey weren’t recommended reading in high school or university! You may be surprised toknow that science has made leaps and bounds since you and I were in our twenties! We arenot who we have been taught to believe we are. We are multidimensional, multi-facetedexpressions of pure potential. But sometimes, when we look in the mirror, we’d never knowit.
If you enjoyed this article, additional information is provided on the CD Pathway to Personal Power also by Louise LeBrun.