I’d like to show you a pair of glasses through which you can see the world. Those glasses, with two lenses, will show you how things work in your relationship, your family and your workplace. Clean and sharp, this lens will help you toward understanding, acceptance and compassion.
Look at the people around you as continually striving toward love and power. We can say that humans have two basic urges common to all of us: the expression of power and the successful attainment of love. They are, of course, related, but let’s first look at them separately.
When I say we have a basic urge for power I don’t mean control over others or authority based on roles. These are two misunderstandings about the meaning of power and contribute to our staying away from our own power. We don’t necessarily see power as a “good” thing. Let’s change that.
Power is the capacity to fully experience yourself and act out the full potential you have as a person. That’s two faces: experience yourself fully; act on your experience in an effective way. Everyone has this going on in his or her life. Everyone.
When you understand and accept this you can see the people around you as continually striving to be powerful. Look at your children, your spouse, your colleagues, people in the news, your employers, your parents. Everyone is walking around wanting to have impact, wanting to be significant in some way.
Given our personal history and the context we find ourselves in, that urge may be twisted, misguided, denied or frustrated. But the urge is still there. It is a huge part of the human condition: I am and I want to be significant. I want to be powerful.
As you see this in the people around you, you will find it easier to accept them and perhaps even help them in expressing who they are and what they want. It is fairly easy to see this in a two-year-old and the same drive is operating in the 40-year-old sitting next to you.
The more powerful we are, the more able we are to find and give love. The deeper we know ourselves and are able to articulate who we are and what we want, we will find it easier to see that and make a connection with another person. Two powerful people make a powerful relationship.
This second critical urge in humans – the desire to bond with others – follows and is dependent on power. We all enter this world with the desire to form bonds with someone else and often lots of someone elses. Acceptance, empathy, compassion are all part of that loving bond and these conditions or practices are things we all need to learn and often struggle with.
Learning, both conscious and unconscious, is critical to power and to love. While we are born with these urges, the practice of each is learned and most of this happens in the crucible of the family in which we start out.
It is in the early years of our lives that we come to terms with how we are going to be powerful and how we are going to give and receive love. The family is the training ground for power and for love.
Take a good look around you and a deeper look at yourself. See how we are all still learning and all still trying to express these two human urges: to be powerful and to love. Each of us wants to have impact, to be significant to at least one other human and to form a deep bond of love.
When you look through these lenses, life becomes a little more joyful.
John Thomas Wood