Claim Your Power

The ancient myths and legends are full of tales of rightful kings and queens who lost their thrones and struggled to reclaim them.  It was believed, in the ancient times, that the right to rule was given by God, by a higher power, and any pretender to the throne could never be more than that–a pretender.  The true king or queen always retained the right to rule and, in the end, was always restored to his or her throne.

This is true for all of us–no one but ourselves has the right to rule our lives.  No one else can or should.  No matter what situation we find ourselves in, no matter how dark or terrible, no one else can take from us the decision of how to react, of how to face the challenges before us.  We all have that right and freedom, and it can not be taken away.

Unfortunately, not many of us realize our power.  We think we are besieged by usurpers at every turn.  We think that others are trying to controls us–our families, our friends, our partners.  Our bosses, co-workers and strangers we meet on the street.  We feel like we have no control over our lives, and so we doubt our power and suspect others of stealing it from us.  We keep our guard up.  We fear others requiring our time and attention; we fear manipulation.

And perhaps sometimes we are right–perhaps some are trying to take our power from us, to prove their own strength by claiming what isn’t theirs.  But no matter how much they try, no one can take your power from you.  Not ever.  Return to the truth.  No one rules your life but you.  You are the one and only true-born king or queen of your personal kingdom.  Even if you’ve forgotten your power for years, it is still yours, and you can always reclaim it.

The choice is yours.  Anne Frank chose to find beauty out of the one small window that let in daylight.  Victor Frankel chose to bring compassion and sympathy into his experience of the Holocaust.  Mary, Queen of Scots, chose to die with the dignity of a queen as she went to her beheading.  We may not be able to control life, but we are always able to control what part we play in it.

The equally important part of this understanding, when it comes to relationships, is that every other person on this planet is also sovereign of his or her own life.  You cannot usurp the power others have over their lives any more than they can usurp yours.  So let them rule their own lives.  Even when it’s your child, your spouse, your best friend–trust that they are the only proper sovereign of their world, just as you are the only proper sovereign of yours.  You may think you know better than they do, but you don’t.  It is not your domain.

Awareness of your own power, and of the equal power of others, is what brings peace to relationships.  We no longer try to control others or fear that they will control us.  We meet as equals, the rulers of two kingdoms coming together, perhaps sharing stories, perhaps lending advice or aid, but never trying to take what cannot be taken, or defend what cannot be lost.

Allow Others To Be Themselves

Very often, it seems that other people are the reason we cannot find lasting peace.  Whether it is because your uncle always criticizes you, your co-workers aren’t doing their fair share of the work or a stranger cuts you off on the freeway, other people often seem like an assault against our balance and equanimity.  Sometimes these encounters work as a barometer of our own state of mind–when we are calm and relaxed, not much bothers us.  When we are in a state of unease (whether it’s from lack of sleep, hunger, stress, or any other factor), any disruption can drive us nuts and make peace seem impossible.  But sometimes, certain people, especially our nearest and dearest, are able to disrupt our balance even when we are in a relatively relaxed state.

There is a secret to finding peace in relationships.  You must believe that you are free to live as you choose to live, to be as you want to be.  And then you must allow others to do the same.

It’s a small shift in perception that can change your entire life.  Most of us grasp on to others–we think we need them, or need them not to act a certain way, or that what they do is because of us.  We are always on the defensive, always seeing the actions of others as either a boost to our own egos or as an attack.  But relationships do not need to be this contentious or this complicated.  Especially with those people you love and who love you.

Think about it.  Accepting another as they are, allowing them to be their own unique and changing self, is the greatest gift one person can give another.  Respecting others to make their own choices without putting your own agenda on it, allowing others to try things, to fail, to grow and change–what could be more supporting and loving?  Isn’t this what we are all seeking–someone to hold space for our truest, most authentic selves?

We get what we give.  Give others permission to be themselves, and they will do the same for you.  We are, after all, sovereign of our own lives.  When we doubt that, when we think others can control us or that we can or should control them, we build relationships based on fear rather than love, and we destroy the peace we could find with others.