To recap this series so far: That revved-up feeling of force is what many people think of as power, in part, because we learn to use that feeling to overcome fear. But fear and force are both part of the body’s stress system, which sacrifices long term health and well being for short term energy. Over time, continual use of force as your primary momentum and power system will tax your health and energy levels. So forceful power is a false power because it steals from you rather than giving to you.
So what then is true power?
The real flip side of fear, in fact the flip side to the whole fear/force, fight/flight system is your parasympathetic nervous system. Where your fight/flight stress system revs you up, your parasympathetic nervous system, which I call your well-being system, moves you back into homeostasis, or a state that promotes regeneration and well-being. Even though it is associated with relaxation and rejuvenation, it is, paradoxically, also aligned with true power.
Why? Because it gives you real, sustained energy and contributes to your long-term well-being. It’s like plugging your circuits into a wall socket when you’ve been used to the burnout/recharge battery cycle of the fear-force system. It helps you to feel peaceful even in the midst of chaos by keeping your emotional reactivity in check; it makes you more intelligent by maximizing blood flow to your forebrain, it keeps you grounded in the present moment, which is the only moment that is real.
Admittedly, This kind of power can feel funny at first, because it’s a quiet constant hum rather than that revved up feeling of force. But once you learn to operate from this system, you step into your real power—your maximum intelligence and thus open to your maximum number of options, the ability to deal with the truth of the present moment while in the present moment, the ability to choose your actions rather than just reacting.
So why doesn’t anyone teach us this path of power? I think it’s because it makes you dangerous. In the way Nelson Mandela was dangerous to the status quo of apartheid; in the way Martin Luther King was dangerous to a segregated South. This power makes you dangerous because it shows you the tax that the fear-force paradigm has on your body and your life, it shows you the cost to your soul to follow someone else’s agenda. It compels you to be more yourself, to value your unique view of the world, to live your gifts to their fullest potential. When you operate in this power, you become unpredictable, uncontrollable; you are no longer willing to play small on the stage of your life.
If this sounds intriguing, then stay tuned. The next installment of the power series will talk about how to access this power, how to practice it, so that you can make it a regular part of your life.