Thursday, March 29, 2012

Owning Your Power

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. You're the guy who'll decide where to go.   
-- Dr. Seuss

You have a unique power: the power to love, the power to achieve, the power of your own way of being. You can deny this power, you can give this power away, or you can own it.

Denying your power, you may use it but with a complete lack of awareness so that you are oblivious to what is happening (for good or ill) to your self or those around you.

Denying your power, you reject the person you were created to become, obviously believing that you know better than God.

Giving your power away is the choice of allowing others to live their lives through yours, to think their thoughts through your brain, to speak their words through your voice.  

Giving your power away is synonymous with giving away your freedom, as well as the responsibilities that go with it.

Why would any of us make such choices?

Some of us simply do not want to be responsible for our lives. “Let somebody else drive the car … I’ll just sit here in the back seat. It’s so much easier.”  Well, yeah, if you don’t care where the car is headed and that there just might be a God who is not amused by your giving away what he gave to you with a very specific intent for how you were to use it and where you were to drive it.

Some of us refuse to own our power because of the fear of not being able to manage it. Power can be destructive. We love repeating, “Power corrupts!” I mean, come on: we have all witnessed powerful people leaving a string of damaged people, families, businesses, or nations in their wake. Wisdom here demands that we just not pick up what will inevitably lead to destruction, eh? But there remains the nagging awareness that in shirking our own power we are choosing to be a slave to others, choosing to not live as the individual we were created to be, and choosing to not love others with all the power that is uniquely ours.

Interestingly, some power-deniers love living vicariously through the lives and achievements of their powerful friends, church leaders, and such. These people often assuage their guilt over not owning their power by saying that they are here on earth to serve these powerful people. Maybe. But, if you are one of these “servants,” I have a question for you: Of what use is your impotency to the powerful?

Refusing to own my power, I go through life relating to others out of weakness. Rather than my seeking to be to you and for you the person whom God created me to be, I seek to be whoever you need me to be. Your beliefs, values, needs, and vision is all that matters: mine are irrelevant. You can degrade my beliefs, spit on my values, ignore my needs, and nuke my vision. After all, you matter, I don’t. (Of course, when I speak of “my” beliefs, values, needs, and vision in this context, I am referring to those memories of who and what I wanted to be, before I gave away my power.)

Owning your power means that you “hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” People who own their power know that, because these Rights are God-given, they do not need the permission of other people or Institutions to pursue those Rights.

Owning my power means that I accept full responsibility for the world I have created and am creating. Powerful people never choose to play the victim.

Owning your power means that there is no longer a tin-cup shape hole in your heart that compels you to go through life seeking alms from others. As a creation of God you have value. When you enter into relationships, it is with a desire to share that value with others. When you enter the marketplace, you seek to trade value for value, not your weakness for the “charity” of others.  

In owning my power I recognize and respect in others the same unalienable Rights. I relate to you as freeman to freeman, not as freeman to slave. By the way, this includes those men and women who choose to behave as slaves. However much they insist that I am responsible for their life and happiness, I choose to treat them with the respect owed to a freeman, refusing to play the role of slave-owner.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2011

Owning Your Power II

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You. -- Dr Seuss

Owning your power is the first step in learning how to utilize and manage your power.

Okay, okay … actually, one of the first things that begins to happen is that you start looking back at all those false steps and missteps where you kept giving your power away!

How many times did I seek permission to have an opinion, an idea, or a point of view?

How many times did I look around for an “Okay, you may try that,” when wanting to go in a different direction from that of my friends or family?

How often did I edit myself, so as to not trouble or anger others? And I didn’t do this out of a sense of appropriateness, but out of a default mindset that refuses to take a stand and be who I am, what I am, and how I am in that moment?

How many times did I leave a meeting, party or get-together and no one even knew I was there?

These are all demonstration of not owning your power, or, at least, keeping it locked away.

Utilizing Your Power
Our intent is to learn to utilize our power for our own good, as well as the good of others.

Sometimes you may wish to blow someone’s socks off with your power.

Sometimes you will want to hold your power close to the chest, waiting for the opportune moment.

Sometimes you will want to show-up larger than life (authoritative), but at other times as a fellow traveler (approachable).

Pay attention to how your presence affects those around you and then manage your power according to your intended outcomes.

Have you ever known a very attractive man or woman with high energy who was oblivious of his or her affect on those around them? People left and right misinterpreting their every word and move. “He touched my shoulder, he is interested in me,” “She paid me a compliment, she likes me,” “They ignored me, those arrogant idiots,” and other such misunderstandings that could have been avoided had Ken or Barbie been paying attention.

Paying attention, he could have said something that would have placed the kindness in its proper context. Paying attention, she could have defused his increasing infatuation by some light humorous comment. Paying attention, they could have easily spoken or nodded their head in friendly acknowledgement of those across the room staring at them.

As you own your power, people will be attracted to your presence. Some are subconsciously attracted to your unique power because they intuit you can help them in some way. Others find your presence inspiring. With each of these, you will want to note the motivation and manage your power accordingly. By the way, you will also want to guard against allowing these people into your inner circle too quickly. They want something from you, which is all fine and good, but is NOT the basis of a lasting friendship.

Then there are those people who, having denied their own power, seek to live vicariously through you. The problem here is that, in the majority of cases, these people are vampires who will suck the life right out of you. If you are a generous hearted person, the temptation will be to give them some of your power so as to help them reignite their own. This rarely works. If you do choose to give them some of your power, have a cut off-date in mind, or at least note when you find yourself wanting to avoid them, or getting angry over their impotency. “Time to go.”

Of course, some will resent you and your power and go out of their way to either sabotage you or become overly aggressive with you, proving their power is superior. No one is allowed to eclipse her light. No one is allowed to appear more powerful then him. If this is your boss, then you will want to manage yourself accordingly. If this is someone you can stay away from, I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so. Small minded and insecure people are dangerous. 

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2011

Owning Your Power III

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind. -- Dr Seuss

Utilizing and managing your power requires awareness of self and the world around you, as well as a laser like focus on your intent.  If you are to use your power for your own good and the good of others, you will want to be aware of self while paying attention to the affects of your choices on the world around you and then evaluating the outcomes of your behavior by the standard of your intentions.

Why did I make that choice?
Why did I think that?
Why did I say that?
Why did I behave in that fashion?

What exactly was my intent and is it being realized?

Did my choice move me in the direction I intended?
Are my thoughts (inner dialogue) aligned with my intention?
Are my words moving the conversation toward my intended outcome?
Does my behavior demonstrate my intention?

People who deny their power rarely (if ever) ask themselves such questions. On a subconscious level, they know that to do so would reveal that they are living out of fear rather than faith, hope and love. To examine their inner and outer worlds would gradually force them into a corner where they would have to ask themselves, “What is the purpose of my existence and am I fulfilling it?” Once answered they would have to face the Big Question:

Today is set before you Life and Death: which do you choose?

Are you going to live your life On Purpose or will you choose the death of mindless existence? Are you going to love God, self and others to the extent that fear is being banished from your life so as to truly live as God intended, or are you going to allow fear to extinguish love?

Those who own their power have chosen to live and to love On Purpose and By Intent. Those who yield to fear are choosing death —at least for the time being— and are robbing God, self and others of their full presence, which includes the power of their love, talents, and wisdom.

Choosing Life we choose to own our power.

Choosing Life we choose to pay attention to where we are generating life and where we are generating death and then begin doing away with those beliefs, actions and attitudes that are generating death.

Choosing Life we are choosing to be the person we were created to become.

Choosing Life we begin making choices regarding our words, behaviors and attitudes based on what we intend to accomplish and create in our worlds, by the power of our Life and Love.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2011

Owning Your Power IV: Inentionality

Intention refers to a determination to behave in a certain fashion so as to achieve something that is important to you. I believe that one of the major keys to utilizing and managing our power is found at the level of intentionality. Whatever our intentions are—whatever we are determined to do or achieve—is what will inform, infuse and guide the use of our power.  

The fact is that our attention is directed by our intention. I will pay attention to what will move me forward or to what may get in the way of where I am determined to go. Everything else is adjusted accordingly.

Now, I am not referring to those whims or desires that come and go, nor am I referring to those intentions we tell our friends and our selves so as to be accepted and respected. (Actually, if you want to know your true intentions, all you have to do is see what you are accomplishing.) Intention generates determination that, in turn, propels us in a specific direction. Your present actions and even inaction reveals your intention.

If I intend to use my power entirely for self –self-promotion, self-aggrandizement, and self-protection— guess where my attention, and thus my power, will be directed? And guess what possibilities for action will be filtered out by my intention?

If, however, I broaden my intent to not only care for self but, in the process, also intend to serve others wherever possible on the quest, then my attention will be broadened to take in these possibilities.

Conscious and Subconscious Process
For many people, much of what they are determined to do is held at a subconscious level. Something happened to them years ago that, by the power of the experience, shaped their intentions.

"My parents rejected me so I am determined to never be vulnerable to love and be loved again." The intention to avoid rejection focuses their attention on rejection: every slight, every raised eyebrow a sure sign of impending disregard. It also potentially creates an intention to Reject Before Rejected.

"As a youth my power was ridiculed so I am determined to aggressively assert my power at every turn." Or, perhaps, I will be determined to hide my power.

When you are clear about your intentions, your conscious and subconscious mind will constantly seek out opportunities for attaining what you intend. It is an automatic process!

If my intention is to generate more income, I WILL constantly be looking for opportunities to make this happen. My intention will guide me in the use of my power.

If my intention is for you to see, hear and feel my love, then I will consistently be seeking out ways to do this. The automatic process will guide how I utilize and manage my power, in this regard.

If I truly intend to be successful in my chosen “arena of achievement,” (Tom Peters), my attention will be focused on doing all that is within my power to equip myself and to do all that is necessary to achieve success. This is where my power will be focused. Conversely, if I intend to stay safe and secure, and to never push myself to the limit, then my attention and actions will be guided toward looking for the easy way, the safe way, only seeing those possibilities that will satisfy my intentions.

If you desire to own your power and to wisely utilize and manage it, then you must begin working on your intentions. What is it I am determined to achieve? What kind of man or woman do I intend to become? How do I intend to affect the world and people around me? Be clear here and your power will automatically begin moving toward achieving what you intend. 

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2011

Owning Your Power V: Intentionality v "Motives"

When I intend to be a loving person--when my determination is to demonstrate love in ways that others can see, hear and feel this love—my conscious and subconscious mind will automatically begin the process of seeking out avenues to do just this. I will also maintain a consistent awareness as to where I am and am not achieving what I am determining, and then adjusting my behaviors, attitudes and words accordingly. I am not interested in merely feeling loving; I am determining that others will be experiencing this love.

When it comes to motives, however—at least as I am using that word here—calibration and adjustments are irrelevant. “I AM feeling love toward you, whether you are getting it or not. If not, that’s your problem.”

People who are determined to produce X and see that they are getting Y adjust accordingly. My words and actions did not produce X so I choose a different tact. It’s a no-brainer. But it is right here where we discover the difference between those whose intentionality is to produce X and those who only wish to feel X-ing. For many people all that matters is saying, “My Heart is Filled with X.” It doesn’t matter that everywhere they go what people are getting from them is Y.

We see this delusion in many of our politicians. They say, for example, that their hearts are filled with compassion for the poor. The fact that their actions (policies and regulations) create more and more poor people is irrelevant. Results are meaningless. Why? Because it is all about feeling compassionate not about truly helping the poor.

Before you start screaming, “Amen,” however, look at your own life. Are you producing, over time, what you are professing to be your intentions? If you are not, then it is time for a Reality Check.

Owning your power includes taking responsibility for what your power is producing.  

Yes, yes, if your intentions have only been embraced in the last few weeks, you probably need more time to compare your stated intentions with what is being produced. However, if this is not the case, if reality isn’t verifying your stated intentions, then wisdom dictates a change in tactics. Reality also might be dictating you check your actual intentions.

Back in the early 90’s I heard Daniel Tocchini refer to our individual worlds as a mirror. Brilliant metaphor. If my life is strewn with broken relationships—no matter what I profess about my loving heart--these mirrors are reflecting that I must change how I am seeking to demonstrate love or it is revealing a heart that just may be filled with a determination other than what I am professing.

Professing noble intentions may garner the applause of others, but for those of us whose intentions (determinations) are to achieve specific outcomes, applause means nothing and feelings of nobility useless: for us, results and achieving outcomes are what matters.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2011

Brown Outs

As you travel around Africa, sooner or later one of the things you will experience is a rolling brown out. So as to conserve energy, the utility company will target specific areas at specific times where it will dim the power, so as to conserve energy for later use. My experience is that we humans often do the same thing: We only have so much energy to get us through the day’s activities so we pick and choose which tasks we need to be up for, and where we can turn on auto- pilot and simply cruise without expending a lot of power.
However, there is another reason behind human brown outs that is not based upon being wise but upon fear. By turning the power down, say, in my familial relationships, I automatically dim the lights so as to not see what I do not wish to see, but, actually, have seen but am now pretending to not see. Don’t you see?

I don’t want to own my power at home because …

if I do, I won’t be able to manage the conflict and the marriage will end in disaster and it will be my fault.
Owning my power means taking responsibility for the effects of that power and I do not want to be responsible for what is happening.

I do not want to face the effects of choosing to not engage my power.
(“Passivity” is a choice, by the way.)

if I just let sleeping dogs lie, I can at least sustain the status quo.

You choose to not own your power, all the while experiencing an anxiety that screams, Engage! Engage! Bad things are about to happen!
Yes, you do see. Your anxiety tells you that you see. But you pretend not to: you avoid, you evade, you feign confusion, and you deflect.

No I don’t. (Avoidance)
I tried but it got worse. (Evade)
I wouldn’t know what to do. (Confusion)
I’ll turn the lights back on when s/he does. (Deflect)

Reality is going to win here. Whether it is on the job, at home, with a friend or someplace else, sooner or later, it hits the fan and the room smells like a toilet. There is no hope if you stay in the dark. At least if you turn the lights back on and own your power, there is a possibility of solutions and healing. Brown Outs insure defeat. And if you turn the lights back on and still experience a defeat? Well, you can, at the very least, maintain your self-respect.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2011

Brown Outs II

One of the more frequent justifications for Brown Outs that people give is, “I don’t want to anger her/upset him/hurt them.” The challenge is that, in some situations, there certainly are wise reasons for utilizing my power in a gentle fashion. We can all think of circumstances with a boss or employee, a child or a grandparent, a friend or a teacher, where throwing around all our power would not achieve our intended outcomes. However, what about those circumstances where I pull back my power because I am refusing to honor my own values, refusing to require others to respect my decisions? My experience is that, when I make such a choice, my power is not being conserved but denied.
If I do not respect my values and beliefs, why should others? “It’s okay. You can crap all over what I hold most sacred.”
If I don’t honor my own decisions by maintaining my course, why should you? “No, no, no: feel free to step right in and circumvent my choices. After all, your life and journey is far more important than mine.”
When I experience pain over what I perceive as disrespect and choose to say nothing about this, what am I communicating to myself and to others? “Go right ahead and keep on doing what you are doing, saying what you are saying. My perceptions and experience have no value whatsoever … and, anyway, I have no right to my feelings!”
I have (to me, anyway) an annoying habit of constantly saying, “Sorry,” whenever I do or say something that I think might have crossed or inconvenienced you in some fashion.  Part of this can be attributed to manners and seeking to be sensitive to others. But – b-u-t – some of it is a tacit profession that you and your welfare are far more important than my life or my Self.
In the past, if you were hurt with me, I wanted to know it so I could either explain or ask your forgiveness. I think this is a healthy response, by the way. However, the Not So Healthy response was that, if I was hurt with or angry at you … well, that was an entirely different situation, as my feeling were pretty much always irrelevant. So much for relationships based on mutual honesty and respect, eh?

What happens when, in owning your power, you choose to behave in ways that anger or otherwise hurts the feelings of one of your close buddies or a family member?
Question: Is his hurt feelings with you the litmus test for the wisdom of your choices? While you regret his hurt, you have a responsibility to live your life according to your faith, beliefs, values, etc. He doesn’t have to like it but, if he wants to maintain a healthy relationship, he will respect your choices, as you will want to respect the fact that he differs with you. Or you can pull the plug on your power, yield to his preferences for you, and live in a Brown Out.
For a very long time, I took responsibility for the emotional responses of others. If Dad was angry: MY FAULT. If you were hurt with me: I did something WRONG. It’s one thing if I set out to push my dad’s hot buttons or hurt your feelings, but simply because Dad is upset with me or you are hurt with me doesn’t necessarily mean I have done anything wrong.
Please. I am not suggesting that we blow our friends off over an upset or a breakdown. Many, many times, differences are not conflicts: they only appeared this way before we had an honest conversation. Sometimes, the friend has a valid point we will want to consider. My point here is for those whose default position is to always discount their beliefs, their values, and their boundaries, and choose to live in a Brown Out.

Stop it.

Cut it out.

Cease and desist.

Go get a shot of testosterone.

You are a unique creation of God. You are you: you are not him, her or them. Honor this you. In other words, honor your own power. People will not always like it, but you were not placed on this earth to run around pleasing everyone, while denying the person that God created you to become. Believe me, anyone worthy of being called “friend,” will respect your integrity and never ever ask you to live in a Brown Out.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2011

Guarding and Managing Your Power

One of the more debilitating things for your power may be some of the people you are hanging around. Possibly, up until now, you haven’t thought of it, but you have experienced this. These are those individuals who most always leave you feeling drained of all power.  Sometimes an individual is in a bad way, needing far more than they can give, at present. I am not writing about those people. No, my focus here is on avoiding people who are always a drain on our power.
Vampires. These are black holes that can never be applauded enough, cared for enough, loved enough, counseled enough, placated enough: even multiple apologies for past hurts are never enough. Vampires will suck the power right out of you. Their guiding principle is to use, use, use: never to give. Avoid them.
Losers. I regret the term but I can’t think of a better description. No matter what these individuals do in life, it doesn’t work. Relationships are always breaking down and breaking off, jobs are constantly being lost (through no fault of their own, of course). Nothing ever works out for good in their life. Call them unlucky if you wish, but I call them losers who wish to be losers because they keep doing the same things, exhibiting the same behaviors that have never ever worked. My belief is that there is a reason for their losing streak – a secondary pay off, if you will—that is more valuable to them then success. They want to lose, to be pitied, and even to be rejected: it’s part of their grand strategy for attention. Stop giving it to them.
Victims. There are tons of books out there on Victim-ology and how such people are annihilating our culture. These are people who, long ago, suffered a terrible injustice—sometimes real, sometimes, imagined—and insist on everyone around them paying for this injustice. It is a crown of thorns by which they define themselves and all their relationships. It is their North Star. Sure, they would never see themselves in this light but everyone around them knows this to be an accurate description.
You don’t relate to such people: you relate to the injustice they suffered. The laws of love do not apply to them, only to you. While you must be patient, kind, not easily angered, and never keep records of wrongs (I Corinthians 13), they have been emancipated from the laws of love because, after all, “I have suffered so much.”
Maybe you may wish to work with such people, if you are a counselor, a therapist or a coach. Everyone else should keep his distance or your power will drain right out of your toes.

Introverts and Extraverts
            You are a unique individual with a unique personality. Subsequently, how you manage and guard your power will be unique to you. Here, I only want to consider the differences between introverts and extraverts.
Introverts. I am an off the chart introvert. I have learned to behave in certain ways so as to be successful in the endeavors I pursue. As I want to raise money for the charities I believe in, I had to learn how to work a room full of strangers. As a corporate trainer my clients better believe I can’t wait to be with them, even if it is for 18 hours a day. I love what I do but it taxes me beyond the imagination of most extraverts.
Introverts need time alone. One psychologist told me that for every hour with people, introverts need 6 hours of down time. I am not sure this is true for all introverts but it is a fact that introverts are charged by being alone or with the closest of friends, but only friends who understand their need for quiet.
Usually, what empowers introverts is such things as listening to music, reading books, watching movies, and visiting museums … but not with strangers! Writing this, I also need to point out the temptation for introverts is to allow being alone to use them, rather than using being alone for re-charging their power.
            Being with others charges extraverts. They love groups of people. If they are alone for too long, their power begins to wane! This doesn’t mean that extraverts do not see the value of being alone; only that it is usually not how they re-charge. The temptation for extraverts is to not always be as discriminating as they need to be in the people with whom they chose for empowerment. Whereas introverts will instinctively shy away from people who overtly drain them of power, extraverts are prone to thinking that the sheer magnetism of their power will cure what ails the vampires. After awhile they go home wondering why they feel so drained. After all, “people charge me!”
Obviously, these are generalizations: lumping people into categories should always be done cautiously and with the understanding that some introverts love meeting strangers and some extraverts love being alone for days at the beach. With this caveat, look back at when you experienced the fullness of owning your power. What did you do that made this possible for you? Whatever it is, make it part of your routine. Or else!

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2011

Owning Your Power: Managing Conflicts

Snippets of emails I received after the last post:

“As my boss is a vampire, what am I to do about …”
“My (family member) has no concept of boundaries …”
“What do you do when you are married to a victim?”

As I do not know all sides of the stories contained in these emails, there is no way for me to give any detailed advice or counsel.  However, it does give me an opportunity to bring up the subject of “difficult conversations,” especially as it relates to managing and guarding your power.

Conversations v Monologues
When we are angry or upset, the tendency is to Hold Forth: We pronounce, we pass out edicts, we push back … hard. And we do this before we even know what’s going on in the other person’s head and heart!
Conversation are about searching for deeper issues, defining terms, agreeing on principles for a healthy relationship, and other such areas of concern. Monologues are about proving the other person is wrong and making them pay.

Before we engage in such conversations, we will want to determine our outcomes.
Do you want to win an argument (Be Right) or discover possibilities for maintaining this relationship in a healthy manner?
Where and how do you think the breakdown occurred and what are you tentatively thinking is the best way forward for all concerned parties? I stress “tentatively” because you will want to maintain an open mind as to the nature of the breakdown and, therefore, remain flexible as to the way forward.

Sharing Your Pain
As I believe we should be ready to be wrong or to have misunderstood, I suggest we share our upsets as our experience, not as the-truth-of-the-matter.
Stay away from identifying with your upset. “I am experiencing anger”, not “I AM angry”; “I am experiencing hurt,” not “I AM hurt.” Anger and Hurt are not who you ARE! The problem with identifying with our upset is …
When I make my upset about who I am then the other person is attacking my identity, the core of who I am. This only exacerbates the breakdown, because rather than sharing my experiences, I am defending myself from a personal attack. Defensive people don’t have conversations; they have fights to the death.

Feedback is Only Information
Feedback is what you are hearing from the other person. O, sure, they may believe their perceptions are truer than true, but, until you decide whether or not this is accurate, all you are hearing is information. However, and this is important, you need to have the same mindset regarding your feedback. 
Of course, it is almost impossible to hear feedback solely as information, once you let it inside your heart: so don’t. Think of yourself as the catcher on a baseball team. You catch the ball (feedback), look at it, and ascertain whether or not it belongs to you. If not, throw it back to the pitcher! (Respectfully, please: no shots at the head!) “Thank you so much for caring enough to share your thoughts with me. However, at least at this time, I don’t believe this belongs to me.”
Why “give it back” to them? Because if you don’t they will walk away believing you agreed with their feedback. If they do this they will have certain expectations as to your future behaviors in this matter between you: expectations that won’t be realized. Obviously, this will only add to the breakdown.

Owning Your Power
Relational breakdowns are painful. The challenge is maintaining our equilibrium so as to not begin either throwing our power around in potentially harmful ways or choosing to cut our electricity off for a while.
Stay focused and stay strong, or at least as strong as possible. “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” (Ken Blanchard) If it is erroneous, it is still valuable, as it is a window into the mind and heart of the person giving it. If it is factual, you get to grow in wisdom. Either way, it is win for you!
And if you discover that you are dealing with a vampire, loser or victim? Sometimes you simply walk away from the relationship. There are situations, however, where you can’t do this. You need the job or you will see this person at all family functions, as you are a blood relative! What now?
As all situations are unique, I really don’t have solutions or answers for you. I can only give you some guiding principles that may or may not be useful.

Be true to yourself. By this I mean, maintain your personal integrity. You can remain respectful and gracious, without allowing the other person to walk all over you. You can keep your distance without making a scene. You can steer the conversation toward the weather or sports or some other innocuous topic. You can ask the person about a matter that you know they will find interesting and then let them Hold Forth for the next 15 minutes. No gauntlets, no exposed veins.
Maintain your boundaries. “Let’s not go there,” is a perfectly legitimate thing to say. So is, “This is not an appropriate thing for us to be discussing here.” Waiting until later to have a private conversation where you ask them to never Do This or Say That again is preferred over mouth-to-mouth combat before spectators. This is not Thunderdome: it is the place where you have to work everyday or the family-get-together. Collateral damage only increases the potential for irreparable breaches.
Avoid the Nuclear Option. If you need to, simply walk away from the conversation. If she is embarrassed or chooses to be angry, it is her own doing, not yours. If you cannot walk away, remain silent, while maintaining your dignity
Remember that this person is still a creation of God. God loves him more than you can imagine and more than he is aware. This doesn’t mean you must like him or approve of his behavior, only that you treat him respectfully. It also means that you are not responsible for him Getting that he is a vampire. This is between him and his Creator.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2011

Owning Your Power: Finding Your Voice

One of the ways you can spot someone who is owning his power is that he has his own voice.  (Yes, yes, I know this sentence is grammatically incorrect. However, it is psychologically correct, as “owning” denotes an ongoing process.) Your power will speak with your voice: no one else is controlling your mind and heart (your power) so no one else is controlling your voice.
People who deny their own power usually have allowed others to take up residency in their heads and hearts. “This is what you should/must feel; this is what you will think. Therefore, this is what you will communicate.” ACK Polly wants a cracker!
Finding your voice is a process. You will hear or see something in an individual or read it in a book and take it out for a spin. You will watch a co-worker or a friend you admire or one of your parents and what you see resonates as True For You: so you take it on as your own… and see if it fits or not. A little adjustment here, a little there and, Voila!, “It fits!”
When I first began speaking publicly, I sounded like any number of men whom I admired. The first year or two I “tried on” any number of people (we call this “modeling”) but after a while I developed my own voice. Or did I?
What took me much longer was to develop my own sense of self: my own beliefs and ideas and emotional responses.  I was raised in a world where my beliefs, ideas, ideals and emotions were dictated. I don’t mean that someone held a gun to my head. However, the cost of having the “wrong” beliefs and such was a severe lack of approval or even outright rejection. To be as gracious as possible, it is very difficult to develop your own voice in such an environment.
Parents, I think, often miss it here, in so far as they don’t allow their children to express their honest thoughts and emotions. I am not suggesting we shouldn’t help our children process their minds and hearts toward a more healthy way of being, only that if we cut the process off – if we do not allow them to own what they are presently experiencing – they begin searching, not for what is true for them in that moment, but only for what should be thought and felt. Right Then and There. What this produces are children who no longer seek to discover their own identities but seek to be whom and what someone else says they are supposed to be.
We all have known parents who, rather than rearing their children to be individuals, instead, mold and shape them to be “whom I should have been,” or into the incarnation of Dad or Mom. “I couldn’t be or do ‘x,’ so you will do this and be that person.” “I am ‘y” so you will be ‘y,’ as well.” Sure, we have beliefs and values that we hope and pray our children will adopt as their own, but this must be done with respect for their individuality.
Years ago I was counseling a man who was struggling to find his own voice. Now, he disagreed with me as to the nature of his struggles, rejecting my observation that he appeared to always want to say what others wanted to hear. During one of our sessions he mentioned that he kept a journal. I asked him if he would mind allowing me to read some of it, noting that he could decide what I read.
 The following week, I sat across from him and began reading what he had written. It only took me two pages to have a perfect example of what I was seeking to communicate.

Monte: You have edited this.

Client: Uhhh yeah. You think I want my wife or parents to know what I really think? … I can’t believe I just said that.

Monte: I can.

Finding your voice requires that you develop your own heart and mind. While you want the input and help of others, at the end of the day it is your heart, your mind, and your power. Frankly, I have now come to the place where I would rather be honestly wrong then parroting what is right but not presently real to me.
Toward developing your own heart and mind, ask yourself: What do I believe about God, Love, Truth, Goodness, Justice, Liberty, and Beauty?
Furthermore, and more to the point of finding your voice, what is the purpose or reason for your existence? We are not here to waste oxygen: we are here to make a difference. Subsequently, finding our voice will include finding our “message.” And how do you find your message?

Start with answering these two questions:

What do I believe gives my life purpose?

What is it that I most often do for others … or at least find myself desperately wanting to do for others?

Your answers will give you insights – they will point you in a specific direction.

For your personal power to be efficacious, it must have focus. One of the ways you will be able to tell just how focused your power is will be in the clarity of your communication regarding your heart and mind.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2011