872nd Week: Noticing Mutual-Empowerment and Power-Over Dynamics
When I actively taught Somatic Experiencing, one of the themes that I passed along from my first SE teacher and good friend, Diane Poole Heller, was the distinction between expressions of “power over” and those of “mutual empowerment.” Diane embodies and expresses mutual empowerment in her relationships with the people around her and her influence and modeling have had a powerful impact on me. The distinction between power over (where there are only two options—you’re on the top or you’re on the bottom) and mutual empowerment (where no one has to lose power in order for things to work out) has stayed with me as an active intention to support mutual empowerment in every way I can. I have lived that not only as a teacher but also as a mentor. When people talk about the “new Earth” that needs to arise from the breakdown of the old institutions that are now being challenged around the world, what comes to mind for me is a fundamental shift from power-over styles of leadership and dominance, including our relationship with the planet and all our human and other-than-human earth-kin, to styles that embody and express mutual empowerment within every aspect of our lives.
A key thing about mutual empowerment is that it has, as its foundation, the belief and experience that your having power doesn’t automatically take away from anyone else and their having power doesn’t automatically take away from you. A stance of mutual empowerment tends to naturally engender respect, as well as wishes for others to have as much success, happiness, satisfaction—whatever—as is possible for them.
For this week’s practice, I invite you to pay attention to those times when you encounter people or situations that express “power-over” dynamics and those where you see, or experience, styles of “mutual empowerment”. Also notice these dynamics in yourself so that if you have slipped into a power-over style of interaction you’ll be able to choose whether you want to continue in that mode or if you want to experiment with shifting into a mutual-empowerment style.Read More “872nd Week: Noticing Mutual-Empowerment and Power-Over Dynamics “
Week 643: Tracking Projections and Lovingkindness
One of the things that our brains seem to do, usually without our conscious awareness, is to project our fears, shame, discomfort, beliefs, and maps of reality onto others. Think of the last time you assigned a motive to someone’s actions only to discover that you were completely off base about what you thought was going on with them. It’s a natural human tendency Read More “Week 643: Tracking Projections and Lovingkindness”
697th Week: Gratitude for Help Along the Way
On my birthday last year, I had an opportunity to offer myself an unexpected gift, one for which I was inordinately grateful. It turned out that, upon awakening the morning of my birthday, it became immediately evident that I urgently needed a root canal. Much to my relief, my endodontist was able to see me at exactly the time my schedule allowed that day, although I would have canceled whatever I had to in order to see him.
As I sat in his chair, the local anesthesia taking effect I was filled with gratitude that this man had gotten training that allowed him to relieve my pain in such skillful and, frankly, easy ways. Read More “697th Week: Gratitude for Help Along the Way”