KNOW WHERE YOU HAVE POWER, AND WHERE YOU DO NOT HAVE POWER…
Dear Ones –
During Oprah's speech at the Life You Want Tour, she quotes Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz, in that fabulous moment when Glinda banishes The Wicked Witch of the West with this line: "You have no power here."
Oprah was talking about how important it is in your lives to be cognizant of where you have power, and where you do not. She said that so much of the stress and pain we bring into our lives comes from trying to interfere in other people's energy fields — trying to meddle in domains where we simply have no power.
The truth, of course, is that the only energetic domain in which you have any power is your own. You don't have power over your spouse, over your parents, over your neighbors, over your co-workers. Even regarding your own children, there will come a moment when you realize that you no longer have any power over their energetic domain (and for most parents I know, that moment comes a lot sooner than they are expecting it, and is often a shocker) And trying to hold power (even with the best of intentions) over other people's lives will bring you — and them — nothing but suffering.
Then I heard Pastor Rob Bell speak about the same topic last weekend, when a woman in the audience came to him for advice, asking, "How can I bring my mother along on my spiritual journey?" This woman was in obvious distress, saying that she'd had such extraordinary breakthroughs in her own spiritual growth, and how she desperately wanted her mother to experience all this grace and liberation, as well, but her mother was stuck and depressed and resistant to change. You could see it was breaking the daughter's heart, and all she wanted to do was bring light and goodness to her mother's life somehow, but clearly it wasn't working. And it was making the daughter suffer horribly — just when she should be enjoying her own growth and evolution.
Rob Bell spoke to this anguished woman so eloquently about how — again — you do not have power in other people's domains. You can love them, but you cannot fix them or control them. Rob said, "I think 75% of the problems and suffering I see in people could be alleviated if they could just be made to understand that they cannot change others — indeed, that they are not even SUPPOSED to change others."
Ask yourself how much of the pain you suffer in life is because of something you wish somebody else would be, or do, or fix, or transform. Your friend who needs to stop drinking. Your brother who needs to get a job. Your mother who can't let go of her bitterness and rage. Your father who can't open his heart to love. Your daughter who can't stay in a relationship for more than six months. Your son who needs to change his diet and move to a new city and find a good church and get away from those bad-influence friends of his. You best friend who needs to discipline her unruly children. Your neighbor who needs to realize how her own unresolved emotional pathologies are causing her to stay miserable and broekn. Your nephew who needs to leave that horrible woman. Your cousin who needs to get counseling for her gambling. Your college roommate who needs to stop letting men use her. You boss who needs to learn how to meditate. And so on, and so on and so on and so on…
The fact is: You're probably right. All those people may indeed need to make exactly those changes. Obviously, their lives would be better for it. Any fool can see that.
But it's not your domain.
And meanwhile, you're leaking energy, when what you really need to be focusing on your own power, your own life (which is hard enough to manage, and has its own set of problems that really require your full attention…as any fool can see.)
I have been guilty of this forever. I have a history of getting deeply, profoundly, aggressively over-involved in other people's energy fields — losing sleep and peace over my worry and judgment about other people's lives. (Or, rather, I should say, losing sleep and peace over MY PERCEPTION of other people's lives.) Getting involved where I have no power. Neglecting my own growth and development because I'm too busy minding somebody else's business. Making myself sick with anger or disappointment or sorrow or frustration over how somebody else has behaved. Often destroying relationships because I go around messing where I have no right to be messing. (I don't care if it's out of love and concern — I still have no right to be making myself crazy by getting involved in somebody else's energy field.)
But now I have this new mantra in my head, one of the best lessons of the whole Oprah tour: YOU HAVE NO POWER HERE, LIZ.
You have no power in their domain.
You have no power in their energy field.
You have no power over their choices.
You have enough trouble (I remind myself) managing your OWN energy field. So focus on the one person in the world you can somewhat control (YOURSELF) and stay the hell out of their business.
And if somebody is trying to mess around in your domain, gently but firmly remind them (or at least remind yourself): "You have no power here."
Then go on about your way, in peace.
We must love each other. We must be kind to each other. We must be generous in act and spirit with each other. But for the sake of grace and sanity, WE MUST LET EACH OTHER BE. (Or else somebody might drop a house on us, too — as our friend Glinda would warn with a smile…)