I’ve been thinking about the word power lately and what it really means. This word can overwhelm us when we think of how power is used in a negative way to control and manipulate others and situations.
I want to talk about power plays because they can wreck havoc on our emotions. Power plays go back and forth like a ping pong ball until the “winner” walks away feeling temporarily satisfied and the “loser” licks their wounds and retreats. This victim and victor scenario takes two to play, but it can be painful for the one who has lost the tug of war.
Why do we do this to each other? Is this human nature? Do we enjoy the game?
Some do and thrive on it. I think that the behavior comes from instilled patterns that take hold over time. For me, these power plays are exhausting. It takes so much energy to sustain them. And the “fix” or “high” of winning is short lived.
So how do you handle this rough and tumble game that puts you on a roller coaster of highs and lows? You have to be willing to stand in your own power regardless of whose court the ball is in. I say, ‘Get out of the court.’ If you are with a strong player, chances are you will lose most of the time, with only intermittent wins.
Here’s a metaphor for what the scene looks like. Jack and Jill go up the hill. Jack says something, Jill retorts, Jack and Jill go back and forth until they come tumbling down. This goes on until one of them gets up and goes home or they both have had enough for the day and they both go home. The problem with this scenario is that it is addictive and keeps repeating itself.
What hooks us is the temporary gain of feeling stronger when we walk away Notice I used the word “temporary,” because that is the operative word here. If it sounds like I am implying an addiction to this pattern of behavior, you are right. I am.
Now for the antidote. Stand in your power by taking these actions steps:
- get quiet and create an image of a ping pong ball that never stops and evaluate you feel
- next get an image of yourself standing tall as an oak tree. The wind is blowing and the weather is harsh, and you are still standing strong and tall.
- call a friend or friends who you respect for their strength and who is a “straight shooter” – they say what they mean and do not play games. Evaluate how you feel after spending time with them.
- the next time you are with the endless “ping pong” player, stand as an observer and watch how you feel.
- Then stand still and see yourself as powerful oak tree who can stand alone and be strong.
If these images do not appeal to you, then go back to the game that never ends, but remember if the other player thrives on this behavior and you stay, you’ll be there forever.
I say, ‘Stand in your own power!’ You may lose these types of people in your life, but if you practice the exercises above, you’ll be able to attract other strong oak trees who do not gain their power at your expense. What a relief and opportunity to bring a wholesome and healthy perspective into your life.