Jun 09

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Appropriate use of power

I had an interesting conversation with a wonderful friend today that got me thinking about personal power and how we use it.

Holly lost her husband suddenly a couple of years ago. His death was a shock for everyone who knew him, but I can’t even imagine how devastating it was for her – they always seemed to me like two sides of the same coin.

When I saw her today, there was a different light in her eyes. She told me that she felt like she’d turned a corner over the winter. It was thrilling to see.

Our conversation meandered until I heard her say the words “appropriate use of power”. When I’ve heard those words in the past, I’ve always heard them to mean that it’s not okay to overuse power – for instance, using power to disempower someone else. Today I heard it completely differently. Today I heard this: it’s not okay to deny the power that I’ve been given. That is an equally abhorrent misuse of power.

Holly said something that fascinated me – her husband had been such a powerful man that she was able to hide behind him and claim some of his power as her own. Now that he is gone, she has to stand up and be powerful in her own right.

Although the details are very different, I see a parallel in my own life. My father was a very powerful man. He abused power through overuse, often beating down those of us who were close to him.

In some inner part of me, I knew that I possessed the same type of power that he had. Knowing that I didn’t want to do to others what he had done to me, I made the opposite choice – to hide my power, to deny it, to disengage myself from it. I hid behind his power and claimed some of it as my own, rather than allowing myself to experience my own power.

My father is gone. I must stand up and be powerful in my own right, not as a reflection or a repudiation of him, but as an acknowledgment of me and my place in the world.

There are several entries on my List of 37 that speak to this:

6. Embrace my own power and stop belittling myself in my words and actions with others.

13. Remember that my presence is enough.

14. Stop trying to prove myself to others.

Here’s the truth I recognized today – downplaying my power is as disrespectful to others as overusing my power would be. I have been given talents, skills, and gifts (as we all have) and it’s my job to own them, use them, and fully experience them.

Today Holly and I jokingly agreed to be “Power Buddies” in helping each other to fully claim and stand in our power. Truth is, I kind of think it wasn’t a joke. 🙂

About the author

Leah Carey

Leah Carey is the Chief Miracle Officer of The Miracle Journal, where she writes about the large and small miracles that happen in her life every day. She is a life coach, speaker, journalist, freelance writer, and lover of life. In all of those pursuits, she works with people to identify what’s already right in your life so you can build an even more joyful and fulfilling daily experience from that foundation. You can find her on Facebook, , Twitter, and YouTube.

Permanent link to this article: https://www.leahcarey.com/themiraclejournal/2011/06/09/appropriate-use-of-power/


  1. Lisa LaPlante

    Made me think of the following quote immediately:

    “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
    ~Marianne Williamson

  2. Leah Carey

    I love this quote, Lisa! Thanks so much for sharing it here. 🙂

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