“With great power comes great responsibility.”
Good ol’ Uncle Ben had it right: power and responsibility are linked. Victims have no power and no responsibility. Superheros have lots of both – and supervillians abuse both. In fact, if you shirk responsibility, you often wind up giving away your power.
It can be as simple as getting your own glass of water instead of asking your partner (or roomie or child), or as complicated as standing in your power as you end a toxic relationship.
Over the weekend, we realized the contrapositive is true. To help explain, I shall channel Pace for a moment.
With great power comes great responsibility.
Converted to an if-then statement:
If you have great power, then you have great responsibility.
Converted to the contrapositive:
If you don’t have great responsibility, then you don’t have great power.
See? I’m a scientitian! I got all logic-y and made no sense to myself there for a moment.
Okay, back to my own words.
We’re not talking about super powers (though I’d love to be invisible or telepathic). We’re talking about internal power, personal power. If you’re a powerful person, then you take responsibility for yourself and your life. You’re aware of how your choices, actions, and words affect yourself and others. You know that you alone are in charge of you and your life.
It’s scary to be powerful – but it’s exhilarating and exciting, too!
If, however, you take no responsibility for yourself, you lose your power. If you never get yourself that glass of water, you eventually tell yourself that you can’t do it. In the case of a simple glass of water, that’s patently not true – but in more complicated cases, it’s very true. If you always dodge responsibility, your power suffers.
And that leads us to the point (finally!). If you teach yourself (or if someone else teaches you) how to take responsibility, you learn how to have power.
If you get a cat, you have the responsibility to feed her and care for her, to give her clean water and a clean litter box and affection. You have the power to do those things – or to not do them. It’s the power of life and death for your new kitty. If you can’t handle that power, it would be better to avoid taking on the responsibility in the first place. Mistakes are normal and okay – she’ll forgive you for waiting til she whines at you to fill her food bowl. But she’s under your control, in your power, and she’s your responsibility.
I realized this over the weekend. Pace and I took a class (lots and lots of epiphanies in that class!), and we were discussing power. I mentioned that Dru struggles with empowerment, and the difficulties of teaching him how to be powerful. One of the teachers said, “Power and responsibility are linked.”
A light went off! If I give him responsibility, he will find power.
I started implementing this epiphany today. Today, he helped me with the laundry. He felt the power of making clean clothes happen. He knows how to recreate that feeling, and knows that if he doesn’t, his clothes won’t get that way on their own.
He even mentioned it already – “It’s nice to have clean clothes again, and it wasn’t all that hard!”
Pace and I told him that he gets an equal share in the power of choosing our new home (we’re moving in February) – and added that an equal vote in which house to live in means an equal share in taking care of that house. More power brings more responsibility – but more responsibility teaches power.
I learned this the hard way. I had given all my power away, and thus spent a long time feeling like a victim. I had no power, so I took no responsibility. Then, I found my power. I started taking on responsibilities. I discovered how to take responsibility for myself, and as a result, have the power to take care of myself in the ways I need (or to ask for it clearly if, for some reason, I actually don’t have the ability to do something).
Yes, being responsible for myself is scary. Being powerful is scary – just listen to all the whining Spiderman does. But in the end, we’re all very powerful beings; it’s time we took that to heart.