In last week’s newsletter, I wrote about how we can become polarized against ourselves – and how this protective stance can make it difficult for us to feel free to move forward and make positive changes in our lives.
These inner polarizations can be so painful, and need warmth, care and spaciousness so they can unwind themselves. They need our welcoming presence – for this brings the safety that allows these protectors to soften and reveal their wisdom.
We become an ally to these places of worry or protest, rather than their adversary.
In a similar way, there are places in us that may be confused about power, sovereignty, and self leadership. If power and authority were abused in your early environments – and most of us have had painful experiences with power – we can feel polarized against and confused about power.
We can feel worried and uncertain – it is ever okay to exert power over ourselves? To ask ourselves to do something that a part of us doesn’t want to do, like exercise or set a limit with food? What do we do when we have an inner conflict of needs?
You may feel like expressing your power or leadership means you’re shaming, criticizing, or silencing parts of yourself. Expressing your self authority may feel like you’re being harsh with the parts of you that soothe with food.
These are some of the worries that can arise when we feel confused or uncertain about our power and agency. We may find ourselves feeling the entire spectrum of feelings – feeling powerless, feeling afraid to exert our power or strength, feeling angry about being powerless, feeling frightened of power or feeling jealous of those who seem to have an easy relationship with power.
We can feel paralyzed about moving forward.
If you recognize that you struggle with sovereignty and self leadership, and that you feel confused, worried, or unsure about expressing power in your relationship with food, you’re not alone. This is a doorway that nearly everyone walks through because power is so often abused in our world.
In the same way that we build a relationship with those places in us that were hurt and that feel worried, we also build a relationship with power and authority. I’d say it’s a crucial relationship for healing our patterns with food.
If you’ve spent a lot of time making room for your vulnerability and nurturing self compassion, and yet you feel like you’re not able to make the changes you’d like to make with food, healing your relationship with power may be the next step of your journey.
A healthy relationship with power is how you’re able to:
- stop doing what doesn’t work – doing the same thing over and over, while expecting a different result
- express both softness and strength
- and how you feel empowered to make changes in your relationship with food, your body and self care
I want you to feel empowered – to be the leader of your life, to be filled with power, to feel courage when facing difficult emotions and needs, and to feel both empathy and ‘good orderly direction’ for those parts of you that feel frightened and that need support.
Learning how to befriend rather than fight against our inner parts helps us embody and embrace our natural power. This then frees us up to follow through on the dreams, intentions, and hopes that are precious to us – and that are also needed in our world.
I’ll never forget a sign that was in a gym bathroom I attended for several years – “Please don’t throw paper towels, trash, and your hopes and dreams down the toilet.”
If you have hopes and dreams for healing, and it feels impossible to have peace, you might try exploring your relationship with power. You can begin with compassionate curiosity – what arises for you when you think of power? Where do you feel powerful? Where do you feel powerless?
In my own life, I can see how much of my soothing with food was a source of comfort – and also a balm for the ways I felt powerless. I know it sounds like a paradox, but eating was an expression of my power when I felt powerless.
Of course, afterwards, I felt powerless by the eating – powerless to stop doing something I wanted to stop. But when I made this connection – that soothing with food was a way to comfort myself when I felt powerless – I felt so much more clear and a lot more compassion for myself. And this compassion gave me power.
I hope your explorations of power brings compassion and strength to the places where you feel ashamed, stuck or frustrated.
And if you want some group support to explore your relationship with power, you can learn more about the Align class here. You can take this class as a home study or a group class. The group class begins January 30th.
Image credit: Friends, this art piece, Get to Know Your Power, is by Melbourne, Australia based artist Eddy Sara and was used with his kind permission.