Just before Christmas, members of my family were plunged into darkness as the electricity went off in the city of Toronto. Some returned to normal soon after, but a dear cousin and aunt were without power for several days, with the lights going on just before leaving for a family dinner at my parent’s house. Fortunately they all had fireplaces and homes that were relatively well suited for the cold, and my family is a sturdy stock, however, it got me to thinking about the metaphors that we can draw about lack of power in other ways. And as you know, the subconscious mind loves metaphors and stories. So let’s explore powerlessness that has nothing to do with electricity (or does it?)
Shared Power, Personal Power
Having gone through a power loss in Toronto last summer, I realized how much we depend on electricity in our lives. Yet my aunt mentioned something that made me think again – she said “in the summer, you can go outside into the shade, but in the winter, there’s no escape”. You see, while the house may be cold, the winter weather was much colder. With freezing temperatures and wind exposure, taking a break outside was out of the question. There seemed to be few alternatives to change the situation. While this was a situation that was being repeated around the city, it was something that each family member had to face individually.
And that’s true of anything that seems to take away our power. Often people don’t know how to escape the loop that’s been created. Even if there are others with the same problem, it doesn’t really matter because ‘my’ problem is most important to me.
However, while a power cut is obvious, some of our personal energy depleters can be a little more insidious. They can be people and relationships, work or home situations, and even our own expectations. You may want to take a personal ‘energy audit’ looking at areas of your life that diminish or increase your vim and vigour. Are there ways of decreasing or excluding areas that drain or exhaust you? Is there another way of looking at it?
Controlling the Environment
As I mentioned before, most of my family have fireplaces that became the heat and heart of the house during the power outage. Other areas of the house were closed off and not used, so that the heat that was produced was funneled into the areas where they were functioning, rather than wasting it on various other areas.
This is what we tend to do when we are facing issues of our own. We tend to shut down parts of ourselves that aren’t needed so much, to concentrate our energy into basic execution of our daily lives. We control, as best we can, what we use our resources on.
Unlike electrical power, our personal problems sometimes force us to cut off aspects of ourselves that are really additional assets that may be necessary in solving the issue. Because the subconscious mind is so protective, and wants to control what it can, all peripheral bits and pieces can be shut down, in an attempt to maintain sway over the problem at hand. This happens when we stop seeing friends or doing healthy and nice things for ourselves when we are dealing with a personal issue – the things that might actually support us in moving through the problem are the things that we ‘accidentally’ eliminate. Sometimes, when we’re dealing with an internal energy concern, it’s sometimes best to go contrary to our tendency to box ourselves into a ‘safe’ place, and open up the doors to other situations and people.
Resources and Resourcefulness
Using the gas burners to heat the kitchen? Extra quilts on the bed? Visiting people and places outside of the power problem area? All are additional areas that my family used over the days when they were without power. Even simple things like locating a battery powered radio for music and pulling out huge crosswords for entertaining focus rather than computers and televisions had to be resourced.
And so it seems with us and our power problems. At times we are absolutely brilliant in alternative ways of doing and thinking to help ourselves out of a sticky situation. As Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “we can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” This is true of our issues – often when we have depleted the ‘usual suspects’ and paths, we start getting a bit creative.
This is not to be confused with the emotional gymnastics we sometimes do to cover up our problems, to deny our Achilles’ heel, to avoid the pain… sometimes there is a fine line between the two. But this is about discovering other ways of approaching with the goal to solving the puzzle. Sometimes we need others’ inputs because their distance can sometimes give us perspective. Sometimes we need to go outside of the everyday pattern we’ve created for ourselves. Sometimes we need to stop, close our eyes, and look within with compassion and understanding, and the answers will be right there.
It could be worse?
This is not meant to minimize either power outage or personal problems in any way. Because four days in minus Celsius weather is not something that I’d necessarily deal well with. Yet they had cars to go somewhere with power and people to take them in if needed. They had alternative options. And so do we. If you are reading this right now, you have many more resources than a vast percentage of the people on the globe. Not only the basics, but that you are interested in developing your capable mind, are interested in supporting your deeper wellbeing, and have the wherewithal to look outside yourself to inform yourself on other ways of thinking, doing and feeling. While I’ve used it before, I’d like to end with a Marianne Williamson quote that speaks of a power that you have…
“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.”