Have you ever noticed that most of what we currently accept as truth, fact, or foundational; those dialectical dicta upon which we base our core beliefs, choices, and traditions; arose out of the opinions, judgments, or philosophies of prominent fixtures from the past? At different points in history, within various countries and cultures, certain things were given meaning and importance; usually based upon the powers held by those proclaiming their importance. As has been demonstrated by the zeitgeists arising out of human personality, social conformity, and species survival; there is usually an intellectual fashion or dominant school of thought that typifies a culture and holds the power at a particular point in time. Whatever individual, group, or collective a culture, or subculture, identifies as most important; based on fear, dependency, identification, or passion; becomes the holder of the power and establishes the rules and norms of the era. Such norms and rules are either imposed by the power holders, or created by those worshiping their lords, ladies, and icons. Such domination, or diademic influences, could be attributed to Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammad; the church, government, and corporation; Aristotle, Descartes, and Nietzsche; rockers, boy bands, and rappers; models, actresses, and debutantes; change advocates, rebels, and martyrs; to name a few. Whatever, or whomever, the individual, culture, or global society identifies as important at any point in time will impose relativistic influences upon our lives (whether accepting or rejecting it we take a position relative to the broader culture). I believe that each of us should create this power, and its related traditions, within ourselves based upon our own true nature.
The Power to Understand
In order to do this, it is important that we understand how power works, and the various ways it can influence our lives. Through this understanding, we can take back our power. When we allow others to hold power over us, it is usually because of fear, position, ego needs, or sensory experiences. Following you will find descriptions of seven widely accepted power types, along with two additional types that I am herein introducing based on my personal and professional observations. Legitimate Power occurs when a person in a higher position has control over people in a lower position in a culture, organization, or society. Coercive Power is where a person leads by threats and force. Expert Power is the perception that one possesses superior skills or knowledge. Informational Power is a temporary state within which a person possesses needed or wanted information. Reward Power is where a person motivates others through the use of desired goods, services, or commodities. Connection Power happens when a person attains influence by gaining the favor of, or is simply acquainted with, a powerful person. Referent Power is the ability to convey a sense of personal acceptance or approval, is held by people with charisma, integrity, and other positive qualities; and is the most natural, valuable, and enduring of these seven power types.
More Power to You
I have added Egoic Power and Sensational Power to the matrix. These two power types are related to the perception of thoughts and senses by the mind. We are influenced or controlled by them until we are able to move our consciousness beyond the limitations of our mind into the true nature of our spirit. These two power types can accompany any of the seven listed above. For example, if your boss is genuinely accepting, encouraging, and a super hottie; then she could be holding Referent Power, Egoic Power, and Sensational Power, if you give them to her.
Egoic Power occurs when people are able to temporarily satisfy our developmental ego needs or unresolved core personality issues. Such issues could include fears of failure, abandonment, or victimization; feelings of inadequacy, unworthiness, or guilt; and hypersensitivities to criticism, unfairness, and loss of control; to name a few. Those carrying such moldy baggage are vulnerable to others who, knowingly or unknowingly, temporarily satisfy their ego issues. For example, if a woman was abandoned by her mother as a child, she may have developed fears of rejection, feelings of inadequacy, and sensitivities to unfairness. These issues may prompt her to people please, be a know-it-all, and over-commit herself in order to be accepted, praised, and prove herself worthy. Egoic Power occurs when people temporarily satisfy such ego needs. When someone tells her she is beautiful, sexy, highly intelligent, and strong; they would gain at least temporary power over her. If they did this with knowledge of her vulnerabilities, then they would be intentionally manipulating her, usually for their own selfish gain. Her issues may blind her to the Egoic Power of those she is giving her power away to.
Sensational Power occurs when something we see, hear, taste, touch, or smell is compelling enough to strongly influence our opinions, preferences, or actions. It happens when we seek to imitate the appearance, mannerisms, or lifestyles of film stars, recording artists, or athletes; the image associated with a particular cigarette, beer, or firearm (or those advertising them); the addictive urges generated by specific subcultures, styles, or foods; the intoxicating allure of naked hotties, seductive costumes, or exotic sex; and the like. Sensational Power appeals to our senses, grabs our attention away from other things, and compels us to perceive, speak, or act based on its influences. This frequently results in perceptual distortions, poor prioritizing, and life imbalances.
Personal Power and Traditions
I believe that any power held over us should be held by us., and that we should create our own personal traditions based on the uniqueness of our true nature. To become fully self empowered, we must develop high levels of awareness, acceptance, and self control. We must be able to see and hold on to the realization that we are ultimately making our own choices, and could always make different ones; at least internally pursuant to our perceptions and interpretations, and usually externally as well. We therefore hold the power over our lives. When we are able to remove our egoic and sensationalistic vulnerabilities from the equation; we are better able to see and hold on to the truth of our personal power. By doing so, we can resist the egoic and sensory urges to give our power away to the sources of its gratification. Our needs satisfaction then comes from within, rather than from the various potential external sources.
Pursuant to such self empowerment, I believe that we should create our own personal traditions from the awareness and acceptance of our true nature. Traditions formed by others may or may not represent their true nature; but they probably do not represent ours. The illusion of social conformity allows individuals, groups, and cultures to gain power over others at the expense of their individuality, self empowerment, and spiritual development. Such traditions include, but are not limited to: religion, philosophy, family, career, and even holiday. I believe that, pursuant to these and all other traditions, we should create and live by our own. There may be enough overlap among traditions to allow for sharing; but whether or not this occurs, in order to maximize our spiritual development, we must empower ourselves to be ourselves. If we are trying to be like another, or what someone else wants us to be; then we cannot be ourselves. If we are not being ourselves, then we cannot grow from our true nature (we would be further developing an illusion). We can study or observe the traditions of others, incorporate them into our evolving awareness, and then create our own. Others can show us their way, but it is up to us to discover our own. This is not being anti-social, heretical, or deviant; this is being responsible, empowered, and evolutionary. If others view it negatively, then they either do not understand, or do not want to lose their power over us.
Photo Credit: By VaughnSaball (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons