Personal empowerment has always been dear to me. Growing up in post-war Germany, I was determined not to be a victim but a creator of my reality. I was not going to be a sheep following blindly a leader. From young on, I was determined to not give away my power to anyone, to rather be empowered.
On the other hand, having ultimate power had no appeal to me either. I felt that a society functioned best when everyone was in their own way empowered. That’s where connection happens, that’s where people meet in their strength.
“Only the weak are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong.”1 Cruelty is only possible among people who are not in charge, who don’t take personal responsibility, who have low self-esteem and gain power through identifying with a powerful leader2. They combine absolute obedience towards their leader with hostility towards their subordinates, like the guards at concentration camps.
Kindness, care and consideration, on the other hand, are qualities of the strong, of the personally empowered. My main intention in my work was to help create a better world with the empowerment of the individual. This gave me a sense of purpose. It has always been my wish to support a worthwhile course.
No surprise that Gestalt Therapy caught my interest. Rather than being a victim of a condition, I was encouraged to see myself as the co-creator of it. Nouns were replaced by verbs to highlight the process rather than a static situation. For example, rather than say “I have a depression”, it was reworded to “I depress myself” and then examined how did I do that. The path to empowerment, I was taught, is through awareness.
The way I have been conditioned as a child rules my life as long as I am not aware of what I do and how I do it. I might feel free and yet be the victim of unconscious habitual patterns. I have no choice but to do what I habitually do, as long as it is outside of my awareness. The way of empowerment is through awareness, followed by acceptance of a given situation, acknowledgement of my truth, and trusting in an organismic process of change, trusting the process of growth.
In this, change, more or less, happens by itself3, as I allow myself to be where I am and with what I am. All life is process, and change is an integral part of that. If I want change, I cannot force it. I can only allow it to happen, in a natural way, as an organismic process. I can set an intention. I can choose a direction and visualize a desired outcome. But I cannot force the outcome. “When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction to that of the first body.”4 I only create an equal counter-force if I push or pressure something.
“You have powers you never dreamed of. You can do things you never thought you could do. There are no limitations in what you can do except the limitations of your own mind.”5
Much has been said and written about the power of the mind, about manifestation and the “law of attraction”6. With the power of the mind, we can attract what we want in life. Does it mean that we bring about what we want to manifest? Are we so powerful? Or is it due to our selective perception that we pay more attention to what we want? So it stands out and is reinforced. “What we see depends mainly on what we look for.”7
It sounds arrogant to me to say, “I create my own reality.” There are conditions that seem to be outside of my control. In a way everybody contributes to their experience by their thinking. There are different realities for different people. Everybody lives in their own world, that to a large degree is determined by their space of mind, by what they look for. I prefer to say, we co-create our own reality. Everybody is a co-creator.
Let’s use the example of a theatre. Everybody has their own play. We are the main actor as well as the director in our own play, where others have more or less dominant roles. In another person’s play, I have a more or less important role to play. In some way, we all are in each other’s play in different roles. There is a web of different realities that link and overlap. In a certain culture, they are similar, yet they are all distinctively different. Another person’s reality is outside of my direct control and it is none of my business.8 I am only responsible for my own reality that I co-create. “We’re all co-creating this world and our lives within it through our emotions, thoughts, and actions.”9
What I do for another ultimately helps me, as others benefit from my own positivity. We are all connected and impact on each other, as the plays of our lives touch each other, intertwine and resonate.
“Synchronicity and the idea of attraction have been given a lot of attention in recent years. The thought of things falling into place effortlessly because we’re attracting them is alluring, but I prefer to think in terms of allowing, rather than attracting” and “we’re one with the universe, our purpose is to be our magnificent selves, and the external world is only a reflection of what’s inside us.”10
As I am with other people, their reality contributes to mine. We live in a co-created field. It has been shown experimentally that we can strengthen or weaken each other just by the thoughts we send out to one another. A person was seated on a chair and a group of people behind him sent him alternatively positive or negative thoughts. The person on the chair had strong or weak responses when muscle tested according to the quality of thoughts being sent to him.11
“Peace is giving up the love of power for the power of love.”12
In my reality, I can choose my focus. I can choose love over fear, abundance over scarcity, life over death. I can focus on what is there rather than what I think should be there. I can be in the reality of the “now” and experience its power.13 And I can develop the habit of “Loving what is.”14
A bad habit is to focus on what we don’t want. It is not if we want it or not that matters but the fact that we give it attention. Whatever we put into our mind, we give attention to. So I might as well focus on what I want rather than what not.
What do you do if you are told that a certain condition is in your genes? You have inherited a condition, and the likelihood of manifesting it is apparently quite significant. Is this not the ultimate powerless situation?
When people are given the prediction to die within a certain time-frame – “I give you 2 months to live” – they usually die within that time, not because the doctor was right but because they believe so.15
What I find absolutely fascinating is the fact that new science now shows that in fact we are not dependent on our genes for certain conditions to manifest. We rather form our genes with our thinking.16
Different to what had been generally assumed by a materialistically reduced science17, it is not the genes that determine our fate. In actual fact, it is the environment that influences the gene and the DNA. We create our environment with our thinking and beliefs.
This is good news to me, that I can be empowered. I can be in charge of my life to the degree that I accept responsibility for my thoughts, for my decisions, for my actions.
I have an influence on my environment that determines my life. Yet, there are other factors that happen outside of my control. There are other people, environmental conditions, unexpected occurences, that people refer to as God’s will.
With an attitude of humility, I can maintain my power by accepting things that are outside of my control. Instead of running against the wall, I can look for the door. Byron Katie distinguishes between “my business, your business and God’s business”. Stephen Covey calls it “the circle of influence”18.
In my business, in my area of influence, I am in charge. Yet often, there are habitual patterns that get in my way. This is where it becomes useful to bring consciousness in and work with the subconscious mind that creates our habits.
Only 3-5 % of our brain activity is used for conscious thinking. The rest is subconscious. It determines our bodily functioning as well as our learned habits and patterns. We cannot impact on these with our conscious mind. We need to find access to our subconscious in another way.
How can I reach my subconscious mind? A method that is widely used in Energy Psychology is muscle testing that was developed in applied kinesiology. Other healers use pendulums or divining rods / dowsing.
The goal is to create cohesion between conscious thought and the subconscious. The subconscious has been compared to an engine room of a ship. It is the location of power that creates the movement. The consciousness is the captain who steers the ship and gives commands to the engine room.
It is vital to be aware of what you think. What is it that you give energy to? Is it love, your own magnificence or fear and critical, self-depreciating thoughts?
Affirmations and positive messages only work to the degree that they are supported by the subconscious. Processes like Psych-K, the Emotion Code, EFT or Hypnotherapy seem to access the subconscious mind. The task is to access this “engine room” of our mind, this power centre, to respect it and invite a positive cooperation between the conscious and subconscious, between head, heart and gut, between thinking and feeling, between the inner child and the adult.
I can be powerful to the degree that I achieve unity between the different parts of me, that I create personal unity in my own little world and therefore embrace the connectedness with all life, with all beings, with all around me. As I do this, I play my part in creating unity in diversity.
2See “Authoritarian Personality” as defined by Theodor Adorno
3Beisser, Paradoxical Theory of Change
4Newton’s third law of motion: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton%27s_laws_of_motion
5Darwin P. Kingsley
6Abraham, as channelled by Hicks
8Byron Katie on “whose business am I in?”
9Anita Moorjani, Dyng to be me, p. 141
10Ibid., p. 159
11See Bradley Nelson
12Peacefulness, Virtues Reflection Cards, The Virtues Project
13Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
15See also Lissa Rankin, Is there scientific proof that we can heal ourselves?
16Bruce Lipton, The biology of perception
17Rupert Sheldrake, The Science Delusion, TED talk
18Stephen Covey, The 7 habits of highly effective people