Power is often exclusively understood as the ability to overcome someone or something. What if there was ALSO another kind of power that we need in order to be truly powerful?
If this kind of power had a buzz word, it would be *surrender*.
Take an emotion, such as anxiety. The forceful power, the one we’re usually most familiar with, will try to overcome this feeling through sheer will. On the surface, it’s a sensible strategy, otherwise it wouldn’t be the ‘go to’ for so many of us. It’s understandable that if we don’t like how something makes us feel, we try to get rid of it. There’s logic in this.
Another strategy is welcoming the anxiety by softening into it. After all, it’s not going anywhere. To say to the anxiety ‘YES, I allow you’ before ‘NO, I don’t want you’ is quite skilful, almost cunning. I’ll say more. Imagine how a person would respond to the two different statements above. Our anxiety will respond in a very similar way to how a person would. NO, will probably only make its voice get louder. When our anxiety is given permission to exist, allowed a space in our heart, our emotional home, it tends to get more comfortable, a little less shouty, and in my experience its prickly edges melt.
Tai Chi understands the power of surrendering. There’s a technique called ‘Pushing hands’. This technique demands that the practitioner invest in loss, which means to be willing to lose balance, in order to acquire it. We’re prepared to yield in order to gain more strength later. Surrendering to challenges, instead of pushing against them, can be a way of gaining more strength. It is a long term strategy. In the above example, by welcoming our anxiety, we get to know it more and then gradually find more autonomy from it.
We need both forms of our power, the will power that gets things done, and the skilful power that enables us to surrender. We often just need to learn WHEN to use which form of power.
If our definition of power is narrow we set ourselves up to feel weak and inadequate when we can’t overcome or control everything.
Life is not able to be fully tamed.
We may be able to tame a garden, but never a whole forrest. The power that is able to surrender gets this. Really gets it.