Abuse of Power

May 1st, 2009 by Steve Pavlina

Do you ever mistakenly use your own power against yourself? Instead of focusing your creative energies to fulfill your desires, do you channel those energies into negative thoughts, feelings, and visualizations? If so then you’re succumbing to an abuse of your own power.

Here are some common patterns that involve using your power against yourself as well as suggestions for how to stop yourself and make corrective adjustments.

Complaining

When you complain, you’re using your power to reinforce and magnify whatever you’re complaining about. Why on earth would you want to feed more energy into something you don’t want?

The more you complain, the more you’ll continue to attract and create similar negative circumstances, and the more you’ll have to complain about. Once you step onto the treadmill of complaining, it’s hard to step off again.

How do you feel about people who complain to you about their lives? Do you empathize with them? Do you feel pity for them? What if they keep it up year after year? Don’t you sometimes feel like shaking them and shouting, “For God’s sakes would you please stop all the frakkin whining? I just can’t take it anymore! Try taking some responsibility for your life. Quit whining and go do something about your problems. Stop playing the victim role — it’s not who you’re supposed to be.”

Okay, so maybe you don’t say that to their face, but deep down that is sometimes how you feel, isn’t it?

Actually you’d be lucky if that was how you felt. A more common reaction is to not even recognize complaining for what it is. Making negative comments about our own lives has become so ubiquitous that you may not even notice it when it happens. Complaining has become an acceptable, “normal” part of human interaction. However, the truth is that complaining is an enormously disempowering trap. Learn to recognize it as a disease, and treat it aggressively when you encounter it, especially if you notice it’s coming from you.

Have you ever seen a complainer finish complaining? Imagine a complainer saying, “Well, that’s it! I finally finished complaining! I now have nothing left to whine about, so I guess I can go be happy now.” Of course they never actually finish. All they do is run themselves in circles, pouring more energy into the perpetuation of unhappiness.

Instead of complaining, do the opposite. Talk about what’s good in your life. If you have problems to deal with, then talk about possible solutions. Stay focused on what you want, not on what you don’t want.

If you’ve been a complainer for a while, you’ve probably surrounded yourself with a posse of energy vampires who feed off your negative energy. If that’s the case, you’re going to repel those people when you start shifting to become more positive. Trust me — they will likely freak out and won’t be able to handle it. Just allow that to happen. In fact, go make it happen if you can. If a parting of ways needs to happen, let it happen. You’ll be much better off.

When you talk about what’s good in your life and about solutions and opportunities instead of problems and obstacles, you’ll attract different people who can handle the new you — people who will play back at you with positive stories of their own. Then you can encourage the heck out of each other. These people are typically allergic to complainers, so if you complain a lot, you will naturally repel them, and they’ll want nothing to do with you.

If you can’t seem to make and keep high-caliber, positive friends, is it possible you’re repelling them by being too whiny? You can’t hide the way you use your power. If you empower your weakness instead of embracing your greatness, other people can quickly sense that.

When you encounter a chain complainer, don’t feed their addiction by rewarding their whining with attention or pity. Instead, try raising their awareness of what they’re doing to themselves. You might say, “I’d prefer not to relate to you on the basis of complaining. That isn’t going to serve either of us. Can we talk about what’s good in your life instead?”

Then you should probably duck.

People will sometimes freak out when you violate social conventions like this, but you’ll be doing them a favor in the long run. They may have to hear it a number of different times from different sources, but at least you’ll play a part in helping them kick the habit if they ever choose to do so. Better to shed some truth on their abuse of power than let it go unchecked and perpetuate their denial.

Self-doubt

Doubting yourself or feeling sorry for yourself is another way to abuse your power. Now you’re taking your power and using it to weaken yourself. That’s like being a god who says, “Let me be powerless.”

You’re a naturally creative being. It makes no sense to turn your creative energies into self-destruction.

If you doubt yourself, it’s not because you’re inherently defective. It’s not because you’re a screw up. It’s because you haven’t yet learned how to use your power to create certainty.

Certainty isn’t something you detect. It’s not something you’ll discover through analysis. Certainty is a feeling that you create for yourself.

Certainty is when you say to the universe, “Here’s what I want. Now let’s make it so.”

Self-doubt is when you say to the universe, “Here’s what I want. Or wait… maybe I want this instead. No… maybe I don’t want either of those things. I guess I’m just not sure.”

If that sounds really dumb, that’s because it is dumb.

Stop being so wishy washy. Stop reciting stupid affirmations like, “I just don’t know what to do.” Who taught you to do that anyway? Someone who was an even more egregious self-doubter?

“I don’t know what to do” is not an observation. It’s an act of creation. Obviously you won’t know what to do if you’re using your power to perpetuate a state of self-doubt. Whenever you proclaim that you don’t know what to do, you’re creating your own state of perpetual uncertainty.

To move beyond self-doubt, start doing the opposite. Use your power to create certainty instead of self-doubt. Begin saying to yourself, “I know what to do. I ABSOLUTELY know what to do.” Say it like you mean it.

Never say, “I don’t know what to do” to yourself or anyone else. It only makes you weak. Plus it’s just dumb.

If you can’t handle, “I know what to do,” then start with, “I’m now gaining clarity about what to do.” Use your power to reorient yourself in the direction of clarity. Never affirm “I don’t know what to do” unless you really want to create a state of perpetual uncertainty.

It’s foolish to act like a victim of your own uncertainty when you’re the one who’s creating it in the first place.

If you want certainty, you must create it. You won’t find it out there in the world. The world is waiting on you. If you abuse your power to create self-doubt, then you’ll be even more confused when you look to the external world for answers. All it will do is reflect back what you’ve created.

Please be warned that if you ever say “I don’t know what to do” in my presence, I will smack you — hard. Trust me — this will help you gain clarity. At the very least, it will encourage you to come up with a better idea than being smacked again. My way’s not very sportsmanlike, but it can be quite effective.

Seriously, the next time you catch yourself saying, thinking, or believing, “I don’t know what to do,” give yourself a good hard smack across the face. This will help you connect that whining about your uncertainty is a form of self-abuse. If you don’t like smacking yourself in the face, then stop using your power to beat yourself down.

Fezzik, jog his memory.

Cowardice

When you use your power to feed your fears instead of your desires, you succumb to cowardice.

Think of it this way — whatever you feed with your energy will expand. If you want your fears to grow and expand in your reality, then by all means keep feeding them. Give them even more of your precious attention. Think about your fears and worries often. Hang out with other people who are also good at worrying. Avoid anyone who faces up to their fears or who’d nudge you to do the same.

Maybe there’s a part of you that knows deep down that courage is an essential quality you must develop sooner or later if you ever wish to live as a mature, conscious human being.

Courage can be defined as the willingness to face your fears. But what happens when you finally face one of your fears? The feeling of fear essentially dissolves because now you’re focused on creating a result other than fear. You may feel a sense of exhilaration and determination as the fear leaves you.

Another way of defining courage is to say that courage is the willingness to empower your desires instead of your fears.

You generate fear when you send energy to what you don’t want — by thinking about it, dwelling on it, imagining it, etc.

You generate courage when you send energy to what you do want, in much the same way. Gradually you feel more and more motivated to take action. The more you use your power to generate a feeling of courage, the closer you are to making your desires real.

Whenever you catch yourself feeding your fears, stop and remind yourself that this is a serious abuse of your power. Then reclaim that energy by imagining yourself drawing it back into you. Finally, use your power correctly by imagining what you really want, and send all that energy into those thoughts, images, and feelings instead.

Spend time hanging out with the bravest people you can find. When you do so, you’ll see that they refuse to feed their fears. They spend much more time feeding their desires. They’ve learned how to use their power to create more drive and passion instead of fear-based hesitation.

Arguing

Arguing with other people is another way to abuse your power. Arguing is trying to make someone else wrong and yourself right at the same time. This is an easy trap to fall into, but it doesn’t serve you.

Making an effort to persuade someone to see things from another perspective is okay. So is spirited debate. In those situations you’re trying to understand the other person’s point of view and to encourage them to understand yours as well. There’s nothing wrong with that at all.

Arguing happens when you take this a step too far, trying to invalidate the other person’s point of view entirely — to make them wrong for seeing reality as they do. This is an abuse of power.

The problem with trying to make someone else wrong is that once again you’re using your power against itself. Your power is creative, not uncreative. When you argue with someone, you’re trying to uncreate their point of view, which can’t be done. You cannot invalidate a perspective.

Instead of arguing, think in terms of acceptance and consequences. First, accept the other person’s point of view as valid for them. Then decide what the consequence of that realization will be. Maybe the consequences are negligible. Maybe it means the best solution is for you to each go your separate ways. Or maybe the best outcome is somewhere in between.

Usually we run into a pattern of arguing when we resist the consequences of acceptance. So we push too hard to force the other person to give in, and that simply doesn’t work. Even if the other person seems to go along, their consent will only be superficial. As the saying goes, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”

When you catch yourself arguing, where you’re trying too hard to make yourself right and the other person wrong, just stop. Drop the disempowering frame of winning vs. losing. Then shift yourself into the frame of acceptance and consequences. Accept the other person’s point of view completely. You may be convinced it’s the wrong way to see things, but it is what it is. Permit that person the freedom to choose their preferred perspective. Next, ask yourself what the consequences of accepting the other person’s point of view will be. And finally, go ahead and implement those consequences if it’s necessary for you to do so.

Sometimes when I catch myself getting into an argument with someone and realize just how pointless it is, I will up and quit right in the middle of the argument. Defending my point of view simply isn’t a good use of my power. Instead of continuing to fuss over who’s right and who’s wrong, I shift over to acceptance and consequences. Even if I think the person is totally out of sync with reality for believing what they do, I accept that it’s their choice to hold that perspective. Then I ask myself, “Based on this acceptance, what do I need to do about this?” Most of the time it just means dropping the argument and letting it go, in which case the other person will have to decide what they want to do about my loss of interest in continuing to argue. A week later I probably won’t even remember it.

Don’t pour your time and energy into arguing. Use your power to create something more positive instead. Again, participating in a healthy debate is fine, but once you recognize that it’s degraded into arguing, it’s time to bow out and move on.

Asking permission

Asking permission is a tricky problem because it can be hard to notice. Many people don’t realize they’re doing it and define such behavior as normal.

When you ask permission to create what you want, you’re projecting your power onto someone else. You’re diminishing your authority as a creative being and thereby weakening yourself.

It’s fine to negotiate with others to help you get what you want. But if you desire to creating something new in your reality, don’t ask permission to want it.

When I was a teenager, sometimes my Mom would question me about my plans as I was about to walk out the door. Of course as a typical rebellious teen, I didn’t feel I needed anyone’s permission to live my life as I saw fit. So when she started questioning me, I would sometimes say, “Just take note of what I’m wearing, so you can identify the body later.” Then I stepped out the door.

Yes, that’s a pretty ornery thing to say to one’s Mom, but it helped me step away from asking permission and to assume more authority (i.e. authorship) over my own life. I realized that just because someone was questioning my behavior didn’t mean I had to justify myself to them. I could simply implement my decisions and accept the consequences of others’ reactions.

It’s amazing how many people yield control of their life’s direction to someone else. When you talk to such people, it’s blatantly obvious that they aren’t in command. They’re still responsible for a starship, but they act like lowly ensigns. Then when the ship crashes, they look for someone to blame.

The sad thing is that many times no one in particular is in command. They just let themselves get bounced around by the currents of social conditioning.

What about going with the flow? That’s fine if you’re a water molecule… not so good if you’re a human being.

Going with the flow only works if you’re the one generating the flow in the first place. Use your energy to set a clear course, and then let your actions flow with your intentions. But don’t use going with the flow as an excuse to be wimpy, powerless, and irresponsible.

Don’t ask permission to live your life. Give yourself full permission to want what you want. Once again think in terms of acceptance and consequences. If someone else has an issue with your decisions, let the issues be theirs to worry about.

When you inform people of new decisions you’ve made, sometimes they’re going to react negatively. Get used to it. Another person’s resistance doesn’t mean that you’ve made a mistake.

I have little choice but to apply the model of acceptance and consequences because doing any less would be totally impractical for me. For example, if I tell people my next article will be about productivity, some people will say, “Yay — I’ve been hoping you’d write more about that.” And other people will exclaim, “No, dammit! Go back to writing about polarity.” It doesn’t matter what the topic is. Some people will embrace it; others will resist it.

If you can see the folly in trying to seek permission from a large and diverse audience where it’s impossible to get everyone to agree on the simplest things, can you also see the folly in seeking permission from people on an individual basis?

Do you fall into the trap of asking your spouse or significant other for permission on how YOU should live your life? Even if you’re in a relationship or have a family, don’t you think you should be free to decide what you’re going to eat, what career path you’ll pursue, and what types of people you’ll hang out with?

Let the other person think in terms of acceptance and consequences as well. If they don’t like what you’re into, they’re always free to dump you and move on. By all means make such decisions carefully and with a reasonable grasp of what the consequences may be. But at the end of the day, you must make your choices and allow other to make theirs. Don’t submit your choices for approval by someone else. You’ll end up with a rather disappointing life if you do so.

Asking permission is really just a cop-out anyway. It’s nothing but an excuse to hold back.

Suppose you tell me that you really want to quit your unfulfilling job and start your own business, but your wife won’t let you. What am I supposed to say to that?

“Oh, well… that’s totally understandable then. If your wife won’t let you… hmmm, that’s rough… what can you do? I guess you’ll have to learn to like your job. I’m sure she’s worth it.”

Yeah, right.

I’d probably say instead, “Whoa… did you just feel that? That wave of vibrational energy? What would you call that? Sheer cowardice perhaps? What’s this nonsense about asking your wife for permission? What’re you 12 years old or something? Just tell her you’ve decided to start your own business and then go do it. If she goes kittywompus over it, let her. Inform her that you’re moving forward with your plan and that you’d appreciate her support, but that if she can’t handle it, she’s free to dump you and go be with someone she can control instead.”

Your wife (or husband or significant other) isn’t the problem. The problem is you. You’re bringing out their resistance because they can sense your weakness, your lack of resolve. And because they can see that you’re weak, they don’t trust you. They’re right not to trust you. I wouldn’t trust you either.

When you give off the hint that you’re asking permission, people will jump on it. They’ll give you plenty of reasons why you can’t get what you want. If you start seeking their permission, you’re giving away your power.

Use your power to feed your desires and decisions, not the objections raised by others.

It’s not a bad thing to ask for feedback from people, but do that to strengthen your own decisions, not to seek approval.

I often post about my decisions on my blog because I want people to try to poke holes in them. I want people to test me and challenge me. I’m not asking their permission because my decision is already made, and I’m simply informing them of it. But I still want them to take their best shots to see if they can say something that might derail me from my course. This helps me refine my decisions, and it also strengthens my power. It’s similar to doing resistance training at the gym to boost the definition and strength of your muscles.

Blaming

Blaming other people, events, or circumstances for your lot in life is pointless. By denying responsibility for the life you’re creating, you only use your power to weaken yourself.

As the saying goes, “With great power comes great responsibility.” So what happens if you turn off the responsibility? Off goes the power switch as well. You wind up helpless.

You can’t wield power over your reality and deny responsibility for your creations at the same time. You must be both powerful and responsible — or neither.

Don’t blame. Practice acceptance and forgiveness instead. Accept what you have to deal with, and focus on channeling your energies in a creative way.

You are always creating. You cannot help it. Your nature is to be a creative being. By choosing different thoughts and actions, you could create a very different life for yourself in a matter of days. That option is always available to you. No one is stopping you or holding you back. You can only hold yourself back.

Realize that whatever life you’re living, you are creating it — right now in this moment. If you don’t like what you’re experiencing, then resolve to create something else. Begin to create that new reality immediately. Realize that no one is coming to rescue you. It’s entirely up to you to make your life what you want it to be.

I had to learn this lesson while sitting in jail when I was 19. I could have found plenty of people to blame for putting me there. But instead I chose to take responsibility for what I created. I finally saw the foolishness of it all. I realized that everything that happened up to that point was the result of what I was doing to myself. In that moment I decided to create a very different life for myself. Was it easy? Heck no. But at least it got me using my power to create what I wanted instead of blindly following a path I didn’t really want.

Are you now finding yourself in some sort of jail cell that you’re still denying? Is it a dead-end job? A bad relationship situation? An unhealthy lifestyle? A lack of purpose and inspiration? A lack of joy in your life? Whatever it is that you don’t like about your life, that’s the jail cell you’ve created for yourself as a result of denying your power. When will you be ready to reclaim your power to make your life the way you truly want it to be? Life is waiting on your answer, always listening, always hoping.

As a creative being, you’re going to have some screw-ups. Forgive yourself completely. Accept your mistakes and learn from them. This is a lot more intelligent than resisting or denying them.

Creativity is not perfection. If you were perfect, there’d be no need to create or experience anything. Your creative power gives you the opportunity to grow and change. Take advantage of it!

Own your power!

This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are still more ways to abuse your power. These just happen to be some of the most common.

Stop giving away your power — to other people, to your fears, to anything you don’t want. Use your power positively and creatively. Channel the tremendous energy inside of you to manifest your desires.

It can be difficult to catch yourself abusing your power, especially when the negative behaviors are habitual. One thing you can do is use the highly effective 30-day trial method. Take on one bad “abuse of power” habit, and commit to using your power only positively in that area for 30 days straight. Simply do the opposite of what you’ve been doing. If you screw up, start again at day 1 until you make it the full 30 days.

Don’t whine. Don’t weaken yourself. Don’t wimp out. Don’t argue. Don’t ask permission. And don’t blame. Decide what you want to create and then pour your heart and soul into creating it. Get in touch with that powerful creative being inside you, and let it shine!

Otherwise, start smacking away until you get it.



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