I want to turn you on with this article. And the next one and the next one. More precisely, I want YOU to turn on... your power. In your relationship. Because here's my guess: you've only been using part of it. And to be blunt likely using your power in a pretty funky way. Most of us do. We find a "strategy" for using part of our power, and get stuck in a rut around it.
Yes, even conscious, organic-eating, yoga-practicing, progressive rockstars like you and me. It's just human...but it makes our relationships vulnerable in the long run, and less luscious, every day.
So I'm going to whisper in your ear to name and call forward (maybe even arouse!) the different aspects of your power that might've been hiding (or just not stepping up to the mic as often as their more boisterous counterparts). Some of the Elements of Power (more about those in a minute) that come forward may have been rockin' out your career, but not hittin' the dance floor at home. And there'll be some reeling in... the prima-donna Elements that may have been dominating will get to sit out a song or two and let someone else take a spin.
Power is at the root of all our relationship's funk.
And all its fire.
What do I mean when I say power? For our purposes here, power is capacity. It's human ability to experience and create. I'm not talking about might or force. I'm not talking about control or coercion. Think yin. Yang. Ki. Chi. Prana. Consciousness. All different flavors of ju-ju.
Power is not a synonym for force or control.
It's an active creative force. We're talking about it here 'cause speaking this language can totally juice up your love relationship. And re-jig the parts that may have started to chafe or bind or smell like your Aunt Dora's basement.
The 12 Elements of Power
In 2005, my business partner and I identified 12 components of our power. They are capacities innate to every human being and every human organization – companies, teams, families, communities, political systems. How each person or organization is expressing their power in each moment determines the experience they and others have of them and the kind of results they get.
It felt like a political act to re-claim the word POWER because our western cultural thoughts about power have - like so many other concepts - been co-opted by a force-oriented minority. Force is about having power over. Power is the power to... To create, to heal, to grow, to contain, to enjoy. As Carole King sings, "We gotta take our power back, and use it in ways that make sense."
Modern Love is a Power...Trip
I was born in 1973 to a 19 year-old self-proclaimed feminist. Whether you're my mom's age, mine, or younger, you've been part of a pretty trippy redefinition of gender roles, work roles, and individual power in our culture before and/or during your lifetime. It's confusing as hell, mostly in the arena of love relationships. All the self-definition and making-it-happen we do at work and in our creative and spiritual lives can make it tough to turn around and collaborate on love in a way that works smoothly - or sustainably. By talking about power in this way, we can give ourselves a decoder ring that lets us understand where the rough patches are and how to navigate together with juice and joy... even if a smooth road may never be attainable (or even desirable).
Power is masculine and feminine. That's not the same as male and female.
The 12 Elements of Power are comprised of six pairs of individual elements.Each pair of Elements of Power has a masculine Element and a feminine Element. Just to nip the argument in the bud: I don't at all mean "men are this way and women are like that."
Quite the opposite: we'll look at how all humans contain all these Elements, and how fluidity in who's expressing what, in any moment, can help keep a relationship supple and smokin.' But yeah, we'll also see, at times, how brain science, anatomy, and cultural conditioning contribute to our (ahem!) power struggles.
All 12 Elements interact, but in particular, each pair is in strong relationship to one another. They can work together when we're conscious and skillful, and when we're not, an Element can throw its counterpart out of whack by virtue of the distorted way we're using it.
Four Ways Power Shows Up
We can exercise any of the 12 Elements, in any interaction or activity, in one of four ways:
1: Underactive, meaning we’re not using that Element, or not using it to the extent warranted by the situation.
2: Active, meaning we’re using that Element.
3: Distorted, meaning we’re using an Element when it's not the right tool for the job, or in a way that has become counterproductive.
4: Integrated, meaning that the Element is not only active, but being skillfully blended with its counterpart in a way that allows a seamless flow and synergy between them.
Given that menu, can you see how learning about the Elements helps you make your love relationship an engaging, challenging, always-new path of spiritual evolution?
For now, I'll leave you with a few questions to play with, on your own or with your partner:
- Where does power get funky in our relationship?
- Where is there a pleasurable polarity in how each of us uses our power?
- What one corner of our relationship would we both like to have be different, though we seem to be rolling along well-worn grooves in that area?
Your answers will help you engage with the conversations in other posts in this series. And by all means, be in conversation with me via the contact link at the bottom of the page.