This article was originally published in Mantra Wellness Magazine’s Summer 2018 Issue
“It is being honest about my pain that makes me invincible.” – Nayyirah Waheed
Every time I hear the words, “Step into Your Power,” my eyes roll so far back into my head that I practically choke on my eyelashes. Not because I don’t believe in individual power, but because I find the phrase to be over-used, misguiding, and empty.
“Stepping into Your Power” is designed to promote empowerment, activate a fire within your soul, and create a human foundation that cannot be broken apart. Though the intention behind it may be pure and good, I’m not sure anyone really knows what these words mean and how they are supposed to actually step into their own power. It’s become one of those blanket phrases that “spiritual people” say, without providing any direction/work for the listener.
“Stepping into Your Power” suggests that we have to move our feet and take a step into something else, as if somehow our power is not exactly where we are and who we are. As if it’s over there, behind the corner to the right, and eighteen inches to the left. Pull your earlobe three times and you’ll get it.
The truth is it’s not over there, or anywhere. It’s here. Right now. In you.
However, the truth is also that “stepping into your power” requires us to do some (a lot of) work to find it. Instead of posing on the podium and pretending to be a force-to be reckoned with, have a seat. Sit. Down. Close your eyes. Sit like this for as long as you can. Most of us will last for three minutes. The mind/body is programmed to protect, cope, and escape. Be grateful for those skills because they have helped you survive up to this point. But now, acknowledge that you have some reprogramming to do.
Sit down. Again. Close your eyes. After a while, you ever-so-slightly relax and begin to ever-so-slightly surrender. And this is where your power comes from. You need to sit in your past and present pain, your suffering, and your strength. You don’t take a single step. You stay. And you breathe. You watch all of the stories play out in your head: She did this; he said that; why did this happen to me; I should have done this; I ought to be that; and on and on and on.
You stay. After a while, even bigger things will come up like people, places and things you haven’t thought about in years.
Everything that bubbles up to the surface means something. And those thoughts stay with you because once you see something, you can’t un-see it. You acknowledge the thoughts and the feelings that are attached to them. As much as you want to push them away or shove them into a box marked, “never open again,” you stay. You sit. You breathe. You keep the box open. Bringing the thoughts and feelings to the surface allows you to be honest about your past and your present. It lets you see very clearly who you are, what has happened to you, what you have done, and how you feel about all of it.
It’s exhausting, I know. But stay with it because you’re working towards your power. Your voice, your authenticity, your confidence, your light and your strength are all waiting for you underneath the peace umbrella. Your peace is your power.
You work through your past and present pain. You practice self-love by going to therapy, taking walks outside, talking to your loved ones, having group discussions, and journaling. It’s hard. It’s not something you can apply a simple buzz-phrase to, post a meme about, or snap a cute selfie of to get dozens of likes. It’s not pretty. But once you have confronted what has been covering up your true self, you may find that you reach a place of acceptance and forgiveness. And with acceptance is peace. And once you have peace, you feel physically and emotionally lighter and then, you begin to understand your power.
Like most things in life, sitting to uncover your power is easier said than done. My friend Erin says, “Honestly, finding the brighter side of my life has been a disgusting journey through my own sh*t.”
Summoning the courage to “sit down” requires vulnerability, which some people don’t equate with strength. Being vulnerable is scary because it means we have to acknowledge what is. Vulnerability allows us to admit our mistakes, our shame, our insecurities. When we’re vulnerable, we can clearly see our talents, our desires, and our feelings. Vulnerability unveils our many innate gifts.
All this work is scary alone, but holding your hand alongside Vulnerability is also Grace. Grace is unconditional love and she is given to us at birth from a Higher Power. Grace shows up to wrap us in a warm blanket and to help us through our pain. She doesn’t shelter us, but she holds the blanket close around our shoulders. She reminds us that we were doing the best we can then, and we are doing the best we can now. She’s the one who steers us towards acceptance. And then she nudges us to uncover our gifts. Grace points down to our feet to show us we’ve been wearing Dorothy’s red slippers the whole time. She allows us to realize we didn’t need to step away from ourselves, but that we are already equipped to bring ourselves home to ourselves and to offer this world the gifts that we have been given. Grace may even lead us to understanding the entire purpose(s) of our existence.
And that is powerful.
I’ve been talking with a lot of friends and acquaintances about this power thing for a while. After hours of discussion, my friend Gretchen captured this process best: “Stepping into your power actually takes a major life overhaul. It’s a full time soul searching job that takes vulnerability, admitting failure, reevaluating all of your friendships and relationships and weeding out the empty ones. It’s admitting that your choices have shaped your reality, including the things you hate about it. It’s recognizing what you have been doing isn’t working. It’s breaking bad habits, changing thought patterns, getting more sleep, eating the right foods, re-parenting yourself, and giving yourself what you lack. It’s learning what loving yourself actually means. It’s recognizing your exes weren’t bad people, that you just weren’t in sync at that time in history or maybe ever. It’s digging through your shame, getting comfortable with feeling pride in what you are good at, naming your desires, and a hundred million other things that have to happen and continue to happen. It’s a path. And it’s 100% internal.”
Uncovering your power takes time. Instead of a stepping into power, we’ve got to think of it more as taking a seat at a table with Vulnerability and Grace, and then, proceeding through the difficult process of peeling back the layers obscuring your power.
Once you’ve found your power, your existence will be softer and more purposeful. That power is yours to take with you in every move you make because it is you. It’s then that you find you’re able to speak up for yourself, help people in need, pay it forward, give back, write, dance, draw, run, every-action-word-that-applies-to-you. Don’t doubt it: your foundation is strong and your soul is well. You have peace, purpose and power. You are quite simply you.
And if you ever feel like you’re losing your power, sit back down with vulnerability and Grace. Your peace is waiting for you again, and again, and again.