It struck me as odd. I knew a married couple for years when one day, the man left his wife. The woman said to me, “My life is ruined now.”
She had given him the power to make or break her.
So often in life, we give others power over us.
A spouse is given the power to make us happy or unhappy. Our boss is given the power to plunge us into poverty. A friend can have the power to make us feel good about ourselves, or not. Even our social media contacts, if they choose not to engage with us or “like” our posts, can make us feel as though we’re irrelevant.
I’ve lived almost two generations on this planet now, and it was only until recently that I realized just how much power I was giving others.
A friend I hold dearly could crush my confidence if they did not return a phone call.
Even perceived slights would take me off my game for days.
Why do we do it? Why do we give so much responsibility for our own sense of worth to the often unreliable, fickle and sometimes insincere opinions and behaviors of others?
Why do we put so much stock in the views of others, but very little, if any, in ourselves?
There is a movie playing now on Netflix called “Eddie the Eagle” about an ordinary man who desperately wanted to do ski jumping in the Olympics. The true story of Michael “Eddie” Edwards in the 1988 Calgary Olympics has a powerful message. Every single person was against him. He was no athlete. Despite strong advice to quit, Eddie kept going anyway – believing in his own power.
There are countless examples in history of where people ignored the advice of others and chose instead to place the power within themselves.
Walt Disney was told to take his silly little drawings home and give up on cartooning because, according to a newspaper editor, he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” If Disney had given that editor limitless power, the Disney empire today would not exist.
Elvis Presley, following a performance at a concert hall, was told by the manager, “Go back to driving trucks. You’ll never make it in the music business.”
Lady Gaga was bullied as a young woman and made to feel inferior.
Whenever we see people in the news who have accomplished something, they often say, “If you believe in yourself, you can do anything.”
Many of us dismiss that as a cliché.
But it’s true.
The power of self-belief may well be the strongest force of the human spirit.
As we are about to embark on a New Year, pause to think about your power.
Feel it. Know it.
Then, make a commitment to take it back.