I’ve been thinking about how much power our elected officials have and how that varies by country. In the US, we grant power to the people we elect. And, we take back our power when we think they’ve gone “too far.”
I live in Massachusetts, where we’ve had quite the outbreak of COVID-19. Our governor and towns have urged us to control our actions so we don’t infect anyone else.
For me, that’s the key. We can exercise our power to control our actions. If we exercise this power for the common good, we might all benefit. If we don’t focus on the common good, we might create the Tragedy of the Commons. (That was the point of flattening the curve. Ventilators and hospital beds are part of the “common” resources. If we all got sick at the same time, we would have different big problems than the problems we now have.)
We exercise our power in these ways:
- Emotional power: How we choose to react to other people. (I admit, sometimes, I’m not always aware of my conscious decisions!)
- Intellectual power: The information we ingest. (I read conservative and liberal media. I also search for verifiable data.)
- Actions that reflect our feelings and thoughts: The actions we choose. (When do we choose remote over in-person? When do we wear masks? Do we follow our elected officials’ guidance? And, longer-term, who do we vote for?)
We have as much power as we choose to exercise.
Our Emotional Power
This picture is my representation of the Satir Congruence Model. When we are congruent, we balance the needs of the self, the other, and the context. (See Can You “Just” Anything? for more specifics about congruence.)
This crisis tests everyone’s congruence. I find it fascinating that people talk about “work from home.” It’s not just work we do at home. It’s school, play, cooking, everything. (Mark and I mentioned the other day that we were thrilled our children were no longer home.)
We also have intellectual power.
Our Intellectual Power
I read widely. I review data about everything. That’s why, way back in the 00s when I was obese, I started to low-carb. Some people can gain health on low-fat diets. I was not one of those people. Some of us do quite well on low-carb diets. I am one of those.
I don’t read on social media. I read public research articles. I experimented and found the eating plan that works for me.
And we exercise our power with our actions.
Our Action Power
When we act, we create our own power. I write a lot, hoping to persuade people to rethink their actions. Right now, I wear a mask—for the common good and for me. And, I vote. Every time. In every election. I do have to abide by the majority, but I make my voice heard.
We have significant power. In several modalities. Every emotional reaction, everything we choose to read and take as truth, and how we act—that’s how we use our power.
Dear adaptable problem solvers, that’s the question this week: How do you exercise your power?