How Do You Exercise Your Power?

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?

3 thoughts on “How Do You Exercise Your Power?

  1. Marsha

    Johanna, while I am in complete agreement with you about the value of “public research articles,” and control over our own intellectual power, I’m not sure why you wouldn’t want to read anything that comes via social media channels. Yes, there are some fairly half-baked (and some not even that far along) ideas and opinions being put forth. You’d have to be less sentient than a potato to not realize this. However, even with the signal to noise ratio as low as it is (my guess is roughly 1/50), if I don’t at least scan what comes from trusted sources (universities, philosophers, scientists, psychologists, physicians, a few reliable friends, and so on), I run the risk of keep myself in darkness, which in my experience invariably results directly in a lack of necessary information for making decisions, AND a concomitant lack of agility in being able to prevent negative outcomes from being ignorant or missing pieces of the puzzle.

    It’s worth it for me to set some triggers when I am dealing with social media (it’s not a “parts is parts” kind of assessment) — I routinely scan everything, and if I begin detecting trending (things moving into view or out of view more than I might normally expect), I look at what’s driving the trends.

    Zeitgeist may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’ve navigated the world a long time now being able to understand and use it.

    Your mileage may vary.

    1. Johanna Post author

      My friends and colleagues on social media are not less sentient than a potato (hehehe). However, their experience is not our experience, and disreputable people can lull them into complacency with data manipulation and outright lies.

      Our experiences locally do not translate nationally. Because our experiences are so different means that some people fall prey to the lies and lack of data others present as real.

      You have navigated the variety of sources for many years, as have I. And, too many other people do not ask, “Hmm, how does this square with the data?” That concerns me.

  2. Pingback: Five Blogs – 3 June 2020 – 5blogs

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