By Leo Babauta
Almost every one of us gives away our power, unthinkingly.
- Someone does something inconsiderate or infuriating that frustrates or angers you. You fume about it for hours. You’ve given this person the power to make you frustrated and angry, to ruin your day, often without them even realizing it.
- You are lonely because you are alone, no longer with the partner who broke up with you. You have given away your power to feel loved to someone else, who perhaps doesn’t want to give you that love.
- You walk into a social gathering and hope to impress people, to gain their approval, to be liked. You’ve given away your power of being approved to others, who don’t even know they have a responsibility to validate you.
- You are still angry at your parents (or one of your parents) for the crappy way they raised you, or for certain things they did that screwed you up. You’ve given away your power to shape your own life, to people who haven’t been responsible for raising you for years, since you became an adult.
In all of these cases, and many more examples throughout our day, we’ve given away the power to be happy, to be content, to be joyful, to other people, who haven’t even asked for that power or realize you’ve handed it to them.
But actually, the power over these states of mind â€” approval, love, anger, joy â€” resides completely inside of us.
This is the hidden source of power that we don’t tap into.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re pining over a lover who has rejected you, and wishing you had those incredible moments back, where they made you feel happy, loved. But actually, the source of that love was inside of you, not outside of you. When you were with your ex-lover, they were there in the room with you, but the source of feeling loved was in your own mind, in your own heart. You made yourself feel that way, by how you perceived the situation.
That means that you have the power to make yourself feel loved. At any time. It’s always available to you. It depends on no one else.
You have the power to make yourself feel angry, or at peace. To feel hurt, or joyful. To feel connected, or disconnected. To feel accepted, or rejected.
That’s not to say that other people don’t do crappy things. But those crappy things don’t have to make us feel horrible â€” we can let them slide off of us, and decide how we want to feel. Sure, that’s easier said than done, but it’s still a power that resides within us.
That’s also not to say we don’t need anyone else. Or that we’re an island, standing completely on our own. In my view, we are more interconnected than we realize. Choosing to see ourselves as already interconnected, always connected to the hearts of others, is actually a way to tap into our inner power. Turning towards others and seeing their pain and love, not just our own, is a fantastic way to tap into the power to make ourselves feel purposeful, to feel loved.
But make no mistake: the power is inside of us, nowhere else.
We can make ourselves feel loved, by loving ourselves and others.
We can make ourselves feel liked and approved of, by seeing ourselves and finding the miracle in what we see, finding contentment in who we are, just as we are.
We can make ourselves feel peace, by letting go of slights and judgments of others, and finding contentment in how things are, loving things as they are.
We can give ourselves joy, by realizing our interconnectedness with others, by caring about others, by appreciating the heartbreaking beauty of this moment, just as it is.