Recently, I read a blog post written by my friend, Peggy Nolan, about our use of the word “enough,” as in asking ourselves if we are “good enough” or “talented enough” or “capable enough” or pretty enough” or valuable enough” or sexy enough.”
You know, all the things we ask ourselves that create feelings of being less-than.
In the post, she asks the question, “What measurement are you weighing yourself by?” and points out enough is a word that engages our self-doubt.
It reminded me of what I heard Miranda Lambert say at a concert I attended with my daughters in August 2014 in Bangor, Maine. She was talking to the women in the audience and telling them to go for their dreams, saying if a “little girl from Texas” like her could do it, anyone could do it, and she said if you think you’re not good enough or talented enough or “God forbid, not skinny enough” to go for your dream anyway because you are selling yourself short.
I’ve shared “you are good enough” memes on Facebook, etc. simply because I’m an advocate of loving, trusting, and believing in yourself and working hard to defeat your personal brand of not-good-enough thinking…and because I’m a recovering perfectionist so from that vantage point allowing myself and what I do to be simply “good enough” instead of perfect has been a weight lifted…
and when I read Peggy’s post it hit me like a ton of bricks because the word enough is so limiting, vague, and uncertain, always leaving room for anxiety. It’s as insidious as perfectionism, which is really only the extreme outpost of striving for good enough–and never reaching it. Trying to be good enough is just as anxiety-provoking as trying to be perfect.
Words have the power to harm or to heal, so all this got me thinking about using the words power and empower–as in Take Back Your Power to Heal. They’re words I use a lot, and they’re words I encourage all women to embrace.
But what does power mean–and does it harm or heal?
According to the dictionary power is: 1) possession of control, authority, or influence over others; 2) ability to act or produce an effect. The synonyms for definition #2 include ability, capability, potential, and competence.
Likewise, the definition of empower is: 1) give (someone) the authority or power to do something: 2) make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights. The synonyms for the second definition include unshackle, liberate, and set free.
We live in a society that is focused on achieving power–power of the first kind, possession of control, authority and influence over others–and that kind of power gets used abusively. It’s power that harms.
But what about the second kind? The kind that liberates, sets free, focuses on potential, capability, and competence? The kind that makes someone stronger and more confident and gives them the ability to act and produce the effect they need to control their own life and claim their rights?
That’s the healing kind. The difference is in the focus: extrinsic or intrinsic.
My father (not to be confused with my Daddy–long story) wielded the harmful kind of power. He used fear, intimidation, bullying, sarcasm, belittling, name-calling, and physical violence to exert control over his family, and then put on his power suit and drove off in his power car to do his work as an arbitrator, where he held the power between two parties at the negotiation table.
My Daddy, on the other hand, held quiet authority over his own life, going about his labors at work and at home without artifice. He wasn’t challenged by either my mother’s anxiety or my stepmother’s strong-mindedness.
My father kept my mother “in her place”–and in his view, my stepmother was a Bitch (yes, capital B), and someone he would never tolerate. My Daddy kept his own counsel while Mama went about her business.
As for Mama, she was anxious all the way around. Her own father was even more violent than mine and she carried the scars all the way to the grave. Daddy’s placid disposition (read: disconnection) made her anxious and my father’s aggressive disposition increased the anxiety tenfold.
I grew up on pins and needles…and, of course, with loads of my own anxiety.
Anxiety, which is fear-driven, keeps us in a perpetual state of wondering if we are good enough. And when we’ve been on the receiving end of the abusive use of power (who hasn’t to some degree in our society?) we fear empowering ourselves.
Part of anxiety behavior is always seeking to please others and meet the standards of others (that measuring stick that Peggy mentioned), and that is the exact opposite of empowerment. Owning your power means your measure is internal, based on your capability, potential, confidence, and strength, living your own life freely in your unique way.
It’s a radical shift of perspective to go from always looking outward to validate your way of living to learning to look inward for guidance.
Learning to look internally for guidance–and trusting that guidance–is taking back your power to heal. The intentional use of power to control another is abusive and causes harm; the intentional use of power to guide yourself, strengthen yourself, build on your potential, increase your confidence, and acknowledge your capability and competence is healing.
It’s loving and caring for yourself well.
Miranda’s message was one of empowerment, and yet it used that word: Enough. I’ve realized while thinking about these things that all of our anxieties are contained with that word. And I’ve also realized that those of us on the anxiety side of the coin are afraid of power because power has harmed us along the way.
So here is the conundrum: In order to move past our anxiety and stop the constant struggle to be good enough we have to stand and face our anxiety by firmly taking hold of our own power.
And then we need to learn to use that power to treat ourselves well…and in treating ourselves well we begin to heal because we finally get our eyes of everything else and start to see ourselves as we really are.
And we discover we are wonderful and amazing and beautiful and intelligent and creative and loving and kind and generous and caring and unique and purpose-filled and special and honorable and worthy.
Power isn’t a club to be wielded to control others (or to beat yourself up); it’s creative energy to help you develop your own personal fullest potential. Owning your power to heal goes a long way toward conquering your anxiety as you begin to see your unique path.
As Peggy said, “I’ve had enough of enough” and I’ve had enough of the anxiety it contains. I’ve stepped out of fear and into power: power of the healing kind.
Are you ready to own your power to heal? Have you stepped past fear, anxiety, and enough-thinking already? Who do you know that owns their healing power?
I’m growing the Indomitable Women community for exactly this reason: empowering all women to take back their power to heal, helping all of us move past our fear, anxiety, pain, grief and trauma to collective wellness by reclaiming the support of female tribe and shared feminine wisdom.
What step can you take today to own your power to heal? What are your thoughts about power? How have you been on the receiving end of the abuse of power–and how does it contribute to your anxiety?
Part of our collective healing is sharing our stories to support and strengthen each other and I’m committed to sharing mine to give voice to the conversation. I’d love to hear from you in the comments below to keep the conversation going!
Love & Blessings,
P.S. One of the ways I teach energy healing and manifesting skills is through my free Radiant Resilience Community – click below to join us and get The Secret to Emotional Resilience 4-part audio mini-course free