The Seat of Power

By default, I think most people assume that they have less power than they do, and that other people have more power than they do.

We think that changing our own fates is very difficult, but we sort of unconsciously imagine that other people have the ability to influence our circumstances almost effortlessly. Hence the common refrain that so many things are someone else’s fault!

The vicious trap here is that often in the belief that others hold power over us, we give it to them. Let’s say you and a co-worker both go for the same promotion, and the co-worker is the one that gets it. In reality, this is one tiny factor in the vast timeline of your life. Your career will continue on its trajectory – there will be promotions you get and promotions you don’t, and this was just one of the latter. You haven’t lost your home, your livelihood, your skills, your ability to work. But if you start spinning your wheels thinking about how badly you’ve been wronged by this co-worker, and how everything is their fault, and how if only they’d never existed your life would be fantastic – then you’re giving them power.

That co-worker probably isn’t thinking about you at all. They’re expending zero effort on you. And yet here you are, stressed and upset and distracted and far below your best self! All because you invested power into the specter of them in your mind.

Don’t do that. Don’t give away your power – recognize it for what it is. Your brain is incredibly strong when fighting on home turf; i.e. thinking about your own life. When you focus too much on the lives of others, you give that power away.

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