Many women I work with are afraid of their own power. They “play small” and limit themselves in order to satisfy other people; they’re afraid of being too much, or too powerful for the people around them. When we do this, we make our power about the other person—as opposed to about ourselves.
The truth is that we all have power. We all have an impact. We all matter, and our very existence changes the world around us. How we choose to express our power, and how fully we are willing to acknowledge it, is a matter of practice and preference – but pretending we are not powerful does nothing to change the truth that we are powerful.
1. We fear having a negative impact.
“It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.” I love this quote by Marianne Williamson, and while I agree with the message, I think it’s incomplete. What I’ve found is that many people often fear stepping into their power because they assume it will lead to negative consequences. There’s this tendency to put it out into external circumstances—or other people. While they may not explicitly blame other people, it’s subtly baked in. They’ll say things like “if I wasn’t too much for them, I wouldn’t have to dim my light.”
2. We don’t want the responsibility.
I think we are actually afraid of our own power because we are afraid of its impact on other people and we don’t want that responsibility. Or, maybe we do want it but we’re not sure if it’s ok that we want it. What if we can’t trust ourselves with that impact? Often when people imagine having a big impact, they also consider the attack that might follow. That’s a valid fear, but what if we don’t have the impact that we want to have? We don’t want to play small, but we also don’t want to be overly powerful. When we deny we have power, we deny our power’s impact as we move throughout the world and this has us wielding our power in an unconscious and unhelpful way. We have to be open to the possibility that we can mess up and actually hurt somebody with the magnitude of our impact.
3. We don’t trust ourselves.
While people often say they’re afraid of being too much for others, when I actually dive in, what I usually find is that they are afraid they’re too much for themselves. Often this results in habits of dissipating energy—in order to not have to be with the magnitude of their own energy. My question is often: Have you taken the time to be with the magnitude of your own power? Can you sit with your own intensity?
The energetic expression of our magnitude is often a very polarizing experience—it’s either letting it all loose or tamping it all down. When we live in that dichotomy, we’ll ping pong between the two and end up resenting both.
To remedy this, one of the practices I give to clients is the practice of drawing their own energy. Most people haven’t played with drawing their own power without diluting or squashing it. What most people find is that when they hit a certain point, they can’t handle it—which is exactly what we’re externalizing when we say that other people can’t handle us. When we have not expanded our capacity to be with ourselves, it leaves us incomplete. With practice, we’ll know when to be a raging wildfire, when to douse the fire, and how to hold the fire without being either dousing it or letting it loose destructively. Condensing our energy is not a dilution, nor is it spilling over onto others. I’ll be teaching this practice in my Pleasure Purpose Power program that’s launching in July.
4. We’d rather be victim than perpetrator.
Another reason why women are often afraid of their power is that they’ve seen so many situations where power has been wielded in harmful ways. While this is true, it is also incomplete. Today, we have very few models of people who exercise their power for good. Because we haven’t seen it is one of the reasons we’re so afraid of our own power. Many people will feel as if their power is perceived badly—even if they truly believe they’re using it for good. As a result, most of us would rather be the victim than the perpetrator. Of course, we’d all rather be the savior. But, if we’re somehow between being the victim or the perpetrator, we’ll choose the victim every time—because we’d rather someone else be the jerk. The closer we look, the more we’ll see that the perpetrator is actually a more painful place.
If there’s an essential first step to fully embodying our power—it’s honesty with ourselves. We must walk through the world with an understanding that our impact doesn’t just affect ourselves—it affects everyone around us.
It’s imperative that we learn to bring our subconscious mind to the front—and be willing to see those parts of ourselves that we’re unfamiliar with.
To explore this idea more in depth, watch my video here.