Powerful? Then you can’t be sensitive.
This is the message we receive from the time we are young.
Of course it is based on an idea about strength and power.
So perhaps we need to reexamine these ideas and see if they make any sense.
What Is Power?
According to Merriam Webster dictionary, power comes basically in two forms: personal and institutional:
- power is the ability to get something done or create an effect of some sort. It is a skill.
- power can also be assigned as in institutional power. This power is the ability to control. It is the province of rules, roles and laws. Often institutional power is maintained by the prevailing group consciousness in any society which essentially gives it the permission to make the rules and laws that govern everyday life.
These definitions ring true. Power is either acquired through working at developing a skill or through assignment.
Both of these definitions equate power with action:
- the action of an individual in learning how to do something, and
- the power of institutions to act to limit the actions of others.
They also have a flaw.
The Flaw In The Definition Of Power
The common definition of powerful is highly affiliated with masculine norms that have defined culturally accepted behavior and they are action oriented ideas about being powerful.
For so long masculine and feminine have been defined as opposites, so the feminine and feminine characteristics have been designated as less attractive and less powerful.
The feminine has been traditionally associated with right brained intuition and which means that being highly sensitive is also associated with being feminine.
“Doing” has been placed on a pedestal. Observing, knowing and intuiting are all listening skills which are generally devalued in a cultural systems that demands action oriented behavior.
A Powerful Distortion
It is interesting that we are still beholden to ancient ideas about the sexes. For all of our advances, we are still perpetuating simplistic ideas about men and women. Unfortunately these ideas have consequences and are not up to the challenges of complex modern societies.
Limited ideas about strength limits our ability to find solutions to our problems – and it is showing.
When we misdefine strength and power we also misdefine what it important and necessary.
If action is a strength then contemplation is not.
If logic is a strength then intuition is not.
If brawn is a strength, compassion is not.
One-sided dualities are inherently limiting.
So How Can Sensitives Be Powerful?
In reality it can be very difficult to break through dualistic ideas about identity and power.
Duality, however, doesn’t work. We certainly see plenty of evidence around us of how duality creates as many problems as it solves because it always leaves out key factors.
That is the opportunity for highly sensitive people.
HSP’s are the great noticers of disconnection of all sorts.
Our awareness is our power. Our challenge is to make our awareness available in the world.
Many of us have experience with resistance to change: sometimes it is ours, often the resistance of others. We know from personal experience that when people are not ready for change we cannot move them to do anything. Our ideas will fall by the wayside because it is not our job to get someone to change.
There are, however, some things we can do.
We can introduce ideas that someone might not have thought of.
We can show how a new approach can be successful by talking about innovative successes.
We can show how a positive view of humanity is worth considering because of our own experiences.
We can show how going too fast causes us to miss important factors that eventually lead to unnecessary failure.
We can help others see the benefits of going slowly and carefully.
We do not need to change the world.
We can open the door a crack and let in some fresh ideas. Perhaps someone will consider those ideas today or in the future.
All we have done is introduce some new possibilities.
That is powerful.
And it is powerful enough.