Don’t give your power away

An old friend who passed away far too early was a high school counselor. She would counsel kids who were in stress over real or perceived slights with the following two tandem pieces of advice:

– Do not give your power away. Things happen. You are the only person who can control how you respond.

– If you choose not to take offense, you are not offended.

Putting these two together let’s you control your reaction. People try to get your goat. People try to lure you into a fight. Some folks are even malevolent about this process. These folks take delight in watching you blow up.

Being able to laugh it off or make a jocular reference to a piece of teasing or taunting is an art form. Self-deprecating or deflecting humor is a good tactic. If you are uncomfortable about using humor, changing the subject, walking away and not responding are also good strategies. If it is your blog, you can simply saying “Thank you for sharing your opinion.” And, move on.

This can be difficult, but if you let your pride or temper get the best of you, then you have ceded your power. I must confess I have ceded my power more times than I care to admit. Invariably, self-reflection will occur as to why I bit the bait.

These are simple words. If you don’t take offense, you are not offended. I am not saying to forget the slight, but you need not give the author your power. People can vote with their feet. If someone relishes in doing this, minimize or eliminate contact with that person.

Finally, I am not saying people should not push back. My advice is pick your battles. Don’t argue with a street preacher is a good analogy. And, push back the way you want to receive it. Civility and frankness are not mutually exclusive.

19 thoughts on “Don’t give your power away

  1. Yes, we should not avoid to stand up for ourselves but we don’t need to feel concerned about everything which has more to do with our encounter than with ourselves. Many cannot handle their own sh** and try to put it on others. We always have a choice whether we accept the gift or not.

    • Erika, well said. I was just sharing with another blogger that I chose not to respond to one of her commenters as I did not want to get into a multi-paragraph debate. That would not be a good use of my time and energy.

      Your next to last sentence speaks volumes. I had a colleague who had a great line to avoid being drawn into an argument between two people. He would say “That is between you and him (her).” Keith

      • Yes, absolutely! It needs quite some awareness to not simply react and throw yourself into a situation where you actually don’t belong to. The best way is to whatever comes towards us that we first pause and think if this really belongs to us.
        There was an incident which still makes me laugh. I was lined up at a gaz station waiting for the car in front of me leaving. Once they did another car drove right into that spot while I was heading there too. I was a little puzzled since I was waiting in line for a while. But the two ladies in that other car were gesticulating and they seemed to shout and boil from anger. My mom, who was sitting next to me began to react in the same way. I was looking at that situation and all of a sudden broke out in laughter. It was so ridiculous. And I thought, no, I am not pushing myself down to a level where a spot at a gaz station becomes the most important goal of the day. I was thinking of Wayne Dyer’s quote: “If you have the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.” Perhaps it wasn’t kind to laugh, but I could not help it…. lol! I felt good while the others had this angry look whenever I noticed them watching me. That made me chuckle again…

      • Erika, good story. The ability to laugh is medicating. People get bent out of shape for little reason. Stopping this process reduces stress. Keith

  2. Note to Readers: I feel I may need to explain my reference to “never argue with a street preacher.” Anyone zealous enough to stand on a corner and yell for hours is not someone to engage in dialogue. The dilemma with online social media is you don’t know who the street preachers (zealots) are until it is too late. I have said under my breath on more than one occasion, “What do we have here?”

      • Roger, wise woman, your bride. My wife caught me talking to myself while skimming leaves out of the pool. She laughed. I told her it helps with my sanity.

        I have thought about backing away, saying I tried to warn you, but with hyper-rationalization of a crooked behavior, feel I must stay involved. I may be chasing windmills, but chose to pick this battle. As for the UK, it deserves a better leader than Jeremy and certainly moreso than Boris. Keith

      • Heck, I talk to myself all the time! It’s good therapy, and some of my best ideas come from the conversations between Me, Myself, and I.

        No, Keith, you and I can’t leave the conversation … we’re in it for the long haul.

      • Jill, I am glad I am not alone. In my fictitious conversations, the truth gets across more to those who could care less. Keith

  3. Very sage advice, my friend. I’m getting better at it, but I’m still likely to “put up my dukes” when pushed. Sigh. You’d think experience would have taught me that it is often pointless, wouldn’t you?

  4. Sorry for the loss of your friend, I was recently at a funeral of a friend age 60 and it seemed way to young. Great advice, although not always easy to remember when those moments come unexpectedly. I think Im doing better as I get older.

    • Alison, many thanks and sorry you lost a friend too young. Another blogger, Erika, and I were lamenting how young Marie Frederidksson of Roxette was when she died yesterday at 61.

      As we age, I think we learn not to suffer fools so much (as often) and disengage somehow. Ceding power to someone is a fool’s errand we should avoid. Keith

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