Want More Freedom and Love in Your Life?

Published on May 29, 2018 by in power


Then you need integral power.

Most people I have ever met have been interested in power, at least to an extent. They want to feel more powerful than they presently do. Why is that? Well, I would argue that people learn from an early age that power equals the capacity to have what David Deida calls “freedom and fullness” in their lives. And perhaps even closer to home, they learn that to be loved by a another person often requires that they be powerful.

So given that so many people love power, how can we build an approach to power that is healthy — i.e. integrated and balanced, leading to a feeling of wholeness rather than fragmentation?

Ken Wilber’s quadrant model gives us a way in to answering this question. In his pioneering approach, Wilber has demonstrated that each moment of our lives has at least an interior aspect, an exterior aspect, a collective relational aspect, and a collective systems aspect. This can be seen in the diagram below:

Ken Wilber’s AQAL Model

What do these four aspects or domains of life have to do with the issue of developing our strengths or power? Well, what I have intuited is that there is a specific form of power that corresponds to each domain. And note well, power over other people is NOT a part of this integral approach to power, because power over others leads to a destructive dynamic that ends up hurting all involved.

Your Power Source #1: Power of Authenticity

In the upper left quadrant, the interior parts of the us, the form of power that is healthy, that leads towards the experience of real freedom, is the power of authenticity. The power of authenticity is the power that derives from being true to ourselves. To be true to ourselves means being honest with ourselves.

Being honest with ourselves is a little trickier than we might think, since we DO seem to have a tendency to lie to ourselves sometimes. There is a specific technique developed by Ken Wilber and taught by Diane Hamilton, called the 3-2-1 process, that you can use to address this pesky tendency to be dishonest with yourself, and I will teach it to you in an upcoming post. To get started right now, take a few minutes to journal what you are currently thinking and feeling. Then review what you have written and ask yourself, “is there anything more to this story?”

Going within can be a challenge if we are not used to it. As a life coach, I can assist you with this process by providing an emotionally safe relationship in which to explore this inner terrain.

Another way of stating this kind of power, then, is that it is the power of sincerity. You have probably met people who seem sincere to you, and you find them undeniably attractive. Most of us have a bullshit meter that we use to help us discern who is sincere, and who is “playing games”. I also call this type of power, “power within”.

Your Power Source #2: Power of Self-Mastery

Ever rubbed shoulders with a martial arts expert, highly experienced yoga teacher or elite athlete of any kind? Think about Michael Phelps, perhaps the ultimate current example. What makes people like this powerful is their mastery of their bodies — i.e. their behaviors. In this sense, the power of self-mastery is a kind of power over — it is an objective form of power, but again not power over the bodies of other people. The power of self-mastery could also be seen as relating to mastery of any kind of technical discipline. For example, in the arena of productivity, David Allen has developed a wonderful approach called “Getting Things Done”. Mastery of the specific actions involved in Allen’s process leads to this kind of power, the power of self-mastery.

As a life coach, I can assist you in developing this kind of power by assessing what disciplines the development of which would be most likely to move you towards your goals, and then developing a plan together with you to move you in the direction of mastery of those approaches.

Your Power Source #3: Power of Relationship

I believe it was the spiritual teacher Starhawk (yeah, I know, her name is a little pretentious) who first named this kind of power in a pithy way, calling it our “power with”. This form of power is the power that we feel when someone really understands us, and when we really understand another. Buber called this the power that comes from the experience of “I and thou”. This is an increasingly influential form of power, and thankfully so.

The development of this kind of power depends on a three key skills, which I can help you develop. The first skill is that of perspective-taking, which means being able to take the perspective of the other person, to look at the world — and especially to look back at us — as though from their eyes. This is the first crucial skill for developing the power of relationship.

The second crucial skill is empathy. We don’t only need to be able to see from out someone’s eyes, we need to develop a feeling of care and concern for the particular experience of that person, especially their challenges and difficulties in life.

The third crucial skill is the communication of empathy. Feeling empathy for another is not enough — we must be able to communicate it to the other person in a way that they can hear it.

The humanistic approach to coaching in which I was trained, as developed by the pioneering psychologist Carl Rogers, is based largely around these three skills. Since I was trained in this approach in my Masters of Arts in Counselling Psychology program, you will experience the benefits of the power of relationship by selecting me as your coach / therapist.

Your Power Source #4 — Power of Membership

“Membership has its privileges” went the old American Express mantra. And it is true. Ken Wilber has suggested that the power of membership is the single largest source of power affecting where people are at in their lives, on average.

I’ll use a personal example to illustrate this form of power. I completed a Master of Arts in Counselling Psychology at the University of British Columbia. By completing that course of studies at an accredited institution, I also became eligible to become a member of the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. This in turn allows me to purchase practice liability insurance, one of several benefits of membership. Many employers in my field expect their counsellors to have completed at least a Masters in Counselling as a pre-requisite for being hired, and for us to be members of this or a similar association.

Here’s another example at a greater level of power — a physician who holds membership in the College of Physicians and Surgeons in British Columbia where I live can charge the BC Government insurance plan for their services, resulting in the capacity to earn income at a much higher level than most other, more “regular” folks. And if they are a specialist, then they can charge the government health insurance plan that much more, pushing their annual income into the $300k plus range.

More recently, many of us are realizing that the power of our membership as homo sapiens needs to be taken a lot more seriously. We are recognizing that we are members of a planetary biological system that we need to honor. Membership has its privileges, in this case, but also its responsibilities and requirements.

As your coach, I can help you evaluate your current level of power in this domain, and then devise a strategy to develop it — in a way that is hopefully respectful of your membership in our ecological system. For example, in the medical field and others domains, educational initiatives like those put forward by the MetaIntegral Institute can help you develop your power of membership.

Power Source #5 — “Secret” SOURCE Power

OK, I admit it, I lied to you. There aren’t four types of integral power — there are, in fact, five.

And this fifth one probably should be listed first. All the sources of power I shared above have to do with the “power of becoming”, whereas this one has to do with the “power of being”.

The question of “how” of develop this type of “causal consciousness” power is thus paradoxical. Paradoxical yet important, so here are a couple of practices. They won’t enlighten you, because as it has been said, enlightenment is an accident. But they definitely can help make you “accident prone”.

The first one is well-liked by my father, Chris Foster, who publishes his work at The Happy Seeker. Dad likes John Sherman’s approach to the paradoxical, mysterious nature of life, and John’s approach can be summed up as “look at yourself”. In other words, use your intention to shift your attention to your inner sense of being an “I”.

In addition to Sherman’s approach, I really like Candice O’Denver’s “short moments of awareness, repeated many times, becomes automatic”. Candice suggests that there is available to all of us at all times as kind of “open intelligence”; in fact, that our most intimate experience in any moment is of that very nature. It’s open — not closed. And it is intelligent, not stupid.

In terms of the visual that I provided above, we could think of this fifth kind of power as the paper or screen itself on which the diagram itself appears!

So to develop this kind of power, take a few moments whenever you remember to do so, and ”look at yourself” or allow yourself to rest in “open intelligence”.

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