You already have all the power you need to have, do and become whatever you want. Chapter 4 of Are Americans Really this Stupid? – You’ve Got the Power explains where too many of us go wrong.
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I hope we are not getting too intense and that you are enjoying our exploration of truth. I suspect you are, otherwise you would not still be reading. We are going to arrive, I assure you, at a simple and understandable conclusion.
Know the truth and the truth will set you free.
The United States of America was established and built on the ideal of liberty. Everyone yearns to be free. But what exactly does freedom mean?
Many people will tell you, “Freedom means being able to do what I want to do when I want to do it.” The personal definition of freedom for most is a “me” definition. “I want absolute freedom; the ability to do what I want, when I want, where I want, with whatever I want; despite consequences.” Freedom is all about “me.”
Every force has an opposing force, a contrasting side. Everything has a cost. On the flip side of the coin-of-freedom is responsibility.
Freedom always comes with responsibility. It is impossible to divorce freedom from responsibility. Yet we human beings try and try and try. We want freedom – the ability to do what we want, when we want – without regard to consequences. Consequences are what we are responsible for.
Just like realizing we determine how we feel, we must realize freedom is not free. Freedom has consequences. And unless and until we are willing to accept the burden of those consequences – accept the responsibility which comes with freedom – we will never be free.
Freedom without responsibility is an adolescent pipedream, a fallacy, an illusion, it is getting something for nothing. That is not the way life works.
You might be thinking: ‘The burdens are starting to add up.’ This depends on your perspective.
Life is a dynamic place, a dynamic adventure. As we move through life we feel. What we feel, ultimately, is determined by our greatest power, our greatest strength – our ability to think. Yet most people find this idea, this truth – that they control their own feelings – repulsive. We refuse to know the truth. Instead, we long for freedom without consequence; freedom without responsibility.
We dig ourselves quite a hole.
Are you getting a sense for what the heck is going on? And it is not about them and what is out there. It is about us and what is in here – inside us.
We will keep moving forward, but we have not painted the whole picture yet.
Remember our pleasure–pain continuum?
Opposing forces are always active. We want to feel good, and we do not want to feel bad, so we move toward pleasure and away from pain. Even when we feel good however, quite often the discomfort of fear arises, giving us the insecure feeling: we could lose what we have.
Since most people believe external circumstances determine how they feel, they believe if they can control external circumstances, they can control how they feel. If only they were free to do what they want when they want, “If I were free to do what I want when I want; then I will be happy.”
Our solution to the mistake of believing we do not control how we feel; we do not have personal power; is to attempt to control what is out there. “If I gain control of external circumstances: stuff, people, the environment – everything out there; I can control how I feel and I can be happy.”
“Control – power – will get me out of the hole I’ve dug.” That is what we believe. Getting control over others, is the answer.
Create and image in your mind’s eye. Envision that pleasure–pain continuum as a line. On the right is pleasure. On the left pain. Now add another dimension to your image. Create an equilateral triangle. On the base is the pleasure–pain continuum and on the peak of your triangle is power.
“To break the tension between pleasure and pain all I need is power; then I can control how I feel.” Seeking power becomes our paramount concern.
Most people believe gaining the power they lack will solve their problems.
They forget or deny they already possess personal power – all the power they need. And that they are free to do what they want if they are willing to bear the burden of responsibility.
This denial – denying their personal power – is an unfortunate circumstance for us all.
The truth is you control how you feel. You already possess personal power – your ability to think. Most people are not willing to accept this reality.
“If I have power; then I am responsible.” This is too great a burden to bear.
Most people want to control circumstances, people and things. Most want something for nothing; freedom without responsibility.
We forfeit personal power to pursue, as if our lives depend on it, control over others.
Go back to the image you created in your mind. That image of a triangle represents the pleasure–pain continuum on the base and power at the peak.
We want to feel pleasure; feel good; and we want to avoid pain. Through all our struggles we believe the way to get control of this entire process – to once and for all control how we feel – is by controlling everything out there. We seek power; the ability to control others and circumstances as the solution to our problems. The challenge is however, there is no such thing as something for nothing. Everything has a cost.
Think of your image. If you abandon the pleasure–pain continuum; leave the base and move toward power; you give up something. A tradeoff is the cost of choosing. We rationalize that by seeking power we are forfeiting some pleasure and enduring some pain temporarily. This is an essential, temporary, acceptable trade-off, a necessary evil. We rationalize that once we have power, we will have absolute control over whether we feel pleasure or pain. But the truth is we put ourselves on a treadmill. We constantly struggle through an endless cycle moving from power to pleasure to pain over and over again.
Remember, the truth is, before you got sidetracked in your quest for control you already had personal power. You have personal power now. All the power you need.
We are here, living, experiencing this adventure, to express life. We are here not for “me” – at least not me alone. We are here for “we” – us together, all of us, and all that is. We are here to express more life.
We get caught. We fall into the trap of “self.” We make being happy our primary concern. And we come to believe to be happy we need more control; control over what is out there.
We focus on the wrong thing. Happiness is not the ultimate objective: a prize to seize, an end-point or objective. Happiness is a by-product of something else. You have the power. We all possess power. We just need to use our power appropriately.
We start to make progress, then, too often forfeit our power.
Look for Chapter 5: “Forfeiting Our Power” Monday. Have a great weekend! Scott