Twice in as many days / by vanessa

I recently heard an adage attributed to Aristotle which is, (loosely), “Power is the ability to be and let be.” Often when I meditate a phrase or mantra will present itself and today this is what kept coming up for me. I sat without searching for its lesson, instead just watching as the words scrolled repeatedly across the canvas of my mind. Then, walking to get my morning coffee I began to think about its meaning.
So there are two parts to this dictum and though the first is to be, I focused initially on the latter, to let be. Last night during meditation I had a gnawing sense that I can be energetically manipulative. It’s so subtle that I don’t consciously notice it, and like one’s shadow its presence is detected by reflection.
Both on the surface and in lucid intention, I am that person who is supportive and loving and lets others be. I am conscious in my interactions with others to not say something manipulative or controlling. Yet the fact is that within the last week I’ve had two separate people -- one who knows me very well, and the other who is preternaturally intuitive -- both call me on suspicions where essentially I’ve been saying one thing but conveying another. Defensive and indignant, I tried to convince myself that they were wrong – certainly nothing that I’ve spoken would substantiate their intuitions. I used that as support that it wasn’t me. But I tend to process things slowly, and so as their observations have lingered, I began to entertain their validity and how two people who don’t even know each other can arrive at what is really the same suggestion.
I’ve since come to realize that I’ve been hiding behind a mask, excuse, whatever - that because I can’t be indicted on my words that the label doesn’t fit. It’s said however, that somewhere between 70 and 90% of all communication is non-verbal. This suggests that very little of what I speak contributes to the impression that others form of me. It’s like that Emerson quote: “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.” Yes, I can protest all I want but at some point I have to look at the evidence.
Okay so how do I let others be? My heart doesn’t seek to manipulate or control, so how do I align my deeds with my intentions? That’s where I’m at right now – being aware of my tendencies, asking for change, and trying to ferret out the source of fear that is likely behind wanting to control.
Which brings me back to the first clause: the command to be. The ability to let others be seems to lie in allowing myself to be. It’s a hard pill to swallow – seeing my own shadow and the way in which it has negatively impacted others. Historically, becoming aware of these less-than-desirable qualities left me saddled with guilt and shame. This in turn had a victimizing effect where I became paralyzed by the inability to live with and accept my flaws. Thus, any progress that awareness brought was handicapped by the misperception that those flaws were ME. This year, part of my growth has been learning how to keep unhealthy self-talk in check. Questioning shame offers valuable separation and forges the way for affecting meaningful change in my patterns.
I think that being, in large part, is forgiving myself of my imperfections. They don’t define me, nor make me a bad person, and in fact, awareness of their presence allows me to see the humanity in others. It’s when I spend so much energy NOT being i.e., trying to control, not loving, not accepting, effort-ing, that I lose connection to my inner guide – that which keeps me in integrity and self-love. And when I have those two pieces (integrity / self-love), I suspect that there’s no space left to manipulate or energetically stifle others. I’m free to be and let be. And that is power.