A recent experience with a business owner highlights one of the confounding aspects of our human nature…our inability to see our own leverage and power.
The business owner had entered into a contract which contained elements that he later found limiting. His attempts to honor his commitment while moving forward were met with disdain. Indeed, the other party demanded further restrictions without offering additional compensation. The business owner agreed to the additional restrictions.
In situations like this I wonder whether the person abdicating power is blind to the leverage and power he possesses or is unwilling to exercise his power.
If it’s blindness, then how is it that we see so clearly other people’s power but overlook our own?
One possible answer is that we want something so badly that we’re afraid of losing it if we take a stand against the oppression we’re experiencing. Consequently we see their power to take away what we desire, but not the leverage we possess in preventing the person from doing so. That’s as likely to occur in personal relations as in business.
Another possibility is that we don’t have enough confidence in ourselves…our ability to counter a stronger personality. We see the other person’s power, but not our own. In other words, we fear that we’ll lose the contest of wills.
It may be that we’ve been victims so often and so long that we can’t envision any outcome that doesn’t involve us as a victim.
Regardless of the explanation, these folks don’t see their leverage and power. Consequently, they acquiesce to unreasonable demands instead of standing up for their rights.
But that doesn’t explain why, when people become aware of their power, they are unwilling to use it.
This is another aspect of human nature that I find mind boggling. Over the years I’ve come across people who still resist taking action on their own behalf after they’ve been shown the power they possess.
It’s one thing not to see your power, it’s another not to use it when you realize that you have it. No, I’m not suggesting that the person become a bully. I am saying that when you have power you need to use it to protect yourself from the unreasonable demands of others.
Upon reflecting on these situations I realize that there are two, closely-related elements that explain this behavior. One is confidence, the other fear.
Fear and confidence
As I suggested in earlier posts, fear is forgetfulness. We forget the times we’re successful…when we’ve produced favorable outcomes without the benefit of background or experience.
If we remembered these times, we wouldn’t be so fearful. If we weren’t fearful, we’ be more confident. If we were more confident, we wouldn’t tolerate the behavior of those who would take advantage of us.
The next time that you find yourself running scared…wanting to cave to others’ unreasonable demands…remind yourself of all the things you’ve accomplished without any background or experience.
Better yet, don’t wait for that type of situation to occur. Instead make a list of all the things you’ve learned over the years…all of the success you’ve had, especially when you have no background or experience. Then review the list twice a day. Once in the morning shortly after rising, then again just prior to going to bed.
This will embed in your subconscious mind the realization that you have tremendous power…power that’s available to you any time you need it, including the times others attempt to take advantage of your good nature. In other words, it'll remove the blinders.
When these situations arise you’ll be prepared to ask yourself “What power do I possess in this situation? How can I use that power as leverage in negotiating a more fair and equitable result than the one being demanded by the other party?”
Only a confident mind can set aside the fear emotion and take a more reasoned, conscious approach to solving the problem of unreasonable demands. With confidence comes power, but failure to use that power to produce equitable results will diminish the power you possess and your ability to resolve the issue.
For our kids
Share what you’ve learned with the kids in your life. Have them make similar lists and have them review them privately and occasionally with you so that you can remind them to expand the list with the new successes they enjoy.
And don’t forget to live the message. Kids emulate our behaviors, especially when they see them work. Together, you and your kids can learn to not only see your leverage and power, but use them to protect yourselves from oppression. You’ll enjoy the confidence that accompanies your new mindset.