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Who Has the Upper Hand?

Do you ever feel helpless? Powerless? Even bullied by people? Learn to get the upper hand in different situations.



Do you ever feel infuriated with your boss, your partner, your family, or even your children for running you over? As if your opinion doesn’t matter? Or your words don’t count? As if no one is taking notice?

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. My best friend got a rescue dog who was a complete nightmare to handle for the first couple of weeks. She’d run around the apartment, ignore all commands, try to jump on all the furniture, needed constant attention, etc. My best friend kept googling advice and came across Cesar Milan’s videos. Once she started applying his advice, the dog changed. The bottom line? Your dog needs to understand that you’re the alpha and that’s a state of mind, more than anything else.

Family and work dynamics can be tricky, as can friendships and relationships. The truth is, we all sniff out what others will allow us to get away with. The person with low self-esteem is more likely to be picked on because they accept it. They think little of themselves and allow others to treat them accordingly.

That’s not to say that there are outrageous situations where anyone can end up picked upon because they walk into a group of idiots. However, that’s different from someone who tends to end up picked upon in almost any situation.

Even if we don’t allow others to pick on us, we all allow others to have a certain level of power over us at times. Sometimes we allow our kids to emotionally blackmail us, sometimes we accept our partners to have the upper hand. And it all comes down to our internal state of mind. The moment you don’t allow any bullshit, people fall into line.

It can be really difficult to see how these power battles play out. An obnoxious dog is easy enough to spot, but in everyday life, we tend to fall into patterns we don’t even question. We just feel slightly uneasy about how our boss sometimes treats us, or not thrilled about how our boyfriend seems to make us feel bad in certain situations.

If you feel great on the inside, if you don’t let comments get to you, then pretty soon people stop handing them to you. They can see they have no effect on you. You can’t be mentally bullied into doing something you don’t accept.

The reason I’ve been thinking about this is because I raise kids from a township and due to what they’ve been through, they act out in a myriad of different ways. And keeping your cool and not letting it get to you is sometimes difficult. Asserting power with kids who have grown up in an abusive environment and who therefore are abusive can drive the best of us to our limit.

The thing is if we snap and get angry, if we back down on our word because we can’t handle the tantrum, if we in any way, shape, or form give in, they know they’ve won. Staying cool and positive, not letting anyone else affect our state of mind is a lesson in mind control, self-confidence and learning to see a situation from the angle that benefits you the most. My coach always says the guy with the biggest hard-on wins, which may sound crude, but point taken. He also constantly reminds me we mustn’t get caught in other people’s hairy bullshit.

Some people seem to think that anger, being nasty, etc. is about power. It isn’t. Being calm and in control of your own state of mind, not letting others alter it unless you want them to, is about power. Feeling helpless and out of control, or feeling bullied by other people’s thoughts and feelings, is the opposite of power.

Finding your feet when ambushed by someone else’s energy, or by a situation (because let's face it: sometimes we feel "bullied by life, or simply "unlucky" as well) isn’t always easy, but it is possible. Finding your own inner power by choosing your thoughts is the starting point. You decide how you see yourself and the world and how you react to people and events around you. You are in charge, because you are powerful.  

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Isn’t it time that we move beyond religion and rules and belief into honest spirituality which is based on personal experience? Religion offers community which feels comforting and guidelines for behavior which build character. But true spirituality requires an adult’s presence to her own experience. Thinking about what an authority tells us is, at best, a jumping off point for us to assume our own authority.

Developing your personal spirituality means that you choose to participate with Life as an adult. You own your responsibility not only for your behavior but for your thoughts and for conflicts lying just below your awareness. You know that at your core you are a spiritual being having a human experience. You accept that this lifetime is a gift for you to learn some truths and, wisely, you surrender. You know that change is constant and you release your hold on everything, appreciating in this moment what you have been given but not demanding that it continue.

The emphasis is on attending. What am I supposed to learn from this frustration? What is my lesson in losing what I had loved? How am I gifted by the obstacles that block my hoped-for path? We pay attention to the details of our lives in a non-proprietary way.

Through our surrender we see pattern in our experience. We learn to listen to Life and to trust its tugs. We notice that we are asked to submit and to receive. We practice presence. We experience everything, inside and outside, and we release it. We practice gratitude, especially for what we don’t like. ‘Thank you for the opportunity to learn patience while I sit at this red light.’ ‘Thank you for showing me the part of myself I hate in another whom I find irritating.’

A Spirituality of Your Own

And we notice that the details of the day lead us deeper within ourselves. When we pay attention to what happens to us, we are led to what happens within us. We learn more by observing than by attempting to direct.

When we appreciate the unity of the outside world and the inside world, then we truly experience our own spirituality. Spirituality is oneness. It isn’t light and joy and beauty and otherworldly music. It’s the baby crying and the cat messing on the new carpet and the car that stops on the freeway and the job that doesn’t materialize. And it’s saying, “Yes, thank you. Now show me the next step.”

When we embrace our spirituality we say “Yes” to everything that happens because we know that we are one with everything. Our lifetime is not an opportunity to run our will. We are not on earth to see what we can make of ourselves. When we accept Life as an adventure and know that we are the students, then we open to learn. Openness, attention, and surrender are the hallmarks of a mature spirituality.

About Author -

Ruth Cherry, PhD

Ruth is the author of Living in the Flow: Practicing Vibrational Alignment, Accepting Unconditional Love, Transformation Workbook, and Open Your Heart.

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