This is the fourth in my series of eight articles on The Elements of Masculine and Feminine Power in Relationships. Look at my elephant journal page for links to the others.
I’ve identified 12 Elements of Power – 6 yin/yang pairs – that describe how human power works, diagnose where it goes funky, and guide us to gentle self-correcting mechanisms to get our power flowing smoothly and sustainably again.
In this article, I’ll introduceand Driving, the Elements of Power that relate to how we get what we want.
How We Get What We Want: The Power of Receiving and the Power of Driving
Our culture – and particularly the human-potential arena – have tended to prize the “self-made” man or woman, who’s definitely an icon of Driving Power. Our ability to “make it happen” sometimes gets prized above our ability to “let it unfold.” On the other hand, I believe much of the application of the Law of Attraction (that thoughts become things, that aligning your attitude with your desires and expecting goodness to come to you will help it happen) has been dangerously shallow, wherein people just wait for their good to knock on their door. That’s a distortion of the Power of Receiving.
When active Driving and active Receiving work together, they’re like the right foot and the left foot, gracefully moving our lives forward. In particular, in relationship, Driving lets us give, take action and plan. Receiving offers the crucial counterpoints, allowing us to let our partners (and the rest of life) in, to accept process and timing we might not have designed, and to surrender.
The Power of Receiving
Receiving is our capacity to connect to our deepest desires, to savor desiring for its own sake (rather than simply as a motivator to “go for it!”), to allow others to hold us, insert their influence and effort, and to let our desires (or something better) unfold in ways we can’t anticipate.
The Power of Driving
Driving is our power to make things happen, to control and act and follow through on a plan and extend effort toward a goal.
Both these Elements of Power are good things – especially when they’re active and integrated with the other. When we’re both receptive and driving and flow back and forth between these two modes of creating our lives, we’re able to feel and benefit from both these truths:
– Surrender is powerful: setting our inner compass according to our authentic desires creates ongoing, potent change in us – and less directly, in our outcomes.
– Action is powerful: planning and following through with action are potent ways of using our power in the world.
The fantastic things in life can all be traced back to the exercise of one or more of the 12 Elements of Power. And the messed up things we do to ourselves and each other can be viewed as distortions of one or more of the Elements, as well. The good news is that power is self-correcting: All we have to do when something goes wonky is activate the complement of the Element of Power we’ve been overusing.
Your relationship would benefit from your activating more of the Power of Receiving when:
– You complain that you “have to do everything” in your relationship or at home. You don’t HAVE TO… You just have been.
– Your partner tells you you’re bossy or controlling or “never slow down.”
– You feel like your requests don’t get heard, honored or responded to. (Hint: they’re probably not landing as receptive requests; more like marching orders or complaints, both of which elicit allergic reactions from homo sapiens. Try “If you would _____, that would provide me with ______. If you won’t do it, here’s what I’ll need to do: _____.)
– You feel like you constantly have to be planning the next step, managing more details, thinking of what needs doing.
– You’ve been thinking your partner isn’t very capable/with-it/smart/on top of things (truth: probably you’re not with a doofus, but that you’ve been hogging the “Driver” seat)
– You’ve got desires you haven’t made known to your partner. Or maybe admitted to yourself. Or – the most thorough version – you don’t know the answer if I ask you “What do you want?”
– You’re cranky and feel not-very-well-taken-care-of, a lot of the time
Your relationship would benefit from your activating more of the Power of Driving when:
– Your partner says “I feel like I have to do everything” or “I need you to pull your weight more”
– You’ve know the things you want for your relationship would happen better if you took more direct action toward them
– You realize there are things you’d be happy to do for your partner (or for yourself) that your partner would appreciate, too, and you’re not doing them, or not doing them enough
– You’re feeling pent-up, like your energy is like water backed up behind a dam
– You don’t like the thought patterns you hear in your own head – in the sense that they sound too “entitled” or like a victim or passenger in your own life
How else do you see the Power of Receiving and the Power of Driving showing up in your relationship – in either clean or distorted ways? What questions do you have about these Elements of Power? Next week I’ll be back with the next pair of Elements: Nurturing and Providing, which relate to how we relate to ourselves and others. Good week for that pair of Elements of Power, since I expect to give birth to my sweet daughter sometime in the next week or two! Till we meet again, love with power!