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  • Writer's pictureRonald S. Newman, Ph.D.

Seeking Balance in our use of power

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When we contemplate the primary psychological and emotional needs people experience, we can narrow them down to the need for power (power of choice) and the need for connection (belonging) in relationships. In this article, my focus will be on our need for power, although absent the loving connections with others, abuse of power will lead to all the evil and suffering humanity experiences each and every day.

In families, imbalanced power dynamics lead to emotional abuse, potential domestic violence, and divorce. In schools, it results in bullying. Machiavellian politics disregards the needs of some “other” group who is strategically undermined, attacked and defeated.

Power, ultimately, is the power of choice. Totalitarian governments use their power remove freedoms from individuals or groups.

We all make choices continually. Those choices shape our lives and influence those around us, often in profound ways. As you consider the choices you have made, and those you face today, below are some considerations to reflect upon.

Developing physical power. The power of our body to help us accomplish our goals in life can be enhanced through healthy nutrition and exercise. Certainly genetics plays a role which is outside of our control, yet we can develop strength through lifting weights, going to the gym, and simple reminders at home to incorporate the disciplines of an exercise routine into our schedule. The same is true of nutrition, where some things will sap your strength while other foods will facilitate it.

Build emotional strength. Mastering our emotions is part of the challenge of maturing. How do you handle the hurts and disappointments of life? Do we face anxiety and fear by surrendering to it, or with an attitude which challenges it? By giving in to our fears, we may fail to experience the enrichment of adventures into the unknown. This may include the blessing of healthy relationships.

Strengthen our power of reason. Science requires man’s inherent reasoning capabilities.

Our ability to gather data and analyze it has enabled mankind to reach out to the moon and beyond. It also enables us to think logically about problems in our daily lives to fix a leaky sink or toilet, as well as work to improve relationships.

Develop staying power. Resilience is needed for most tasks. We persevere in spite of difficulties with parenting, education, training for vocations, etc. Even hobbies require perseverance to develop mastery of various arts from painting and sculpting to crafts of all types. Musicians and athletes have to sharpen their skills with much focused effort.

Competence requires power. We develop our competencies in every vocation or hobby by making choices. Professional athletes develop their skills while young, putting in the work necessary to hone their abilities by following their coach’s guidance. Students develop the discipline to study, laying the foundation for future education and advancement into a desired vocation. Employees develop habits of compliance with work policies and procedures and are rewarded with advancement on their jobs. Every ability can be improved, provided you make the right choices.

Security necessitates power. If you want a secure home, you need the power to lock your doors and windows to deter thieves. For inner security, we need the power to deflect personal attacks against us, including attacks that come from our own “inner critic”.

Navigating the arena of our own mind, including self-protection, is essential. We must maintain the value of others sufficiently so that we can use our power to repair relationships rather than simply cut others off when they have hurt us.

Risk-taking requires power. Taking risks of any kind potentially increases our insecurities, yet this is necessary for growth in learning new responsibilities, developing new skills, establishing healthier habits, and building new relationships. Adventures involve risk, whether traveling to a foreign country or starting a new job. “Progress always involves risk; you can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.” (Frederick Wilcox)

The power to love. Relationships can be difficult. Exercising our power to love by choosing to stay connected is essential for lasting relationships. Listening and being supportive, being kind and forgiving, and speaking truth with compassion, are some ways our power to love is demonstrated. We overcome our fears by our love, and we are then free to share our gifts and abilities with others whom we want to bless. The ability to stay connected to others by valuing them and their needs is essential for finding balance in our lives.

Spiritual power. Understanding that ultimately, God is the source of all power, shifts our perspective to one of humility and surrender, paradoxically resulting in faith that God will give you the power to do anything He calls and has gifted you to do. God is love and has the power to guide us to healthy relationships which can transform the world.

Ronald S. Newman, Ph.D. is a South Jersey psychologist exclusively practicing telehealth-video-therapy at this time. He can be reached at: or (609) 567-9022.


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