The Law of Power:
You only have the power to change yourself. You can’t change another person.
This is a big whammy in counseling…it’s one of the ideas you hope every person will own for his or her self.
oh, and I suppose I should mention that I struggle with it myself too…
This week I was having lunch with a friend who mentioned that her husband recently disclosed struggling with pornography. Having been through a good amount of counseling herself, she knew she couldn’t fix it, but she wanted to. So she called another friend whose husband is a recovering sex addict. “What can I do?” she asked. Her friend responded, “You just keep working on yourself and be honest with him about how his actions impact you.” Wow. That’s wisdom. (I received permission from both friends to share this story)
Cloud and Townsend go on to say: “You must see yourself as the problem, not the other person. To see another person as the problem to be fixed is to give that person power over you and your well-being. Because you cannot change another person, you are out of control. The real problem lies in how you are relating to the problem person. You are the one in pain, and only you have the power to fix it.” p. 201
In my own journey, this has been pivotal at times. For example, I couldn’t let go of my bitterness towards men until I owned my own part in my relationships and how I have wronged men as well. Many men will never change- they will always cat call, and stare, and mistreat- but once I changed the way I responded to them, I became in control of my own feelings instead of giving them control.
How hard it is to look at our part in any conflict when we have been hurt, but just like everything else in life- blame is rarely black and white. We are not all good; nor are we all bad. The path to healing includes acknowledging both where we’ve been hurt as well as where we’ve hurt others.