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Power or Love or Both

Synopsis: Raising into awareness our common confusions about power and love; power and love gender issues; the Warrior Princess and her love and power problem; looking at growing your powers and integrating your powers with love; and more.

A Common Confusion

“I don’t want love.  I want power.  Love is for the weak.  It makes you soft and vulnerable.  I don’t ever want to be vulnerable.  The strong don’t care about love.  They care about dominance, and control and getting their own way.  Love makes you surrender and do what other people want.  I will never surrender to anybody, for any reason, about anything.  When you love somebody it just gives them a way to control you.  Love turns people into other people’s slaves.  I am always the one in control.  No one controls me.  You can be my slave but I won’t be yours.  Do everything my way and I’ll keep you around for a while but don’t be surprised when I dump you.  I’d rather make people fear me than love me because that way they know I have the power and they don’t.  That’s the way I like it!  Power is everything.  Love is nothing compared to power.”

The person who said this was confronted by several people saying different things about love being the greatest power there is.  That sparked a vigorous debate.  Some agreed with the speaker, some disagreed and some just were confused.  Some who agreed with the speaker said they keep that secret, around others.  They admitted they say all the ‘socially correct things’ about love being great but they really believe power is more important and love is a wimpy thing.  Some said being vulnerable, becoming powerless and surrendering is a good thing about love, unless perhaps it gets you destroyed. There were those who argued that love gave you the power to survive and conquer all manner of things, and others who said to truly love and be loved you must give up all power.  So where are you on the issue of power versus love?

Gender Issues

Here is a gender question for you.  When you read the opening statement from the person wanting power instead of love do you think it was a statement made by a male or female?  The gender was not indicated.  You can check to make sure.  Whichever gender you thought, what do you suspect that says about you when it comes to your mind-set about power, love and gender?

Males are supposed to be all about power and females all about love.  That’s nature’s way according to some.  And then others can see that the idea that males are power-oriented and females love-oriented could be seen as paradoxical.  That’s because if love is the greatest of all powers, as is religiously attested, love is what males should be all about.  Then what about the ideas that ‘men are afraid of love’ and ‘women can’t handle power’ so they have to turn to love?  Of course, there are a good many who hold that all these gender ideas are just cultural teachings and have nothing to do with innate female or male nature.

Fathers, husbands and male lovers who primarily are focused on power may make good protectors and providers, but otherwise lousy parents and spouses.  Mothers, wives and female lovers who focus on love without enough concern for power and its use are suspected of mating with losers and raising weaklings, or so some think.

When it comes to males and females what do you think the differences are in regard to love and power?  Do you think differences exist between heterosexuals, homosexuals and bisexuals regarding love and power?  How much does your own gender influence your mind-set regarding the uses of power and the uses of love?  How much does your culture’s teachings on what is feminine and what is masculine guide your thinking about love and power and what you should do with both.  Does your religion, or your ethnicity, or the socioeconomic status you were raised in guide you to think differently concerning how men and women are to go about love and go about dealing with powerfulness?

As you can see there are many gender issues affecting our mind-sets concerning love and power.  How powerful you are in your own life and how powerfully you succeed at love may be affected by these issues, so raising them into conscious awareness may prove quite freeing and advantageous to you.

The Warrior Princess

“I was so powerful they called me Xena, the Warrior Princess, you never want to cross.  In our multimillion dollar school system I rose to be the number two, most important ‘go to’ person in the administration when you wanted to get something done.  I made really big things happen for the betterment of kids, teachers, staff – everybody actually.  The way huge sums of money got spent, how careers fared and how public policies were made road on what I decided.  The trouble was that all that power went to my head and I neglected love.  You see power intoxicated me.  I believed myself to be invincible.

“I had a passionate, erotic affair with one of our district’s sexiest coaches just because I could.  Not only that, I manipulated myself into having all sorts of special perks and privileges, and got away with it.  I out-maneuvered my competitors and gloated over defeating my rivals.  It all came crashing down when my much neglected husband left me for another, much more loving woman, and my kids told me they wanted to live with their dad and her.  It was then that I discovered I had no real friends but only ‘power pals’ who would disappear the minute I lost power. 

“It was my loving brother and sister who saved me in spite of all the times I had ignored and discounted them.  They got me to come to counseling where I learned the real significance of love and its incredible, and far more important kind of power.  Now I’m rebuilding my life and doing it with love as the number one priority because that’s what’s really working for me now.  The other day my daughter asked if she could spend the summer with me.  I never was so happy as when I heard her say that.”

Consider this.  Power devoid of love tends toward destruction.  To be constructive all human powers are best mixed with compassionate love, and without love all human powers bend toward evil.  Whether it is in a single individual’s life or in a whole society, culture or civilization, ‘power must be mixed with love’ and ‘love with power’ if good is to be achieved.  Do you disagree?  Do you agree?  If you do, how will you apply this to your life?

Power Positive or Power Negative

The mere mention of the word ‘power’ is off-putting to some.  They see power only in light of its misuse for destruction and dictatorial dominance over others.  Some people exist who seem to want power just to have it without any concept of power’s positive or negative usage.  Many want power because they were once powerless and much pain and suffering resulted.  People who lack sufficient, healthy self-love sometimes want power so they can ‘get even’, ‘wreak vengeance’, or just see themselves as better than others.  Still others want power so that people will envy and fear them.  No small number of people want power so they can acquire money, status and have various advantages.  The question here is, will they do this in a constructive ‘I win, you win, nobody loses’ fashion or will they disadvantage others and be more destructive than constructive?

More healthful are those who want power so they can affect positive change.  That’s where love comes into play.  A passionate, altruistic love of people is the motivation behind so many of the world’s improvements.  The invention of hospitals, the abolition of legalized slavery, freedom movements of many kinds, democracy itself, medicines, cures and treatment methods galore, and so much more has come into existence because love was wed with power and a significant advancement was the result.

At the more personal level, parental love of offspring finds the power to send them to college, friendship love powerfully rescues comrades in distress, family love grows the power to bring relatives out of harms way, and mate love creates the powerful team it takes to cope with and surmount life’s challenges and obstacles, to name but a few ways that power and love work together for human improvement.

There are powers we can see as negative.  The powers of hate and greed are examples.  They are seen mostly as causing destruction even though once in a while they may actually do some good.  Some people have kept themselves alive and surviving by hating an enemy.  Greed occasionally starts a business empire which employs many people in some sort of constructive endeavor.  Powerful and much maligned ‘Lust’ has helped some couples have a really excellent sex life (see the entry “Sexual Love Laces”), and almost no one questions ‘lust for life’ being a good thing.

Some powers are questionable.  A powerful religion may bring about feeding starving children or it can bring us an inquisition or a jihad that slaughters innocents.  A powerful political party can bring needed reform or it can negate the rights of minorities and suppress justice.  Once again the trick is to put ‘power with healthy, real love’ and ‘healthy, real love with power’.  That way the chances of a primarily, healthful, constructive result is not guaranteed but is much more likely.

Neutral Power

Most power can be seen as neutral, not good or bad.  Electric power can light our world but also can electrocute someone.  Economic power can be used to achieve higher standards of living for some while bankrupting others.  Charismatic power can lead armies in both just and unjust causes.  Power may be used for the health and well-being of people, animals and our whole planet but it can be used for death and destruction as well.  Also it can be used for exceedingly useless endeavors.

How you use your power is up to you.  By the way, you have power whether you know it or not.  You have the power to influence, at least a minor way, everyone you encounter.  Your frown, or your smile or your neutral look influences everyone who sees you.  You register in the subconscious of everyone passing by and at least in a tiny way you have your influence.

Grow Your Power, Integrate Your Power

Do you know how you are powerful?  Do you have a powerful personality, powerful charm, powerful leadership ability, powerful kindness, economic power, organizational power, powerful empathy, powerful reasoning ability, powerful friendship, high-quality teaching ability, potent emotional energy, strong listening ability, business acumen, competency in the arts, music, etc., talent for guiding your family, ability to make people laugh and be happy, or any one of at least a thousand other power possibilities?  You do have power, and you do have the power to develop your power.  You also have the power to integrate your power with love.  Examine this thought, “All good things can be said and done with love and be better for it” (see the entry “Say it with Love”.

I like to recommend that if you’re going to make healthy, real love a high priority in your life you might as well also learn to be quite powerful.  That way you will empower your love and likely will be much more effective in your own life and the lives you touch.  Integrate your love with your power and your power with your love and a lot of good things are likely.  Some people don’t do that.  All day at work they are trying to be powerful.  Then they come home and try to be about love. Why not be about love done powerfully all day long?  You can work to grow your power integrated with your love to affect positive change every, healthy way you can.

To do that means you’re probably going to have to think about power and how you mix it with love.  It seems we have an awful lot of people on the planet who are thinking about growing their power but not in connection with love.  Others are thinking about how they hunger for love but not about being powerful in the giving of it.  Whatever ways you can be a love-empowered force for the health and well-being of anyone, including yourself, I suggest, is a very good thing.

Hopefully this mini-lesson will start you thinking about your own power, how to integrate it with your love and grow both together.  There’s lots more to be said about power and love, and in future entries more will be covered.  Until then, do yourself a favor and give some thought to how you go about dealing with love and power – okay?

As always, Grow and Go with Love

Dr. J. Richard Cookerly

Love Success Question
Can you list the ways you are and can become more powerful, and can you imagine yourself doing those ways with love?

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