While we’re all born with inherent and inalienable rights, some of us born with more privilege and power than others. In Western society, that means is that there are the Haves and the Have Nots, and that the Have Nots access to resources (wealth, political power, etc.) is more limited than the Haves. I accept this fact and acknowledge it as true. What I don’t accept is the narrative of disempowerment that this (way too often) plays into.
What do I mean? While it’s true that some of us overwhelmingly move through certain spaces with more ease than others, it doesn’t mean we’re powerless. Where do we get bombarded with this message? Statistics. We’re regularly bombarded with well-meaning research results showing us that many societal and individual ills are cyclical.
A few examples that come to mind: poverty, educational achievement, obesity. The interpretation [of the results] is generally presented as, “Because you were born into this, you’re more than likely going to stay like this”, or “Because you are this, your kids will be, too”.
When people hear this, by and large they abandon personal responsibility. Don’t believe me? Think of the most common reasons given for why someone is stuck in a rut: “It’s genetic”; “That’s the way it’s always been in my family”; “I didn’t have the same opportunities”. When you start making these excuses— and they are excuses— you give away your power. You also accept limiting beliefs about yourself from society. You accept that you can’t progress forward because (insert societal attitude here).
You overlook that power is relative, and that we have agency in creating our own realities. Not being powerful in one sphere of influence doesn’t preclude you from being powerful in another, or creating your own. In fact, I’d argue that it’s freeing. You can see many of society’s pie-in-the- sky illusions for what they are earlier than if you’d been born into them, and redirect your energy toward creating your own standards of success. You can create normal. Tony Robbins once said, “Human beings absolutely follow through on who they believe they are.” If who you believe you are is someone that can only go so far, then you’ll only go so far. If who you believe you are is someone that is powerful, you will find ways to develop and exercise that power.