My new sense of power didn’t depend on my being right or better than or in control. In fact, I started to understand that the more I let go of control, the better I felt. As I started to plumb the depths of my inner world (which, to that point, had been a terrifying place to visit) I found a way to make friends with my darkest parts. They, in turn, moved aside, so that I was able to access the treasures of energy and light and wisdom that they’d been guarding all along.
Stepping back to try to understand what in the world was happening, I began to knit together the threads that I had been gathering for decades. There was the Power Over/Under skein, lots of experiences of feeling adrenalized, terrified, sanctimonious, triumphant, humiliated. Well, I could see the drawbacks of all of that. Then there was this newly forming coil of experiences where I felt happy, alive, open-hearted, strong. That seemed to be what Starhawk meant by “Power With.” Power—with others, not against them. In connection. As if the power itself enhanced and created connection. And the connection turned back around and supported everyone, everything to feel better, do better, be better.
It was clear which would make for the strongest, brightest, most beautiful tapestry. I set about gathering whatever else I could to weave into it. I found Power vs Force, and finally understood the difference between real power, which opens to flow, versus force, which creates unrelenting resistance. I studied trauma, and saw how the human nervous system mirrors the rest of mammals’, and how pack animals (including humans) naturally rely on hierarchy under threat. I began to understand the cognitive and physical limitations of animal threat brain (which I termed “Reactive Brain”) and how those quickly shift into infinite creative and physical possibilities once the more relaxed brain (which I called “Creative Brain”) takes hold again.
As I understood each of these new concepts, I kept testing them out. Personally, I saw the striking difference between life in Reactive Brain and then in Creative Brain. As I cultivated Creative Brain, my relationships opened up, smoothed out, deepened. My body felt better, stronger, more alive. Life became about how much fun and adventure I could muster each day.
Meanwhile, I tried out each new idea with the individuals and couples I worked with. I found which worked better and why. I taught workshops and led groups where we continuously experimented with these new pathways. I have such an amazing job, where the bottom-line goal is to find ways for people to feel better and better. I realized that real, true power is exactly that: living a life of aliveness and passion through one’s alignment with one’s deepest self. As essence is unveiled, satisfaction and fulfillment predominate. Deep connection to oneself opens up connection to others and to the world at large. And to life.
Playing with these concepts over the years finally opened me up to an even more profound aspect of living in real power. I saw how, as people align with their deepest selves, they are actually in alignment with their souls. As a therapist, I was surprised to be talking more and more about the soul, but truly, it was the logical next step. (And as a psychologist, a studier of “breath, spirit, soul,” it was probably inevitable.) While, for a long time I thought of Power With as “real power,” I’ve come to see that this work is about something even more. It’s evolutionary. Finding true power means stepping into soul evolution. Shifting out of identifying as a victim of life and into the role of creator means that every encounter, every experience shapes us to be closer and closer to the divine self that is actually walking around on the earth.
(OK, Patheos readers, just one more forthcoming blog to finish my introductions…)
For more information about me and my work, go to www.juliacolwell.com.
 Power vs Force by David Hawkins (1992, Veritas Publishing)
 You can read more about these in my books, The Relationship Ride: A Usable, Unusual, Transformative Guide (2012: Integrity Arts Press), and The Relationship Skills Workbook: A Do-it-Yourself Guide to a Thriving Relationship (2014: Sounds True).
 Great gratitude to each of you for stepping into this new world with me.