That’s the title of our morning workshop last weekend and it was amazing to see how many varieties of power struggles and fights we can come up with:
- out and out aggression
- withdrawal of any kind, like sulking or silence
- passive attack i.e. f—- you very much
- distance, no contact
- competition; who is the sickest, the most successful, the most spiritual?
The common denominator seems to be our wish to be right about something. We believe we are totally justified in attacking another person because they are wrong and we are right; they are lacking and we know better. Coincidentally, this week has also seen Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader of the Labour Party in the UK. This has been a controversial election from the start with the old guard and the new expressing very different views. Every day seems to bring new divisions and more condemnation or defense.
Every relationship and every project hits the stage of power struggle at some point because when the honeymoon ends it becomes a fight about who is going to meet whose needs. This is part of the lifelong curriculum in partnership because resolving the fights, building the bridges across the divide, are skills we all need lots of practice in.
It will be fascinating to watch how Jeremy Corbyn navigates the choppy waters ahead. How will he find the flexibility to straddle the extremes? Will he be able to communicate and find the bridge around the principles he has held for so long? Will he be willing to be wrong at times and will we forgive him for that? With so many righteous wars and so much posturing going on in our world, don’t we long to witness some resolution, some honest communication, something deeper and more difficult and more real?
As always, time to bring the outward picture home to how it reflects something for us. In essence, every power struggle is a way we avoid or delay a new step of some kind. There is a growth into another horizon on offer instead. Let’s pretend that this (past or present) fight with your partner, your family, a work colleague or neighbour was a strategy to avoid something good. What might that be? Would you make the choice to end the fight, forgive them and yourself for making a mistake, and step out of being right into being happy?