Traversing the Inner Terrain

The search for the Authentic Self.

Truth vs. Power

What is one without the other?

Truth is, unless power is operating under the influence of truth, it is actually a form of self-sabotage. And while it does take some bravery to live within and from an honest mind, doing so allows us to build a lot more life into our lives.

Most of us live under the misguided assumption that strong people are those with the ability to “control” themselves and others. They are typically seen as people who just don’t seem to have those normal feelings associated with the drama and trauma of life. They are tough, in control, and nothing ever seems to ruffle them. But the truth is that these people are very often not even really alive. They live in a small little circumference of experience, denying any other except that which will garner them a modicum of power. Truth is, they are living out a caricature that muzzles their experience. Why? Because they are terrified of doing anything else. Is this really what we would call strength?

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No, it is much braver to live in an honest mind—a mind that admits that much of life is mysterious and cannot be controlled, that one has no control over others, and that the mind and heart are not meant to be controlled, but heard. The messages of the mind and heart were not meant to be put aside in favor of some strategy. They were meant to be informative, to give us information so that we can then make the decision that is most true.

The people that I most consider to be most strong are those who are willing to not only feel their feelings, but sit with them long enough to discern what message they can get from the collection of emotions presenting themselves to the throne room of decisions. They are those who can own their own behaviors, thoughts and feelings without judgment and with a clear intention to see the utter truth.

People who come to therapy are strong. They have power, because they are trying to get closer to the truth—which is what therapy is really all about. People who avoid therapy under the misguided belief that people who come to therapy are weak, are actually those who are weak. They are afraid of the self-discovery process, as are we all to some degree, but they obey the fear, calling it strength. This is not truth. And it is not real power either.

There are all kinds of things that we call power that have nothing whatsoever to do with real strength simply because they are not true. Some people call rage power. They got someone to do something—or so they tell themselves— “making them do it” by behaving out of rage. This typifies the bully role. Some people think that they can maintain power by convincing others of their worth—through subservience to others or through manipulating others. But actually all of it is manipulation and none of it is truth. Some think, whether consciously or unconsciously, that playing the victim role gives them some sense of control in that they can get others to take care of them. But again there is no truth in this and very little life.

In fact none of the roles we’ve described previously in Traversing the Inner Terrain operate from truth, and all of them operate from some objective based in the need to survive—i.e., the power principle. And while I certainly agree that we need to survive, living is far more powerful than mere survival. And if we focused on the truth, we’d not only survive, but live.

  Picture by Tracy Love Lee

Andrea Mathews, L.P.C., is a Cognitive and Transpersonal Therapist, internet radio show host, and author of Restoring My Soul: A Workbook for Finding and Living the Authentic Self. more...

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