Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My Scary Super Power

We all have things we're good at.  Things we do better than others.  Sometimes, lots better.  We think of them as gifts, talents, abilities.  And I have those, too.

But I think, every now and then, we discover something about ourselves that is so powerful that it scares us.  It's just something we do.  We didn't understand what it really meant.  And then something happens which brings it front and center. 

When this happened to me I freaked out.  I panicked.  I swore to never use my power again.

I have the power of persuasion.  And it scares me.

I used to think it was cool to win an argument or get my way.  I used to like using words to convince my friends to do what I wanted instead of what they wanted.  I used to like using logic to disprove what everyone knew was true -- to the point that everyone was questioning what they believed before.

It's not cool.  It's dangerous.

So many people don't want to make decisions.  They don't want to think for themselves.  They don't want to choose.  And I have often had people try to put me in the position of making the decision for them (which I am actually not doing even if I tell them what to do; they are still choosing to do what I said).

Before I understood this I answered requests for advice.  What do you think I should do?  And I would tell them.  I figured everyone else was like me and would seek lots of advice, do their own research, and follow their heart.  I was wrong.  People would ask.  I would answer.  They would do.

I remember the first time someone said they did something because, "Robin said I should."  WHAT?  No, I didn't.  I just tried to give you more information.  Just my opinion.  Not a directive.

I don't want that kind of responsibility.

But, like King Midas and X-Men, sometimes it's tough to not use this power.  I don't even know I'm influencing someone and then hear later that I changed their mind.

I can argue either side of most questions.  I am quite analytical.  I am logical.  I am good with words.  And I am a student of human behavior, so after a few sentences back and forth I can tell whether this person is arguing with their heart or mind and which area they feel strongest about and which attack will work.  It's kind of like a sport I am naturally good at.  It just happens.

I have learned to be very cautious when answering a request for advice.  If I sense that this person wants me to make their decision for them, I try to give arguments on both sides.  I'm good at seeing options.  And usually people asking for advice aren't seeing options.  I try to give several options without weighing any of them more heavily than the other so they don't think I'm telling them to do this or that.

Why won't I decide for them?  Why won't I tell them what to do?  Especially all those people who are obviously screwing up their lives that I can easily see the answers to?  Because I did in the past and it was bad.

There is always information I don't have.  They don't grow if they aren't self-determining.  And because I believe to my core that each of us should choose for ourselves whenever possible.

And that is something I would like to persuade you of.  That you should choose for yourself.  I believe it with all my heart.  Because that is what this power is truly for.  To testify of truth in a way that allows others the chance to choose it for themselves.  Because we are all more capable, more powerful, than we know.


Katie Gates said...

Good post. It's important not only to know one's strengths, but to recognize the strengths in others (even if they don't!).

Birdie said...

This is a very interesting post. We obviously know about the evil people in this world and how the can persuade people. It is a huge deal that you have recognized it in yourself and don't use your *powers* for evil. I think it shows a strong security within yourself.

Bonnie said...

Awesome. Sounds kind of like Jung's theory that our shadow self has much to teach us, that it is a shadow of the gold within our character. I look at my worst traits and get a peek at what I could do if I were a better person and those traits were pure. The ability to persuade is pure when you do just what you've done - persuade people to find their own power. I love you.


Robin....You freaking rock. :)

Rubye Jack said...

People also only show you what they want to show you. I agree that people need to make their own decisions but it is also good to have that rational voice listening to their concerns. Besides persuasion Robin, you also give a sense of caring.

SHARM said...

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StardustSavannah said...

Robin I think we have very much in common. I'm always the one people come to for advice too. I can meet someone and 5 minutes later they are telling me intimate details of their life and asking my opinion...
it is scary, sometimes.

Nice to meet you- I'll be back.

Karen@WaistingTime said...

Oh that is a great superpower! I'd love to negotiate for the price on items.

Thanks for stopping by my blog:)

Lisa said...

I think this power you have is a gift. Really. Love your work.

Erin Bassett said...

I hate when people don't do the work and think for themselves, especially since we live in the information age and they can easily get multiple points of view and weigh them out themselves. I'm with you, I don't want the responsibility of telling them what to do. For the most part I only put in my $0.02 when it's a safety issue or I'm asked flat out.

Katy said...

This is so interesting because just recently I was debating with a group of people, which I do not usually do, and I got a bit passionate and then they all backed down. The thing is, I should have been happy, right? Instead I didn't like it at all. I was scared by what I'd done! Again, I am impressed with your wisdom. Thanks for sharing!