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How to Own Your Power – And Keep Your Ears Warm at the Same Time

photo: Donna & Andrew on flickr

photo: Donna & Andrew on flickr

Have you ever given your power away?

There are so many ways it can happen:

You let someone else take the lead on a project because you think they’re smarter than you. You defer to your partner’s ideas about where you should go for dinner because you don’t feel like arguing. You pull over to the curb because the police car behind you flashed its lights and told you to stop your vehicle.

Okay, that last one was a trick. When a cop tells you to do something, it’s usually a good idea to do it.

photo: City of Marietta, GA on flickr

photo: City of Marietta, GA on flickr

Usually.

But even with law enforcement, there are times when standing up for ourselves is called for.

So why is it so hard?

I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the easier it is to stand up for myself. I know myself a lot better, for one thing. And I’ve learned to communicate my ideas and preferences in a way that’s respectful to myself and others.

But still.

I still find myself getting snagged, now and again, by the old habit of giving my power away.

And that’s where the ear muffs come in.

I know what you’re thinking: You gave your power away to a pair of ear muffs?

But they were driving a police car and flashing their lights at me. What was I supposed to do?!

photo: Josh Beasley on flickr

photo: Josh Beasley on flickr

But seriously. Here’s what happened:

I’m a big fan of ear muffs. Mostly because I have no hair. Well, not no hair, but I like to keep my hair short. I also like to walk every morning, when it’s a bit chilly, and that’s when the ear muffs come in handy.

photo: Georgia Davis

photo: Georgia Davis

When my friend Juan first saw me wearing these, he told me that if I wanted to get a girlfriend, I shouldn’t go out in public with them. For the record, I didn’t show them to Melissa until after she agreed to go out with me. Now she loves them. In fact, I got her a pair too!

photo: Z Egloff

photo: Z Egloff

Sounds great, right? Everything was going fine with the ear muff situation in our household, until one day.

That was the day I got into a discussion with a friend of mine about the manufacturer of my ear muffs.

My particular pair of ear muffs are so in love with their manufacturer, they proudly display the logo on their back. Or is it their spine? I’m not totally clear on the exact anatomy of ear muffs, but the part in question goes across the back of the head of the wearer.

In the case of my ear muffs, the name on their spine is 180s.

photo: Z Egloff

photo: Z Egloff

At least, that’s what I always thought.

Then my friend came along and told me the name was Sogl.

photo: Z Egloff

photo: Z Egloff

That’s the manufacturer’s name, she said.

She said it with such certainty. Like, The sky is blue. Or The earth is round. Or, Unicorns like to eat dumplings under the starlight.

Okay, that was another trick. Though dumplings under the starlight are fabulous. Just sayin’.

Anyway, my friend made her ear muff pronouncement with such authority, I immediately believed her.

So much so, that when I lost my beloved muffs and had to buy a new pair, I went online and searched the brand Sogl.

And wouldn’t you know it, there was no Sogl online.

I figured the Sogl brand was only sold in stores and didn’t have online outlets. It didn’t even occur to me to search for any other brand name. My friend had said they were Sogl and I believed her.

It wasn’t until a few months later, when I saw my beloved muffs in a catalogue under the brand name 180s, that I realized what had happened.

I had given my power away to my unicorn-loving friend. Actually, she’s not the unicorn-lover. That’s me.

then always be a unicorn

But I’d given my power away, that part was true.

Now, in the spectrum of Power Giving Away, deferring to a friend’s idea about the name of a pair of ear muffs is not a huge infraction. Indeed, it’s a small one.

But I was fascinated to note how easily I had deferred to her. I could have said, That’s weird. I’ve always thought they were called 180s. What makes you so sure they’re Sogls?

Or I could have said, They’re not Sogls. They’re 180s. I’m right and you’re wrong. Na na na na na.

photo: Zawezome on flickr

photo: Zawezome on flickr

But no. I had allowed the assurance of her tone to deflect me from the truth about my darling ear muffs.

The trick to owning your power is noticing when you give it away.

Once you’re aware of this, you can start to take it back. In the case of my ear muffs, I had completely failed to notice that I’d disowned my own perceptions.

I’d like to think that this little episode taught me a lesson, and from now on I’ll never give my power away ever again, but probably not.

It did change me, though. I’m one notch closer to trusting my own perceptions. And noticing when I don’t.

That’s not to say my perceptions are never wrong, but at least I can give myself the opportunity to back them up until they’re proven incorrect.

Plus, my ears will be warm while I’m doing it.

And that, my friends, is progress.

photo: Georgia Davis

photo: Georgia Davis

Have you ever had a Sogl moment? What did you do?

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17 Responses to How to Own Your Power – And Keep Your Ears Warm at the Same Time

  1. Karen April 30, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

    If we looked up “perfect blogpost” in the ultimate search engine, we’d see this one listed as an example. Wow, Z, you know how to inspire us, amuse us, illustrate it all with such skill, and wrap things up with a bow. Well done!

    And as for the subject of giving one’s power away — trusting others’ judgment over our own — I’ve had plenty of those. Specifically having a Sogl moment — yep! I can’t recall the specifics, just that, like you, I then resolved to trust myself more and not cave so easily to someone just because they seem so surefire certain about something.

    It seems so good to finally feel grown up and feel like a competent authority on a few things — at least as competent, anyhow, as the next person.

    I want to get some ear muffs. I think they make a person smart.

    • Z Egloff May 3, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

      Hi Karen,

      And if I looked up “perfect blog comment,” it would be yours, as always! :)

      I agree with you about finally feeling grown up and learning to trust our own authority. I never understood why people – especially women – said that it feels great to get older. I’m starting to understand.

      XOZ

  2. Tracy April 30, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

    Z, I am so enjoying your blog. Life in ZD is a rockin’ way to move through the universe. I could use some of those earmuffs, myself.

    I have been on both sides of the power trip. I once humiliated myself insisting that there really is such a thing as freshly squozen orange juice – my Dad was a linguistic prankster and apparently I trusted him way too much. Then I married someone who was always right (do you know that guy?).

    This is a great reminder for a recovering please-aholic.

    BTW, still working on my nose wiggle affirmation!
    :)Tracy

    • Z Egloff May 3, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

      Hi Tracy,

      Nice to see you here! :)

      Yes, I met him – the Guy Who Is Always Right!

      Actually, I hate to say it, but sometimes I’m that guy. And sometimes I give my power away to that guy. Such a tricky world we live in.

      Keep working that nose wiggle! It has power! :)

      XOZ

  3. Jo Lauer April 30, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

    It’s taken me until I got old(ish) to let the phrase, “we’re going to have to agree to disagree” roll off my tongue. No one has to give away or usurp another person’s power. We both get to be right(ish). Thanks for yet another provocative topic. LOVE your blog.

    • Z Egloff May 3, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

      Hi Jo,

      Love your comments! :)

      “We’re going to have to agree to disagree” is such a great one. I’m going to have to remember to use that more often when in the company of, um, certain individuals. It’s such a respectful way to set a boundary. And allow both people to be “right.” Whatever that means.

      XOZ

  4. michael frank May 1, 2013 at 11:06 am #

    You will never, ever lose your personal power because those ear muffs also
    protect the “Bug in your ear” that your soulmate Melissa gave you and together the power is so awesome…………….I have the same power with my spirit guide :))

    ps. and he is also my soulmate

    • Z Egloff May 3, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

      Hi Michael,

      A spirit guide/soul mate is a great combination. Especially if he comes with ear muffs. :)

      XOZ

  5. Jill Shinn May 2, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    Hi Z, I can really relate to this post. I used to believe that “experts” in any given subject were automatically credible, until I realized two things: The supposed experts almost always disagree with each other, thus making at least one out of two of them wrong at any given time. And that often their sage wisdom went against what I knew (intuitively) to be true.

    Once a Mom at my kids school noticed that I always wore sweats to drop them off at dark-thirty in the morning, and she said, “You know, Jerry Seinfeld says that wearing sweats is a sign that you’ve given up.” I had to reply, “Or maybe it’s a sign that you’re an athlete, or that you love your body so much that you want it to be comfortable, or that it’s reasonable to throw sweats on to drive your kids to school at 7:30 in the morning!” Don’t get me wrong—I know Jerry Seinfeld is a wise man (or is that wiseguy?), but just because wearing sweats feels like giving up to him, doesn’t mean it’s a universal truth. (And how rude of that mom to criticize my beloved attire!!!)

    Like you said, this is the great thing about being older and wiser: You learn to think for yourself. You’ve heard and seen how much misinformation is floating around out there and you become discriminating in what you believe. It’s actually a blessing of the information age. It’s hard to be gullible anymore.

    • Karen May 2, 2013 at 10:52 am #

      Oh wow, beautifully said, Jill.

    • Z Egloff May 3, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

      I agree with Karen, this is beautiful, Jill! And good for you for standing up for yourself in the face of such unhelpful advice! The older I get, the more I understand the inherent beauty and wisdom of the elastic waist. And my own intuition. Not necessarily in that order. 😉

  6. Jerrine May 7, 2013 at 8:21 am #

    A few years ago I watched a TV show about event design it was a team competition…the designer who lost, even though his design was chosen as the one the committee would full fill. his fellow design team members argued and pushed him around. in the critique the judges pointed out that a designer must Defend the Design. Later maybe a year I was the head of a committee for a huge room sized design at the NEW ENGLAND SPRING GARDEN SHOW. I set up the whole thing in my atrium walls and all worked on it tweaking having the team over fielding ideas; moving the drape from here to there. When we got it the way we liked it we invited a member of our Garden Club to judge it. June is a real judge (NOT EASY TO QULIFY ) she was kind and said it was compliant with the rules ..but she suggested a change, one I didn’t agree with. She is super conservative in her designs and I am not. When we were setting up in the EXPO center Pat who was the president of the club and on my team pushed to have June’s change. I resisted Pat said “Well when we don’t get a blue ribbon it will be your fault!” I held my ground remembering that defend your design advice,; we got the Blue ribbon and a special award for the best in the category. MY BAD!!

    • Z Egloff May 7, 2013 at 10:21 am #

      Hi Jerrine,

      I like this idea of Defend the Design. It’s interesting, in that we get these ideas – where do they come from? – and it truly is up to us to bring them into fruition. As an artist of any kind, learning this idea of Defending the Design is a crucial one. And it’s by watching what happens when we don’t do this – or when others don’t – that we learn the importance of trusting ourselves. Thank you for these two great examples – we can learn so much from others’ processes as well as our own! :)

      XOZ

  7. Georgia October 13, 2015 at 10:22 pm #

    So.. I was googling myself…well my name. Amidst a million pictures of England’s largest teen, with my same name, was Z’s picture and the link to this blog. Great article ZZ!

    • Georgia October 13, 2015 at 10:30 pm #

      And I had completely forgotten about the day you asked me to take those pictures, thanks for the props!

      • Z Egloff October 14, 2015 at 10:50 am #

        You’re welcome – thanks for the pictures!! :)

    • Z Egloff October 14, 2015 at 10:50 am #

      Thank you!! Awesome that you found it via Google. 😉

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