personal powerA few weeks ago I began to discuss personal power.  Let’s begin today’s lesson with a quick review of some key points.

Quick Review

Personal power has several definitions.  We’ll be focusing on the one that states that it is the ability to achieve your desires.

Power is related to name calling, insults and teasing.  The reason that people use name calling, insults and teasing is to try to achieve their desires. In my blog post titled INSULTS: A COMIC STRIP LOVER’S GUIDE, I provide readers with eight typical desires that people seek to achieve by using name calling, insults and teasing.  One example that we covered is the desire to get someone to improve. illustrate this, we looked at a mother who sees her young boy misbehaving.  She desires to get him to improve, so she yells at him, “You little brat, stop that right now!”

If the plans that this mother uses typically achieve her desires, we say that she is a powerful person, or she has a great deal of power.  If the plans that she uses make it harder for her to achieve her desires, we picture her as weak and ineffective.

Readers of this blog have been learning plans to increase their skill when they are tempted to launch insults at others or when they find that someone is trying to insult them.  Learning the sources of power will greatly enhance these skills.

People who are powerful at achieving their desires create effective plans.  The term, “plan,” when used here refers to a series of steps that are described in enough detail so that any reasonable person can immediately implement them.  Because there are so many different types of situations in which you find you have a desire, at times you will feel stuck in coming up with a plan.

A “source of power,” as used here, refers to an idea that can help you to come up with a plan even when you feel stuck.  Such sources of power, although not specific enough to implement without some creative problem solving, are helpful in fulfilling a wider range of desires than specific plans.  Knowledge of the sources of power can turn a feeling of hopelessness into a feeling of challenge.

After introducing these basic ideas, I  began to build a list of sources of power.  This list is in alphabetical order, beginning with the letter “A.”  Once we are done, by keeping the list readily available whenever you feel stuck about how to achieve your desire, you will be able to retrieve the list, and as you go through it, you will find that it can often serve as an aid for creating a promising plan.  By spending time familiarizing yourself with the list, you will find that even when you don’t have the list at your fingertips its alphabetical arrangement will aid your recall.

So far, the list looks like this:


A=Advancing Skill (see The ABCs of Power: The letter “A”)

B=Breaking Down a Conflict into its Three Conditions:  Desire, Interference and Guilt (see The ABCs of Power: The Letter “B”)

C=Coalitions (see The ABCs of Power: The Letter “C”).

When the list is completed, there will be sources of power all the way up to the letter “F.”  Today we add to our list a source of power that begins with the letter “D.”

D is for Discussion or Debate

If you find yourself having trouble coming up with a plan to achieve one of your desires, inviting a variety of people to participate in a discussion about this can often be very helpful.

There are a variety of ways to use this strategy of getting a wide range of perspectives on a difficult issue.

 Dilbert debate

In the above comic, Dilbert decides to participate in a discussion with himself.  Although this certainly can be helpful at times, involving others has some benefits as well.

Here’s an approach that I think is particularly helpful.  Describe your difficulty to two people who are not embroiled in it.  Do this by first providing your perspective.  Then flip a coin to find out which of the two individuals will pretend to be using your perspective while trying to come up with a useful plan. The other person is asked to be free to take any perspective he or she wants.

Depending on how complicated the situation is, put what strikes you as a reasonable period of time aside for the first round of the discussion.  Once that time expires, ask your helpers to reverse roles.  That is, the person who had been taking your perspective now is to be free to take any other perspective.  The person who had been free to take any perspective now is to be restricted to take your perspective.

It is often very valuable to set up these types of discussions on multiple occasions.  On each occasion, you would be wise to seek out very different types of people to participate.

How can you get people to discuss your problem?  One option is to call family members or other people that you know.  Begin by asking them how they are doing, listen intently, and then ask them either to meet you and the other family member in person for the type of discussion you have in mind, or for them to engage in the debate using an exchange through email.

Another option is to use the search engines on the internet.  In search engines such as Google, you can just put your problem in the search bar and numerous ideas may be retrieved.

There are also numerous blogs on the internet, some that target very general problems, and some that focus on pretty much every conceivable type of issue.  Consider joining one or more of these, and then throw out your problem to the subscribers and see what they come up with.

An Example of Using the “Discussion” Source of Power

shyLeroy, a shy seventeen-year old boy, has been feeling pretty lonely lately.  He moved into a new city with his parents and is having trouble finding new friends.

He’s tried to start up conversations at school, but just can’t really get himself to do it.  He has a few cousins in the city he used to live in who are about his age, so he asks them to discuss this through an email exchange.

One cousin, Ty, takes the perspective of a very shy boy, just like Leroy.  The other cousin, Rodney, takes the perspective of any one he wants.

“There’s nothing wrong with being shy,” writes Ty.  “If you don’t have any friends, then you don’t have to put up with a bunch of jerks.  You get to do whatever you want when you want to.  With friends, one guy wants to go to one movie, another wants to go to a different movie, neither of which you want to see.  You don’t need friends, they’re just a stupid hassle.”

“It’s great having friends,” Rodney replies.  “If your friends don’t want to go to a movie you want to see, then you can still go alone.  But sometimes they do want to go to a movie you want to go see, and then you got some company.”

“I just can’t make friends,” writes Ty.

“Sure you can,” Rodney comes back.  “Hey, listen, I got an idea. On the internet, there are a bunch of groups that have been formed with the purpose of achieving a common goal. and websites like it include national groups and tons of local ones as well.  You type in your area code and a list of the meetup groups in your area come up.  You can also search by activity.

“Sometimes the groups in your area do not deal with the exact thing you are interested in.  You can still meet with one that comes closest, take some time to get to know the people, and then propose setting up another group that addresses more directly your specific interest.”

After this discussion, Leroy decides to give the idea a try.  He goes to its webpage, and because there is no one right there in person to reject him, he finds that he can look around the site with pretty much no anxiety.

He has always been interested in vintage cars.  He types that into the site’s search engine and discovers that his city does have a group that meets regularly.  Not only that, but they are putting together a vintage car show on the edge of town and they are looking for volunteers to help out.

vintage car showLeroy signs up to be a volunteer, and finds that the folks that he meets are eager to discuss with him their common interests.  Before long, he meets a few people who become his friends.

At the website, he also finds a group for “shy people.”  They meet once a month as a support group.  He gives that group a try and finds that he is learning to deal better with his shyness from the group’s weekly discussions and he enjoys their company.  He ends up no longer feeling so lonely.

Well, that’s today’s lesson.  Have a great week.


Some people will enjoy reading this blog by beginning with the first post and then moving forward to the next more recent one; then to the next one; and so on. This permits readers to catch up on some ideas that were presented earlier and to move through all of the ideas in a systematic fashion to develop their emotional and social intelligence. To begin at the very first post you can click HERE.


About the Author

Jeffrey Rubin grew up in Brooklyn, received his PhD from the University of Minnesota and has taught conflict resolution there as well as at a psychiatric clinic, a correctional facility and a number of public schools. He has published articles on anger and conflict resolution and has authored three novels.


  1. THE ABCs OF POWER: THE LETTER E | Name Calling, Insults and Teasing
    June 2, 2013 - 12:46 pm

  2. THE ABCs OF POWER: THE LETTER F | Name Calling, Insults and Teasing
    June 9, 2013 - 4:08 pm

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