How do you define power? You may choose to consider personal power, societal power, institutional power, or governmental power. What is the responsibility that accompanies that power? Consider power dynamics in your own life. Do these power dynamics seem equitable to you or is the power out of balance?

Power can be seen in two different ways, as personal power and as power towards others, such as social power. Power always comes with responsibility, either towards yourself or towards others, or perhaps even both.

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When thinking about how to define power, you might first of all want to consider what power actually is. In doing so, you will find that there are actually two different angles that define power.

The first angle, which probably is the one most people would first think of, sees power as "possession of control, authority, or influence over others." When looking at social power, you could therefore argue that power means that a person is able to not only influence other people's opinions, but also their actions. This can be done either in a nice way (soft power), without using force or oppression. Alternatively, this power can be used as hard power, where oppression and force are being used in order to assert power. Naturally, social power comes with a lot of responsibility, as the person acting with power is making other people do what they want them to do. Politicians would be a good example here, as their decisions clearly impact on the daily life of their citizens. When reflecting on this kind of power in your own life, you could look at how empowered you feel with regard to politics, for example. Do you get involved in the political process? Do you vote? Would you take part in protests should politicians do something you strongly object to? Do you feel your voice is heard sufficiently? The answers to these questions will help you analyse to what extent this kind of power is well-balanced in your own life.

Another angle of power, which is often overlooked, is the angle of personal power. Personal power is "based on strength, confidence and competence that individuals gradually acquire in the course of their development." Here, power is directed more towards yourself rather than the outside world. In having the ability to develop strength, confidence and competence, a person becomes able to undertake the things they want to do. This can, in return, lead to social power, but this is not necessarily a given. In terms of responsibility, you could argue that here the responsibility lies mostly within the person, rather than responsibility towards others, as it is about developing personal strength and ability. However, once these acquired skills are used and begin to impact other people, then the actor is of course (at least in part) responsible for the consequences of their actions.

If you want to find out whether this kind of power is well-balanced in your own life, I would suggest reflecting on your life to see how far you have come. Have you been able to develop and grow, both in terms of physical growth and character growth? Are you able to learn new skills and are you able to apply those? Do you feel empowered rather than passive?

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