Disempowerment at this level signiﬁ es your longing to connect with the more expansive aspects of yourself and your spirit. You wish to receive more help in your life and work, but you can’t stop overfunctioning and overcontrolling. Crisis at this level is a wake-up call to remind you that you are an indispensable part of life, that you have deep value and signiﬁ cance. But this signiﬁ cance can be realized only when you tap into the power, intuition, and guidance of your higher self.
Consider Amy, the executive director of a small but highly regarded arts foundation in Pittsburgh. Filling out a questionnaire in one of Sally’s workshops, she ranked herself a 5, the lowest possible grade on a scale of 1–5, on her ability to gain recognition for her work, and a corresponding 1 (the top grade) on her ability to deliver outstanding results.
Until recently, Amy hadn’t considered this gap to be a problem. She was the oldest in a large Catholic family and had been raised to put the needs of others first. She considered her willingness to do so a virtue. But she’d recently had a wake-up call that caused her to question her reluctance to claim her own achievements.
Clearly, Amy and Mitch were operating from entirely different premises. She used the interview as an opportunity to be generous and supportive, while he focused on doing what he perceived to be his job.
For a while, Amy comforted herself with the notion that she’d shown herself to be a better person than Mitch. But she received a rude jolt when she learned that her board was less than thrilled with her failure to give adequate attention to the foundation on whose behalf they were working. Painful as this was, hearing of the board’s displeasure from its chair finally spurred Amy to action. Instead of dismissing Mitch as a showboat, she decided to figure out how to become a more effective advocate for herself and her organization.
That’s when Amy realized she was in the habit of turning the spotlight onto other people. If a colleague commented on her well-run office, she automatically credited her assistant. If a donor told her he’d received a strong report on a partnership initiative she had led, she praised the partner. This kind of behavior felt normal to her, a gracious way of responding and very much in line with how she’d been raised.