People Power

Lifetree News
Creating Prosperity with Harmony
Alice G. Vlietstra, Ph.D.
July, 2011

The Power of the People

In This Issue:

1.  Welcome
2.  What is Power
3.  Becoming Empowered
4.  The Power of Positive Emotion
5.  The Power of "We The People"

1.  Welcome

This month in America, we celebrated the Declaration of Independence.  I found myself reflecting on its powerful words: 

“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” 

These words are at foundation of our government and America’s success. The next three newsletters reflect on “We the People” and the power of this concept.

2. What is Power?

That the Declaration of Independence has power is without question.  But just what is  power?

Hawkins, in his book Power vs Force, describes power as that which supports life.  Power lifts up, appeals to that which we consider virtue. It works for the benefit of all.  Power is based on self evident truth. That honesty works better than dishonesty, that love promotes happiness more than hatred, that justice promotes well being more than tyranny is self evident.  Power energizes and gives meaning to life. Power is also associated with compassion, and makes us feel positive about  ourselves.  It unifies.

The source of power appears in the Declaration of Independence. It is in the concept that all people are equal by virtue of the Divinity of their creation. Human rights are intrinsic to human creation and therefore are inalienable.

By contrast, force is crass. Instead of being self evident, force has to be justified.
Instead of giving life and energy, force takes away.  Instead of unifying, it polarizes. Force always creates counterforce.  Someone always loses and enemies are always created. Force is associated with judgment and makes us feel badly about ourselves.   

Today, the word “power” is often confused with the word “force”, and may even be seen as a dirty word. Often, when we think of power, we think of power struggles, deception, manipulation, control, where some people gain at the expense of others. This is not true power, but a false sense of power, or force. I believe it stems from unconscious patterns from childhood. 

3. Becoming Empowered

Our country, based on the Constitution, requires the development of our higher consciousness in order to function well.  One critical way to become empowered is to first develop our power from within by questioning old patterns of belief. In order to appreciate this kind of power, it is helpful to understand human development.  Just as we grow up in our physical capacities and potentials, given appropriate nourishment and exercise, so also do we grow in the capacities and potentials of our consciousness, given proper social and emotional nourishment and exercise.

Children, by nature, are dependent on adults who have many more resources, skills, and   abilities.   As a consequence, a child’s view of the world, as compared with adults, is much more constricted.  Children, due to the immaturity of their mind, do not have the ability to put events in context, and due to their egocentrism, may falsely blame themselves for events they do not understand.  As children mature,they develop the skills needed for functioning in society.  Their view of the world expands and their perception changes from that of a top-down parent-child orientation to one of equals as adults. 

Many times, however, as we mature, old childhood patterns stay with us. Then, when we get into relationships, these old unconscious patterns pop up.  If we choose to reflect upon them and change them, they can be transformed.  If not reflected upon, they can lead to a negative outlook.  These negative views are not based on who we truly are but the false assumptions from childhood. As we have become increasingly aware of the limiting patterns of childhood, psychologists are able to find more and more methods for releasing them so as to become more empowered, and act on our higher values.

This means that today, power may be much more accessible than we have previously thought. Rather than trying to control others, complain, or put others down, the real opportunities for developing power may come from within by taking time to reflect on how we think and feel, discovering old patterns, and changing them.  In the process we develop compassion for ourselves and others and create a positive influence by creating and demonstrating
a new model. 

This gives a picture of the world that is more hopeful. No longer do we need to rely on a single leader to create change.  Instead, we can act on what we know and set a new example in our families, neighborhoods, and communities. 

The Power of Positive Emotion

As people release old patterns, they become more positive, and relationships and business thrive. Researchers have found that a simple measure, as the ratio of positive to negative comments relates significantly to business and relationship success.

A research team led by Barbara Fredrickson went into 60 businesses, and  transcribed every word that was said at business meetings, and coded them for the ratio of positive to negative statements.  Companies with a 2.9:1 ratios or better of positive to negative statements were flourishing.  Below that they were not doing well economically.  Fredrickson and Losada found similar results for individuals.

John Gottman computed the same statistic by listening to couples conversation for entire weekends.  Actually, you need a 5:1 ratio for a strong loving marriage. 
A 2.9:1 ratio in marriages means you are headed for divorce. One way to maintain a high positive ratio is to realize that old negative patterns may not reflect the truth of who we are.  Instead we can reflect on them, and use them for growth.

The Power of the People

Come join us for a teleconference on Tuesday, August 16, as we discuss the power of the people.  We will be looking at the power of a positive example, and the ways it can have influence in our lives. In particular, we will be discussing the gathering of women  and women’s contributions.  Join us on Tuesday, August 16, from 9:00 -9:30 AM, CDT.  Call 760-569-9000, Access Code 308311#.

Warm Regards,

Dr. Alice



Fredrickson, B. L.  Positive Affect and the Complex dynamics of Human Flourishing, American Psychologist, 60 (2005) 678-86.

Gottman, J. M.  What Predicts Divorce:  The Relationship between Marital Processes and Marital Outcomes.  Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1994.

Hawkins, D. R.  Power vs. Force, Sedona, AZ, VERITAS Publishing, 2000.





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Lifetree News

Become Empowered: Accept and Define Yourself

One of the keys to success in your personal life, your family life, and in your business is to be able to accept and define yourself. This is called differentiation. It is your ability to define your own life goals apart from the influence of others. You see it when you stand up for what you believe when others are pressuring you. For example, if you are being pressured by the kids to buy products you are not comfortable, you can firmly and calmly give them an alternative and tell them, “no.”

Tough Times, Tough People

Successful Relating:
Fulfillment through Connection and Community
Alice Vlietstra, Ph.D.  Editor
September, 2008

Tough Times, Tough People

In this issue:
1. Welcome
2. Tough Times, Tough People
3. Becoming Empowered
3. Wise Wealth
4. Announcements

1. Welcome

Welcome. You have heard the news. Times are tough.  Listening to the news on the economy has left us unsettled, When times are tough, some businesses
and relationships fail while others continue to flourish and thrive. What makes the difference?  I believe it is a matter of mindset, the focus of this e-newsletter.  
2. Tough Times, Tough People

Have you ever found that listening to the news leaves you fearful, depressed,
doubting your abilities, and the future?   Does it leave you feeling constricted?
 It does not need to be that way. You can also use it as an opportunity to become
empowered, think for yourself, gather information, connect with friends and family, and act to find a solution that works for you.

Some people are resilient. They can handle adversity well and use it to expand their options. Others often become overwhelmed with fear.  When you are in fear, it can limits your options. What makes the difference?

Three factors stand out to me. The first is perspective.  People who are resilient
honor their strengths and are positive.  When you look at your higher intentions and strengths, you become more aligned with your spiritual resources. 
Then you are not as reactive to the immediate circumstances. By taking a broader perspective you can also build upon the current situation by
transforming it into an invaluable experience from which you can learn, grow, and share with others.

Second, No shame and blame. If a problem arises, it may not be your fault. Research shows that those who recognize that adverse events often result from factors outside themselves are more likely to see negative events as temporary and to take action.  For example, the economic crunch is a problem of both individual spending and government policy.

Third, discover your sources of community. We are all in this together. The combined concerted action of a small group in pursuing a common goal empowers us, even if it is only the support of one person. A shared focus on
using individual strengths in the service of the common good brings a deep personal gratification for everyone involved. It gives you the support
and faith for finding a solution to the problem.

3.  Becoming Empowered

Everyone has strengths. It is a focus on these character strengths that inspires us to work together for the common good.  In learning how to overcome adversity, I have been discovering stories that are just amazing.

For this reason, I have started a series on "Roots: Discovering the Hidden Strengths That Guide and Empower your Life."  You can check out the series by clicking on the blog tab above. 

Last week, I did a teleseminar where I interviewed Kimberly Schneider, an outstanding manifestation coach in our area. You can catch the replay on
the post on "Celebrating Gratitude." The story of her father's heroism in maintaining a positive attitude while struggling with illness was an
inspiration to us all. 

This week, I posted on Paul Newman. What a legacy of generosity! You will discover how his focus on character strengths has revolutionized business.

4.  Wise Wealth

Wise wealth is more than money.  It includes our relationships.  Indeed, research has shown that a focus on money alone does not lead to
increased happiness.  In order to promote well being, material wealth also needs to be balanced with strong relationships that promote the common good.

In previous newsletters I have written on the gender differences of single focused (men) and diffuse awareness (women). I believe this shows up in our orientation towards money.  As is often noticed, men earn more than
women, and women shop.  Today, many individuals are shifting their
orientation to one that collaborates on the strengths of gender rather than focusing on just one or the other. Indeed, research shows that solutions that build upon the strengths of gender far more lasting and profitable than either one alone (Romig, 2001).

One big challenge to this shift for women is that we still are impacted by old patterns of thinking from the past.  A generation or two ago the men were the
breadwinners and the women took care of the children. In today's economy, women do both.  Suze Orman says, however, that women often follow
an old map that no longer works.  Other writers, such as Babcock and Laschever, says it shows up when women don't ask. 

For this reason, I have organized a workshop for women: Secrets to Wealth and Wisdom. The focus this workshop is to become aware of our old map, release it and learn new approaches towards negotiation that bring out the best of gender.   If you are a woman who is uncomfortable asking for what you want, you will not want to miss this workshop. 

5.  Announcements

 Workshop For Women: Saturday, October 18. Secrets to Wealth and Wisdom:
Asking For What You Want - Money. It will be held on October 18, 1-5 PM. at
"A Gathering Place,"  12131 Dorsett Road, Ste 101, in Maryland Heights, MO. 63043.  Email me for a flyer.

To Your Success,

Dr. Alice


Babcock, Linda and Laschever, Sara. Women Don't Ask.  .Princeton University Press, Princeton University, 2003.
Orman, Suze.  Women and Money.  Spiegel & Grau, New York, 2007.
Romig, Dennis. Side by Side Leadership, Bard Press: Austin TX, 2001. 



© Copyright 2008 Alice Vlietstra.  All rights reserved. The above material is copyrighted but you may retransmit or distribute it to whomever you wish as long as not a single word is added or deleted, including the contact information.  However, you may not copy it to a web site without my permission.

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