You've Always Had the Power

Shelley Lieber • 4 min read

We were conditioned as children to believe that power rests outside ourselves, with those who “know better.” But what happens when we turn our minds and allegiance over to others?

You've Always Had the Power


Do you remember the famous line from Glenda the Good Witch in The Wizard of Oz as quoted (correctly) in the title? Or, perhaps like me, you remembered it as, “You had the power all along." Either way, the value is in the message, not the verbiage. And a powerful message it is.

In real life, we were conditioned as children to believe that power rests outside ourselves, with those who “know better.” After a while, it became almost natural to believe what we were told and trust reliable sources: our parents, teachers, government officials, famous people, and in current times, “influencers.” But what happens when we turn our minds and allegiance over to others?

Consider the plight of little Dorothy of Kansas. Uprooted from her home and loved ones by a force over which she had no control, she understandably looks for help to make sense of her situation. Her number one mission: Get home to her loved ones.

So when she’s told that the Great Wizard of Oz is the only one who has the power to make her wish come true, she didn’t even once consider trying to get back there on her own…and look what happened to her. After a long, arduous, and sometimes dangerous journey, she learns it’s a scam. The Wizard holds no real power.

Or does he?

Once the façade is dropped, the Wizard has to rely on his own true resources to grant the requests of these unusual visitors to his land. Using only his wits and the contents of a large bag, he confers a PhD degree on the Scarecrow, bestows a ticking heart-shaped watch upon the Tin Man, and pins a medal of courage on the Cowardly Lion. Suddenly, they’re transformed.

As for Dorothy, the Wizard holds no magic, and it seems that she will not get her one wish granted. Enter Glenda with her beautiful crown and magic wand. But where did the true magic reside?

At first, Dorothy is confused by Glenda’s statement, “You’ve always had the power.” So Glenda explains that Dorothy first had to learn some important lessons before she could use her power.

“What have you learned, Dorothy?” asked the Tin Man.

After some consideration, Dorothy suggests: “It wasn’t enough just to want to see Uncle Henry and Auntie Em. And if I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard.

Remember how Dorothy’s face lit up when Glenda the Good Witch nods and told her all she had to do was click her heels together? You may have thought the magic was in the shoes, or maybe in the chant, “There’s no place like home.”

But the real secret to Dorothy’s success was in her spirit—that light that shone from within when she thought about what she loved. That’s what got her back home to safety, surrounded by those she loved and who loved her.

Now think back to earlier in the movie—how scared and abandoned she felt when she thought she was lost, alone, and separated from her familiar, comfortable life. When a great big, powerful force took her away from everything she knew to be true, and she suddenly found herself in a strange world.

I don’t think it’s a big stretch of our imaginations to parallel our current “reality” with that of Oz or our situations with Dorothy’s plight. It certainly can seem that things are beyond our control and the answers are somewhere out there for the ones in powerful positions to reveal.

Perhaps we also can consider that maybe beyond the façade of what appears to be true, there’s just a little man trying to make himself look bigger…at least in the metaphorical sense.

Remember, once the sham was revealed, the Wizard solved the problems with his quick thinking using only common objects he already had stowed among his belongings.

But even those things were truly only representations of what the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, and Scarecrow already had within themselves. Sometimes we all need a bit of reassurance and confirmation to believe what deep down we know is true but have let faulty thinking dissuade us.

Young Dorothy was fortunate to learn her valuable lesson at an early age. But it’s never too late, and old dogs can learn new tricks when they become uncomfortable enough to change positions.

Change doesn’t have to be big. Bigger is not necessarily better. I've found that smaller is better in many cases: indie artists and book sellers, local merchants, restaurants, and even back roads vs. highways.

Small changes can yield sizeable—and sometimes life-changing—results. Here are a few suggestions:

Switch to a different media platform or broadcast news source. You may find that a new or different perspective resonates better.

Unsubscribe to some or all marketing newsletters and you’ll probably notice that not only didn’t you need what they were selling, but you now have extra money at the end of the month.

Stop supporting brands and institutions that don't support your values. It's difficult at times to know the truth about what goes on behind the scenes at large corporations and organizations. There's too many layers of administration and operation between you and truth. But it's pretty easy to get to know your local merchants and determine if they are people whose values are congruent with your own.

Cut ties with people who don't honor your decisions or opinions. It's not necessary to agree on everything, but if someone mocks or devalues you for your position, it's better to disassociate. No reason to grant any real estate in your thoughts to people who try to decrease your value or self-esteem.

See how much power you have? It’s really just a matter of owning it. Owning your right to choose what information you respect, accept, adopt, and internalize.

We've been conditioned to believe it's too hard, too much work, or too complex for us to understand. But we're not children any more, and we have the right and the responsibility to show up, stand up, and claim our power.

It's time to Think for yourself  (like the Scarecrow); have Courage (like the Lion); and show kindness of Heart (like the Tin Man). And most of all, be like Dorothy and know that everything you desire is available to you, right in your metaphorical backyard—inside yourself.


Photo by Amy-Leigh Barnard / Unsplash

Text ©Shelley Lieber

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