The phrase “scientia potentia est” is a Latin aphorism meaning “knowledge is power”. It is commonly attributed to Sir Francis Bacon, although there is no known occurrence of this precise phrase in Bacon’s English or Latin writings. It doesn’t really matter, since whomever should be credited with this phrase would be wrong!
Knowledge is NOT power! Let me break it down this way: A popular childhood toy that teaches shapes to youngsters was made as an educational experience. From it, children learn that a square piece goes in the square hole, a triangle in the triangle hole, a star in the star hole, etc. And you, as adults, know this, right? But is that knowledge enough? If you know this and then still try to put the square in a different hole, how does that make you powerful?
The phrase should be, “Knowledge plus Action equals Power”. It is only in taking the knowledge that we have and using it to create success that we gain power.
Most of us have or will encounter at least one, drama-filled, toxic person in our lives. We know, intellectually, that we need to step back from/remove that relationship for our own safety and sanity. However, once an attachment is formed to that person, often before we see the pattern of behaviors that make them toxic, it is a difficult task. We know that this person brings negative energy and stress to our lives, but the knowledge of that does not keep the negative energy and stress from occurring. Our power does not come from this knowledge. Our power can only come from ending this relationship, no matter how painful it is to lose this person we care about. Our power comes to us when we take action!
This truth that “Knowledge plus Action equals Power” can be used in almost every aspect of our lives. We may stumble along the action route, trying to find a way to commit to action that is courteous and the least painful. This is especially true when choosing to step away from a relationship. But if we choose to take no action, then the message to ourselves is that we would rather stay mired in the negativity than face the effort to change it.
I share this information with you because of a recent personal experience. I had a friend – we’ll call her “A” – who got into a word battle with other friends over a post I made on social media two years ago. I was not a witness to what happened, but it spiraled enough so that A lost her temper and said some unfortunate and rather nasty things, and then, out of her anger, quickly blocked me from seeing her on all social media sites. Of course, everything she said in the course of this tirade was instantly removed from my media, so I was only able to hear one side of the story. I was hurt, angry to be blamed and held accountable for this conversation that I’d had nothing to do with. But, as time passed, I was able to look at my friendship with A and see that her side was always filled with drama – about her adult siblings, about her husband’s adult children, etc., etc., etc. Looking at that more objectively, I was able to realize that, while I missed the good aspects of our friendship, I did not miss the drama! I even became thankful, in a strange way, that she made the decision to stop the friendship, because I only see now how her negativity about everything added stress to my life, yet, I’m not sure I’d have had the commitment to action to change anything.
Now, after two years of silence, A sent me a message a few days ago which said, “Hi. Can we talk?” Just those words. I’ve been through a range of emotions over this. I do miss the friendship, but I KNOW what re-opening the door will bring back into my life. And so, as much as it makes me sad, I KNOW that I need to follow through with action that values my right not to have that added stress and negativity. I’m more than curious as to why A has reached out after all of this time, and a part of me wants to dream that A has changed from the dramatic style I knew her for. But despite that dream and curiosity, all I can hope for is to find a kind and compassionate way to respond that says, “No, thank you.”
The knowledge of the harmfulness in our friendship is just that – it’s knowledge. But it’s the action I take now that will determine my power. The right decisions aren’t always easy decisions…