Claim Your Power by Taking the High Road

By Jessi Kohlhagen

We’ve all experienced the weight of regret after reacting impulsively to a challenging situation.

In the heat of the moment we’re often compelled to do or say things that feel necessary or satisfying at the time, only to look back and agonize over the fact that we made a bad situation much worse with our carelessness.

We’ve all experienced the other side of the coin as well, and felt the glory, grace and liberation that comes from taking the high road.

But what, exactly, does it mean to “take the high road?”

As Laura Markham so eloquently puts it…

“The high road is love. The low road is fear. Always choose love, as often as you can.”

Some synonyms for fear in the context of challenging situations might be:

Feeling threatened

And some synonyms for love are:


The low road is traveled by those who:

– Are more concerned with being “right” (or not being “wrong”) than resolving conflict quickly, gracefully, and with a willingness to learn and grow
– Insist on getting their words in, even when they are harmful or the other person may not be in a
receptive listening state
– Do not yet possess sufficient self-awareness or self-control to NOT impulsively act on their emotions, even when they know they will regret it later
– Feel threatened and, as a result, cannot muster the necessary truth and courage to look within and see ALL situations as a mirror to their own inner work (read more about how the other person is never the problem)

The high road is traveled by those who:

– Choose inner peace, love and personal growth over appearing right
– Have the discipline, courage and strength to hold space with each and every inner reaction that arises without acting on it
– Understand that everyone and everything in life that triggers us is a sacred mirror to our own inner work… and are brave enough to gaze deeply into that mirror
– Choose the path of transformation, using the art of relationship (and conflict!) as an alchemy to elevate their consciousness, compassion and benevolence

The high road is the most powerful position of all — the low road never leads us to the destination we desire.

“How people treat you is their karma. How you react is yours.”
-Wayne Dyer

Osho said, “Each time you don’t allow situations to corrupt you, your soul becomes more crystallized.”

Every time we allow a situation to corrupt our vision and compromise our integrity, we hand our precious power over to our external world, feed our inner demons (we all have them), and affirm to the universe that we need even more of these challenging opportunities to learn from our reactions and grow beyond them.

Profound growth comes from learning to contain our power and energy within ourselves by remaining whole in every situation. This is the true meaning of integrity… the undivided unification and integration of all parts of ourselves.

Here are five tools to conserve your inner strength and take the high road, regardless of your circumstance:

1. Detach: We must disentangle ourselves from the strength of our own emotional currents and habitual conditioning in order to simply witness the sensations that arise, and accept them equally as they come. This is the beginning of inner work and sacred self-responsibility.

2. Observe: We begin to notice the stories we attach to our reality in difficult moments. These stories are what keep us rooted in the stubborn recurring “problems” in our lives that we just can’t seem to shake. When you empower yourself to observe them from a more courageous, liberated, truthful perspective, you may find that they aren’t even real, but are simply projections of a fear within you that you are trying to avoid.

3. Feel: Seek to find all the places within where you habitually leak energy and inner strength (mentally, emotionally, physically, energetically). What are the triggers? What fear is at the root of their manifestation? Where in your emotional body do you feel them? Can you allow them to swirl around in the light of your awareness without rejecting or projecting them?

4. Accept: See, accept, embrace and send gentle healing love to all aspects of yourself (especially the ones you consider most ugly). What we resist persists, what we embrace dissolves. The degree to which we can accept is the degree to which we can be truly free.

5. Be Truthful: Respond consciously by holding to what is TRUE about the situation at all costs. This is not merely a limited idea of “right and wrong,” but a deep sense of what is real –the highest, wisest, most elevated and enlightened perspective. In this transcendent place, there is no right and wrong, there is only what is — and it begs us to know it, feel it, embody it and become it.

Like any path worth walking, it isn’t easy at first. But eventually it becomes second nature.

“Someone once asked me, ‘why do you insist on taking the high road?’ I answered, ‘why do you assume I see two roads?’” ~ Unknown

With each step forward we gain greater awareness, strength, wisdom, and access to truth. This becomes the fuel for our journey (and ultimately our soul growth) until one day we realize that we’ve completely transformed our relationship to the world around us in every way. We have claimed our inner power, and as a result, our absolute freedom.

So ask yourself… what road do you choose to take?

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