Turning Your Power Into a Choice

Gizem Saruhan
3 min readMay 21, 2023
Photo by Joyce McCown on Unsplash

What is power? How do you measure your power? Which metrics could show someone’s power? Wealth, prestige, wide social circle? What about kindness? Ability to make a choice?

I am currently reading the book “What’s Our Problem?” which is written by Tim Urban. If you have read my previous article, you may have again seen Tim Urban’s name. Yes. I am obsessed with him nowadays. Actually, I am obsessed with his ideas. I am trying to synthesize these ideas.

In the book, Tim Urban has mentioned two types of the brain: The Primitive Mind and the Higher Mind.

Tim mentioned that our primitive mind has a roommate: the higher mind. And, the higher mind is always happy to make a revision. The last thing the primitive mind wants is for you to feel humble about your beliefs or interested in revising them. So the higher mind’s goal is to get to the truth, while the primitive mind’s goal is confirmation of its existing beliefs.

We eat Skittles because our primitive minds are programmed to want sugary, calorie-dense food. Also, we want to put our power in front of others -because of our primitive minds-.

So, now let’s keep this information in our pocket and imagine for a moment. I want you to think someone is giving you a way when crossing the street. How do you feel? Now imagine this, you see a cooler door left open at the grocery store. Do you want to close that door?

I was feeling awful the other day and then I went out to do what was best for me. After walking through the trees, I walked out onto a busy street still in an unhappy mood and with a sullen face. It was the first link in the chain of my being cherished when someone gave way to me while I was waiting to cross. I said “Thank you” with a small smile and then started to feel more relaxed. Until that driver gave way to me, none of the 10 drivers passing by had given me a way to cross. And one driver completely changed my day.

So, who has the power?

Who has the higher mind?

At that moment, I realized what Tim Urban mentions. The primitive mind always wants to be powerful and superior but the higher mind already knows the real power is being able to make choices. When you make a choice to be kind, you would be a really excellent person. If you make someone’s day, you definitely have a higher mind.

When I realized that, I started to choose to close the cooler door left open at the grocery store. I didn’t cover someone else’s fault, I provided a benefit by my own choice. I’m now powerful.

Here are some icebreakers: “Do a self-audit. Where in your internal life is your Primitive Mind holding the reins? What are the triggers that activate your Primitive Mind and leave you buried in fog? Where do you tend to be at your best — consistently high rung, wise, and grown up?