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The Power of Presence and How You Relate – Love or Fear? 1 of 2

When you own your ability to create happiness, you feel personally empowered, and effective in your relationships, as a partner, parent, colleague, leader, and so on.

Your ability to choose iss power. You have a built-in ability to create happiness in your life and relationships, and the quality of your presence is the substance that builds trust.

Power here is defined as a choice that shapes actions and outcome – by energizing emotions rooted in love or fear.

Actions that stem from being present convey a sense of connection to your self and those you love. Perhaps more importantly, presence sends a message that affirms your commitment in a relationship, energizing good feelings that cause the brain to release Oxytocin, a hormone linked to felt sense of safety, love and connection.

Presence is pure power as it also holds limitless possibilities for personal and relational healing and transformation. It is present moments that offer opportunities in which you can, if you choose, stretch out of old comfortable places.

Whenever you succumb to low energy emotions of fear, such as disappointment, shame, resentment, your emotional vibrations, wittingly or unwittingly, however, you risk energizing more of the same in others around you.

Your ability to choose an optimal response, even when triggered, is power to dictate your emotional presence and state of mind.

This means that situations that trigger your stress response are unique opportunities for you to stretch your capacity to love your self and key others in your life, and in the process strengthen the courage your heart needs to feel safe enough to remain open to love in moments that most challenge you.

This is what loving with your whole heart is about.

Love and connection are what give meaning and purpose to life. Neurologically, you are wired for relationships. Life is all about relationships because your brain performs essential processes, such as learning, in relational contexts.

When you have a felt sense of connection in a key relationship, for example, your brain releases a hormone called Oxytocin, which not only activates feelings of safety and connection, it simultaneously nourishes the cells of your body, thus, promoting your physical and mental health and well being.

In contrast, when your feel stress and disconnect in key relationship, your body releases Cortisol, the stress hormone, which shakes your sense of safety.

Thus, power is a choice of what emotional energies express you at any given time.

  • It is a choice in how you relate.

Power is energy that expresses your choice in how you are relating at any given moment within three key relationships: self, others and life in general. It is a conscious or subconscious choice to energize emotions of either love or fear. So, power is a message, a verbal or nonverbal communication you send that carries emotional meanings.

  • It is energy that activates action.

Power shapes your responses and in turn is shaped by your perceptions (what you believe about your self, others, the situation, etc.). Thus, power is an emotional energy that shapes your actions, your choices, your emotions, and your relationships as an outcome of what you believe about how you “should” relate, express yourself, etc.

  • It is an intention that resonates with either love or fear.

Power is a conscious or subconscious intention to shape actions and relationship outcomes by energizing, primarily, either emotions of love or fear. As an intention, power expresses what you really, really want based on what you believe you or others “should” do for you to have a felt sense of safety, love, respect, cooperation, in your relationships.

  • It is the result you produce by your responses.

Power is what power does. Emotional energy shapes your choices and actions, the type of power you choose produces dramatically different “results” that affect your emotional and physical health, your relationships, and your life accordingly. Power that stems from and energizes love creates outcomes such as empathic connection, creative action, authentic communication, and so on. In general, this energy also draws you toward others, and others toward you. In contrast, power that energizes fear tends to produce reactivity, defensiveness, protective strategies, and the like. Relationally, the energy from these behaviors causes distance between you and others.

In short, your presence is pure power, emotional energy that, depending on whether it is rooted in either love or fear, shapes the actions you take and the results you produce. Your presence is power as a conscious or subconscious choice you have regarding how you relate, at any given moment, to your self and life or others around you.

Another way to think of this is as follows:

Your subconscious mind, as your body’s operating system, has primary directives that ensure you both survive and thrive. Your safety is a top priority. Responses from love or fear are two very different ways to promote this built-in striving for safety.

Power is a conscious or subconscious choice that shapes actions and outcome by energizing either love or fear.

Whenever you choose to act in ways that energize your body’s felt love response, you are reaching for a sense of safety via love and connection, whereas when your actions energize a felt fear response, you are seeking a quick-fix sense of safety via defenses and protective strategies (your body’s ‘fight or flee” system).

Incomparably, love is more powerful than fear. Hands down, for example, the power to choose to consciously shift away from survival fear, the moment it surfaces, and instead respond from a place of conscious love, takes a lot more strength and courage (than giving into reacting defensively).

In a sense, depending on whether you choose love or fear, the power of your presence is a choice that either draws you nearer to those you most care about or causes a deepening sense of separateness.

“Power is the capacity to translate intention into reality and sustain it.” ~ WARREN BENNIS

So, how can you use your presence to supercharge your life and relationships with more love? That’s the topic of Part 2.

For now, remember that the emotional presence you bring to your relationship matters. You have the power in moment-to-moment choices to energize the best in your life and relationships. Enjoy it!


Damasio, Antonio (2010). Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain. NY: Pantheon Books.

Siegel, Daniel J. (1999). The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are. NY: Guilford Press.

The Power of Presence and How You Relate – Love or Fear? 1 of 2

Athena Staik, Ph.D.

Relationship consultant, author, licensed marriage and family therapist, Dr. Athena Staik motivates clients to break free of anxiety, emotion reactivity, and other addictive patterns, to awaken wholehearted relating to self and other. She is currently in private practice in Northern VA, and writing her book, What a Narcissist Means When He Says 'I Love You'": Breaking Free of Addictive Love in Couple Relationships. To contact Dr. Staik for information, an appointment or workshop, visit, or visit on her two Facebook fan pages DrAthenaStaik and DrStaik

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APA Reference
Staik, A. (2012). The Power of Presence and How You Relate – Love or Fear? 1 of 2. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 5, 2020, from


Last updated: 12 Jan 2012
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