Would You Like to Have a Life Filled With Sovereign Power?

Bill Abbate

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

When you hear the word sovereign, what comes to mind? Most of us think of royalty, such as a king or queen. At one time, kings ruled and had sovereign power over their kingdoms. While the word sovereign is not common today, it has definitions other than its use in referring to royalty. Let's discuss one of those uses and its application to you and me.

Did you know you are sovereign? Every person is sovereign in a manner of speaking. We have personal sovereignty, which means we have supreme authority to reign over our own self as an individual. Each of us reigns over our thoughts and body to a large degree. We can think any thoughts we want and do with our bodies whatever we desire within limits.

More than a century ago, the renowned Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, Tennyson, penned these words:

"Self-reverence, self-knowledge, self-control; these three alone lead life to sovereign power." Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892)

Let's look at the three areas Tennyson claims to lead to this sovereign power.


Self-reverence is another term you do not often hear today, so let's start with its definition:

"self-reverence - noun - Very high or serious respect for one's own character, dignity, or the like; great self-respect." The Century Dictionary

When you watch over your character and dignity and are a person of integrity, you can rightly develop great self-respect.

True self-reverence involves having a clear understanding of who you are, what you want, and why you are here. In other words, it is to be clear about your purpose in life.

To respect yourself, you must hold yourself to a higher standard. The question is to whose standard?

How much respect can you have for someone who has no idea of what they want in life and why they are here? And without knowing the higher authority they hold as a standard, how much can you really know about them?

For most of us, that authority is God; for others, it is the government, and for some, it is their own beliefs. Nonetheless, character, dignity, and self-respect must have a standard against which they stand; otherwise, they are practically meaningless. It is helpful to know what this standard is as it tells you much about who you are.


How well do you know yourself? While on the surface, most of us think we know ourselves well, in practice, you will find that is not usually the case.

By studying and teaching emotional intelligence for many years, it is fascinating how few people know themselves to any depth. Most of the high-level executives I have coached, even those with outstanding educations, have needed to work on their emotional intelligence, and not just a little bit!

Among the five components of emotional intelligence are self-awareness and self-control, two of Tennyson's requirements that lead to sovereign power.

Without an intimate knowledge of yourself, how can you be genuinely self-aware and exert control over yourself at any given moment? For more on the subject of emotional intelligence, check out this brief article, How to Make Sense of Emotional Intelligence.


You can't have self-control without having self-knowledge or being self-aware. As you get to know yourself better, who you are, what you are doing, how you are thinking, and when you are reacting, you can develop self-control. For most of us, this is a lifelong process.

To gain self-control, you must learn to recognize what triggers you. In this triggered, reactive state, it can be difficult to exert control over yourself. But as you gain self-awareness, you will be able to develop more self-control. Think about it - how can someone control something when they have no awareness of it? Therefore, without self-control, how can your life be lead to sovereign power?

Final thoughts

Isn't it fascinating that Tennyson recognized key components of emotional intelligence long before the term and concept came into being?

As you increase your emotional intelligence, you increase your understanding of why you exist, who you are, more of your purpose in life, and the ability to control yourself. Add to this self-respect, and you can go in the direction of sovereign power.

If you are like most of us, the need to work on these three items in your life will be an ongoing, lifelong process. Now that is something to think about! Why not choose one of the three and begin to work on it today?

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA

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