When Power is in the Wrong Hands

Power is an influential tool, but in the wrong hands it can cause damage and destruction. Some people who seek out powerful positions, only wish to exploit others. We all have examples of how people have used their power to cause harm. These people can be found in any level of society and in any occupation. Some well known abuses of power occur in politics, medical, religion, military and the police. Many of my clients, would say their own families have been the biggest source of a misuse of power.

Who are the power seekers?

In the mental health world, we see that certain mental disorders seek power. Two such personalities are narcissistic and sociopathic. The problem is that these are the exact people who resist treatment. Often they show up in the therapy office because they are court mandated or someone has told them to come (a family member). In either case, these types of personalities rarely take responsibility or are here to do the work of therapy.

What exactly do they do and why?

Having power over someone else makes them feel good. Some suggest these types of people are wired differently, while others say the behavior is learned. Whether someone has a certain brain chemistry or modeling, it comes down to motivation. Do they really want to change or live another way? Most often the answer is no because there are too many benefits to their behavior.

People who seek power over others often feel entitled to special treatment and think they are superior to others. Their motivation is to dominate and control. Outwardly they appear confident but deep down they are insecure. If you talk to them long enough, you will seek cracks in the veneer showing a fragile ego. They suffer from low self esteem and self worth. In order to compensate, their personalities are often bigger than life. Being ego driven, they are aggressive, pushy, impatient and controlling. They will resort to threats and intimidation to get their way.

How they get away with it

Once these types of personalities get a powerful position, they seek out others who will protect and enable them. Through their charismatic personalities, they receive much attention and are very good with social relationships. You may find they have a cognitive empathy, meaning they say the right words but they lack an affective empathy meaning there is no feeling behind those words. Instead of coming from a place of caring for others, they manipulate.

Once a personality like this feels threatened, they will do everything in their power to try and tear you down. This means they will devalue you. It is the person who speaks the truth who often becomes a skapegoat or gaslighted. Interestingly, it becomes the truth teller’s reputation who is at stake, as the perpetrator gets away with a variety of crimes.

Institutions are often unwilling to make changes unless there is a mountain of evidence against a person. Even in these cases, the rigidity of the system sets in. Rather than make healthy changes, such as a firing or suspension, the matter gets swept under the rug. Unless, these systems change, often there will be no change.

What can you do?

The best protection is through education and awareness. It is up to each of us as individuals to broaden our awareness and heal. For some of us it is going public, others it is telling their stories to professionals like me, some write about it and others chose to keep these evils locked deep inside. Do not judge others, for we all are surviving and dealing with trauma in our own way. If you must judge, judge the wrong doings of others.

How can you heal from power imbalances?

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach. She works for caring professionals, who want to prevent or treat compassion fatigue. Her specialty is teaching stress management, assertiveness and boundary setting. Lisa is the Amazon bestselling author of I Fill My Cup: A Journal for Compassionate Helpers and the kindle book Setting Ethical Limits for Caring & Competent Professionals. Get a FREE 10 page E-book; Why Compassionate People Run Out of Energy and What You Can Do About It at http://www.lisahutchison.net

Check out my YouTube Channel: Lisa Hutchison LMHC

13 thoughts on “When Power is in the Wrong Hands

  1. This is a powerful profound piece Lisa…
    So many do not see how many people we are dealing with here in society who come under the categories you outline here..
    I worked years ago from a bombastic boss… A female, who use of power and manipulation caused me many a sleepless night..
    And you are also right about within companies, so much turning the other way to sweep under the carpet… After 13 years I finally left… Best decision ever. in my textile career.. 🙂

    We can see it happening so clearly in todays society especially in the light of the last two years… How pressure is applied to distort and twist, There is a lot of Gaslighting going on…

    Great post Lisa… And yes we need to ensure that healthy changes are made… and such practices whether we think its people with large egos or those whom we label as narcissistic or sociopathic.

    We have to set boundaries and be more responsible for our own actions and in monitoring those who think it’s okay to tear another down and threatening behaviours

    Many thanks for sharing your thoughts and wisdom Lisa.. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  2. What a profound and timely post, Lisa. I’ve also worked under some women who abused their power. Can you believe that the men bosses I have had in the past were much kinder to work for? I had no issues with them, only the middle-aged women. Very unfortunate, but now I work with two wonderful women, so life has balanced itself out in the work arena.
    As to world events, I think Sue said it well. I choose not to watch the news much because it stresses me out. Sometimes, I feel a sense of foreboding, uncertainty of what’s next to come. So much to worry about, and yet, we can’t succumb to worry, especially when things are out of our control.
    Anyway, great post and much to ponder. Take care! ❤️

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Lauren!
      It can be very difficult when competitive or jealous energies come into play from our superiors. I am happy to hear you now have a healthy work environment. It makes a HUGE difference. There is an energy of uncertainty in the air but we can choose to focus on those energies that rejuvenate and replenish our souls.
      Thanks for your comment.
      Many Blessings
      Lisa xoxo

      Liked by 2 people

  3. It saddens me how this type of personality is often rewarded or encouraged at work. In my experiences, people who have or step into positions of power do tend to display these awful colors. Some are very keen on using the so called flying monkeys and those who are targets are left with little to defend themselves. Thanks for bringing up such an important topic, Lisa. There are definitely signs and red flags we can learn about to dodge or manage this sort of situation ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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