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

7 Relationship Warning Signs to be Aware Of

7 relationship warning signs to be aware of

There have been numerous people in my life who have acted abusively. They have prevented relationships from continuing, controlled finances, hurt people I love and myself. It has been a long time since I have lived with a person who acted like this. As a result of these past experiences and my personality, I have no filter around this type of behavior when I witness it. Today, I am left out of relationships because of my speaking out about other’s control.

I write this blog in the hopes some one will read it and either prevent themselves from being abused or leave an abusive situation. Although, it does hurt to be excluded, I have a much happier life than I could ever imagine. Life does get better when you create distance between yourself and this type of behavior.

Relationship Imperfection

No one has the perfect relationship. It is through our connections with others we heal emotional wounds and grow spiritually. There are certain warning signs to be aware of in relationships that cross the line into unhealthy interactions. Trust what your body is telling you when your mind is confused. If the relationship you are in leaves you feeling exhausted, confused, helpless, hopeless, overwhelmed, angry or anxious on a regular basis, seek out support. Whether you begin with a licensed psychotherapist or a trusted confidante, find someone who is comfortable, safe and stable to share your experiences with.

It’s all roses

Every new relationship goes through a honeymoon phase, where everything feels wonderful. Oxytocin, the cuddle hormone is flowing. You feel seen, loved and acknowledged. As in all phases, this too must end. In a healthy relationship, there is a period of adjustment in which you accept the other person’s perceived flaws. In an unhealthy relationship, the partner sees these human imperfections and attempts to change you into who he or she wants.

Some of the warning signs:

1. Isolation– Your partner wants to be the center of your world. You are told specifically or it is implied to not have relationships with certain people.

2. No boundaries or space- Your partner takes up all or a majority of your time. He or she decides where you will go and who you will hang out with. When you spend time with others without your partner, you receive numerous texts, calls and messages from them. They say it is because they love you but it is a way to keep tabs on you, as a reminder of their presence.

3. You don’t engage in your hobbies or interests- Your partner decides which activities are important, not what is important to you. He or she discourages any event, unless they are a part of it.

4. The put downs- You are criticized on everything from how you look, to how you think and do things. Pretty soon you question your own judgment and abilities. This self esteem damage leads to learned helplessness where a person feels he or she can’t leave the relationship.

5. They make you dependent upon them- This can be done through controlling your finances or you depend upon them physically to take care of you. Some people create a psychological dependency in which you need to ask their permission to do anything.

6. Threats- Be aware of emotional manipulations such as; If you don’t_________, I will __________.  When there is an increase in arguments and conflict, abuse quickly escalates. Just one past instance of violence, sexually or physically, can give you the feeling you need to walk on eggshells. Remember, one instance of physical, sexual or emotional violence is not okay, ever.

7. You are love bombed again and again. After a period of abuse there is a return to a honeymoon phase. You will hear apologies and promises, yet nothing changes. This time you want to believe it will be better and different because this is the part of the relationship you love. The problem is, this stage does not last and soon it returns to more abuse.

☎️There is hope and there is help. If you are in an abusive relationship:

The National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7/365 at 1-800-799-7233  

National Sexual Assault Hotline   1-800-656-4673

National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline 1-866-331-9474 or 1-866-331-8453 (TTY)

National Center on Elder Abuse

Other blogs with similar topics:

How to Stop Being Controlled and Get Empowered

Why Narcissists Overreact When They Don’t Get Their Way

How to Recognize Manipulation & Protect Your Energy

How to Successfully Deal with Passive Aggressive Behavior

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is the Amazon bestselling author of Setting Ethical Limits: For Caring and Competent Professionals. Lisa is a licensed psychotherapist, who has created a unique program to help compassionate people, who get emotionally, physically and spiritually drained; rejuvenate and protect their energies. Get her FREE Gift 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now! 

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How to Stop Being Controlled & Get Empowered

How to Stop Being Controlled & Get Empowered

At some point in your life, you have felt controlled by another person or event. Growing up, I witnessed some people passively going along with the controlling actions of others. I knew it could be different. I tried to change the situation, which left me exhausted, upset and reactive. I did what many well-meaning helpers do; I tried to control the control. As you guessed it, it did not help at all.

As I grew into mid-life, I learned how to detach and speak up for myself with assertiveness training. This doesn’t mean I let go perfectly. I have moments of stress, anger and fear. The difference is I visit these emotional states but I do not live in them. I do not allow a controlling person or situation to take up space in my head for too long. You can learn how to live in peace and happiness, despite what others do or do not do.

Are you victorious or a victim?

The decision to be controlled lies within each one of us, you can choose to be victorious or a victim. In the most dire of situations; prison camps, slavery, illness, politics, natural disasters, abuse etc. people have chosen to keep their thoughts positive and hopeful. No matter what situation you are facing, you can learn how to let go of controlling behaviors.

How to Stand in Your Power:

“Don’t put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket – keep it in your own.”- Elizabeth Gilbert (Author; Eat, Pray, Love)

1.) Avoid Reacting. The controlling person wants a reaction, do not give her one. She is trying to get into your head and have the upper hand. You cannot control what another person does, but you can choose your response. To be truly empowered is to learn how to stand, breath and pause when you feel triggered (angry, depressed, guilty, scared or upset). Become neutral, like Spock from Star Trek.

2.) Have Empathy for the Person. Their behavior is not personal. It comes from a deep feeling of insecurity and low self-esteem. People who act controlling may look confident, yet they have a lot of fear. Remember: Understanding them does not excuse unacceptable behavior.

3.) Know Your Boundaries. You deserve to be treated respectfully.  Here is a Personal Bill of Rights from The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook. I highly recommend this book if you struggle with anxiety dealing with the world or in relationship with others.

  1. I have the right to ask for what I want.
  2. I have the right to say no to requests or demands I can’t meet.
  3. I have the right to express all of my feelings, positive or negative.
  4. I have the right to change my mind.
  5. I have the right to make mistakes and not have to be perfect.
  6. I have the right to follow my own standards.
  7. I have the right to say no to anything when I feel I am not ready, it is unsafe, or it violates my values.
  8. I have the right to determine my own priorities.
  9. I have the right not to be responsible for others’ behavior, actions, feelings, or problems.
  10. I have the right to expect honesty from others.
  11. I have the right to be angry at someone I love.
  12. I have the right to be uniquely myself.
  13. I have the right to feel scared and say “I’m scared.”
  14. I have the right to say “I don’t know.”
  15. I have the right not to give excuses or reasons for my behavior.
  16. I have the right to make decisions based on my feelings.
  17. I have the right to my own needs for personal space and time.
  18. I have the right to be playful and frivolous.
  19. I have the right to be healthier than those around me.
  20. I have the right to be in a non-abusive environment.
  21. I have the right to make friends and be comfortable around people.
  22. I have the right to change and grow.
  23. I have the right to have my needs and wants respected by others.
  24. I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
  25. I have the right to be happy.

4.) Be Clear About Your Limits. Those who control want you to get accustomed to their expectations and way of living, rather than they become flexible by giving and receiving. Where are you going to draw the line? You have the power to decide what behavior is acceptable and unacceptable to you.

5.) Limit Your Time with Them. You need to protect your energy. Make an honest assessment and take a hard look at your life. What is your need to stay or be around this type of energy? Take steps to be around this person less and less.

Remember:

“No one can control you without your consent.”- Walt Disney (Co-founder; The Walt Disney Company)

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach. She specializes in working with professionals who often get drained from their helping efforts, recharge and rejuvenate their energy. Pick up her FREE 10 page E-book 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now!  

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You may also be interested in Lisa’s MP3 meditation Renew and Heal: Releasing the Chaos Meditation. 

Renew & Heal Meditation-Releasing the Chaos

Are you making up stories? Anxiety’s influence on the mind

We all subconsciously make up stories that are not even true about other people and ourselves. Sounds outrageous, right?  Even though you may be disagreeing with me right now, I hope you will sit tight and read on.

How does such a thing happen to educated spiritually minded people? When a person feels stressed out the brain releases hormones, such as adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine. These hormones encourage anxious irrational thoughts to develop. Ever heard of the term, jumping to conclusions?

Your brain also does not like a vacuum. When facts are missing, it fills in the blanks. The problem is when you assume a negative intent is happening when in fact it is not or you take it in the opposite direction making a situation more positive than it actually is. Where does the brain get this extra information? It goes to your past experiences vault and picks a memory with a positive or negative association.

The risks of reacting

The problem with reacting to negative thoughts and stories is it isolates you and keeps good people at a distance when you are incorrect. When you assume the worse in people, you lose your trust in yourself and others who have good intentions. Slow your roll, and assess the truth of what is going on before moving forward. You could be right, yet you could be wrong.

On the other side of the coin, you may be too trusting. Seeing the world through rose-colored glasses sets you up for a big fall when reality hits because no one and nothing is perfect. Empaths get stuck in this one when they imagine a person who has hurt them did not mean what they did or said. Being in denial put you at risk from people who act abusive to you.

Assuming the worst

Recently, I had a conversation with a person who did not want to hear my “no” to her request. I became like a robot saying multiple no’s again and again. The humorous part of it was that we were both stuck in this irritating moment. Finally, something kicked in and she moved onto someone else.

A couple of weeks later, I received a phone message from the same woman requesting to call her, yet she did not say why. As I listened to the recording I heard her demand to talk to me and said out loud in an angry voice, “I am not doing that.” Luckily, I chose not to respond in that moment. I recognized that I was triggered from our first exchange and every other person from my past who did not respect and honor my “no.” I let it go and listened to the message again the next day. Wouldn’t you know it, I heard it differently because she didn’t demand to talk to me like I thought she did.

Assuming more than what is

I have had experiences of verbal and emotional abuse from those I thought loved me. I built up in my head glorious stories of how kind and great they were. A part of this problem was they were narcissistic and I was uneducated about what that meant. These people had an exaggerated sense of self that I played into without questioning. They thought they were great and I absorbed that energy empathically, fully agreeing to it. When I was educated about these types of behaviors I still found I was susceptible to being manipulated at times. Many of us are, even the best of professionals, please do not feel bad when this happens to you. The goal is to pick up on the cues sooner than previous times in order to set your boundaries and protect your energies.

My wish is for everyone to see and hear clearly what is. 

There is no substitute for psychotherapy which is the best way to unravel the stories of our lives. I have developed some tips in the meantime to help you get out of this habit.

  • Practice the pause and use mindfulness 

The more you are under stress, the worse the stories become in either direction. In order to see reality more for what it is rather than a reflection of your past experiences, do not assign it any label. Watch and observe the behaviors of others. Mindfulness is about being in the present moment which means leaving your assumptions at the door. The truth about a person is revealed through time, be patient and see what develops before you fill in the blanks. When you catch yourself assuming, be kind with yourself. Understand that this is an indication that you need more stress management, awareness and self-care.

  • Use cognitive refuting (a fancy term for questioning your thoughts)

When you have a thought that feels irrational, don’t accept it, question it! Ask yourself the following;

Is this thought true?

Are these thoughts based on fear or love?

What is another possibility here?

Does this belief connect or disconnect me from others?

You may also enjoy this YouTube video on this subject: Your mind’s ability to tell a false story

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach who works for empathic healers and artists. She helps you recharge your depleted energies and increase your awareness and skills. Her thought-provoking sessions remove the blocks that help sensitive souls not only survive but shine!  Click here for your FREE 10 page E-book called 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now!