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

How to Recognize Emotional Abuse & Rise Above It

Emotional abuse can be difficult to identify. Unlike other forms of abuse, there are no physical wounds. It is subtle, making it difficult to pinpoint the problem. Since, there appears to be a lack of evidence, the person who acts abusively, often denies any type of trauma has taken place. This rejection of reality, can cause long lasting damage to a person’s self-esteem and mental health.

Similar to physical and sexual abuse, emotional abuse is cyclical. This means you will experience a period of emotional abuse followed by what “seems” like a normal relationship.

What is Emotional Abuse?

Emotional abuse is a way to control another person through the manipulation of communication or action. Some overt forms of abuse are criticism, rage or making threats. Others use covert forms of abuse such as withholding communication, money or love.

People who act emotionally abusive seek to dominate all aspects of the relationship. This can include making all of or changing up plans, telling you what you wear and who you spend your time with. They will demand respect and loyalty, yet show you none. It is their way or the highway.

I have experienced both overt and covert forms of emotional abuse from family members, a grade school teacher and people who I thought were friends. When you experience emotional abuse at an early age, you are more likely to experience it as an adult, until you heal the pattern. Here is what I have learned and what I teach others:

Why Empaths are Vulnerable to This Type of Abuse

Many empaths are born to care deeply and find themselves being raised in emotionally restrictive or explosive families. Since, there is a lack of healthy feelings being expressed, the empath becomes the feeler of all the feelings in the family system. You not only carry everyone’s emotions energetically but also feel responsible for them. Talk about exhaustion! Your reactions go into soothing and comforting others, while walking on eggshells. This also reinforces the faulty thought; since you feel other’s emotions, you are supposed to do something about them.

It is not your job to fix others. As children, many empaths, are told they have the power to make others happy by doing what they want. No one asks what makes the empath happy, not even themselves. This is how you get accustomed to others manipulating you, while you become the ultimate people pleaser, at any cost.

How to Rise Above It

Separate Yourself from Those Who Use Emotional Abuse: When someone tries to shame and guilt you, don’t take the bait. Know you deserve better. Spend less time with this person and if the person refuses to take responsibility for their actions, end the relationship.

Learn about the Various Kinds of Emotional Abuse: Education builds your awareness to identify overt and covert signs of abuse.

Step into Your Own Power: Apply empathy and healing to your own wounds. Spend time building your self-esteem and confidence.

Where do you give your power away? Those who act abusive often play on your needs or areas of vulnerability. This can include financial help, how much you value the idea of a relationship or experiencing a sense of belonging and approval.

Forgive yourself for not seeing or recognizing the early signs of abuse and for not knowing better at that time. Remember, this is the most difficult kind of abuse to identify and many people often miss the signs.

If you are struggling, remember you are not alone. Seek out psychotherapy to help you heal past patterns of abuse and find a safe way to leave a current abusive situation.

Lisa Hutchison LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist and writing coach who helps sensitive souls not just survive but shine. She 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; 8 Simple Things That Release Chaos from Your Life Now at http://www.lisahutchison.net