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In every relationship, personal or impersonal, partnership or conditional, close or distant, there are background issues that are hard to escape. One of the most basic of these is the question of who controls each aspect of that relationship and how this affects each person’s vulnerability. This just happens to be one of the areas of constant worry for the inner selves.
Power can only be totally turned off when you are in the closest and safest of connections, such as intimate linkage. This is, of course, one of the reasons this kind of connection feels so good. It’s also why intimacy stops at the very moment that either partner starts even to think about power, control or vulnerability
Involvement by your inner selves is understandable, since feeling in control means feeling less vulnerable, that is if you agree with the common definition of ‘control’ as ‘making things happen’ or ‘getting things done’. To be more accurate, this definition needs to be extended to recognise that if someone has real control over a situation, whatever they intend to ‘get done’ is also done when and where and how and by whom they wanted it done.
This raises the question of who controls whom. This is significant because the selves are also vitally concerned with this issue. Some PYRO selves in particular want to be in control of others. Other PYRO selves are forever trying to deal with feeling controlled.
So power and control issues are often critical factors for PYRO selves trying to look after a relationship, at least until the aware adult can take over.
What is ‘power’?
Power is not quite the same as control, it is your ability to exercise control (if you want to) in a particular situation, your potential or capacity for solving a specific problem, for making things happen or getting things done to resolve that problem.
You can ‘have’ power without actually using it at the time, but you and others are aware of it. Power means you can take control if you choose to. It is only effective if you can apply it despite opposing forces or influences (such as computer breakdowns, weather or financial difficulties). If you fail to deal with these problems, your power as well as your control is reduced.
The kind of power each person has is also an important aspect of persuading, negotiating or bargaining between adults particularly in a partnership.
Why look at power and control issues?
One reason for looking at power and control is that the more you understand about them and the more accurately you can identify each kind and where it comes from, the better use you can make of it to gain cooperation and make effective decisions. But provided you use your own power in a fair, honest and positive way it’s a sensible approach for encouraging win-
The other reason is that it helps you to be aware of the ways others may be trying to use or abuse their power to control you. Simply put, that means you will be less likely to get triggered or over-
Different kinds of power
Most forms of power carry with them a capacity for meeting people’s needs and desires. One common source of power is the direct ability to hand out rewards and benefits. Money provides this kind of power since it offers an easy way of giving rewards. Punishment or penalty is simply using power in the opposite way by withholding rewards, thus making life less rewarding for someone, hence the term ‘reward-
Authority (or position) power
Authority power is based on official position in an organisation or rank in a system. Authority is the least personal of all powers so it has little place in personal relationships. However I am listing it here because your relationship will be affected by pressure applied by other people who have authority. It helps to know exactly the sort of power you are up against in these cases so you can identify the real problem .
Anyone skilled in a particular technique holds a special kind of power. You might have expertise in partnering, driving, writing, finance or romance, or a general reputation for being a valuable friend. Any skills, knowledge or expertise in short supply such as health training, or the ability to handle family finances, are also sources of expert power and control. Expert power can also be connected to more personal qualities, strength, charm, height or physical fitness. It plays a major part in deciding who controls what in a relationship.
Seniority or referent power
A grandparent -
In many adult relationships, more by friendly agreement rather than negotiation, specific areas of power can be allocated to one person who might for example control the household budget. The other partner is given more power to settle disputes between children (‘ask your father’). One organises household clean-
To work well, this requires strong grown up boundaries and high self esteem. If the selves get involved, shared power systems usually collapse.
Power and control issues
Persuasion, pressure and manipulation in relationships
|Introduction to Being the Real Me|
|Getting Real step by step|
|Define yourself - How?|
|Winning the Struggle - Stories|
|Signs of not being Real|
|Create your own Boundary System|
|Six Key Life Skills|
|Personal and Impersonal Styles|
|Power and Control|
|You Doing You Being and You Having|
|Vulnerability is Real|
|Unique One-off individual|
|Power and Control|
|Being vs Doing|
|Make things happen|
|Narcissistic Behaviour Patterns|
|Real feelings and Emotions|
|Not real feelings|
|Core Belief Balancing|