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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-win solutions and  adult co-operation.

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-react when this happens, as it does about a hundred times a day.

Different kinds of power

Reward-penalty 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-penalty power’.

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 .

Expert power

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 fact, any group elder (or someone who has been a member far longer than anyone else) is often consulted by those with less experience. The senior person is seen as a ‘point of reference’, allowing them to wield more power in addition to any other powers they  might have.

Shared power

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-ups the other holidays. By common agreement each person holds decision making power over other in some particular areas, but not all aspects.

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

Prepare and Protect yourself from other people who try to control you by Undermining and Unbalancing you, or trying to Manipulate you.

The next step is to look at how your real authentic self has been taken from you both now and in the past by other people who didn’t want you to enjoy the power of being the real authentic you.

One of the most common problems are people who try to Control you. Amongst the worst are the ones who “sling Control-MUD” to undermine you and disempower you. There are many different ways to protect yourself and also Prepare your self in advance before they get started.

Ask for my Free book on ways to handle Control-MUD or to find out more please

Go to sub-domain

What happened in your childhood or teens that prevented you becoming the real you?  What kind of ACEs, that’s Adverse Childhood Experiences did you have?  What is your ACE score?  

This section on Adverse Childhood experiences or ACEs includes a survey.

To find out more  click here

Ask for a free printable pdf copy of the ACE survey.

Some people seem to be obsessed not just with with controlling others, but actively putting them down, disempowering them. Preventing them from being real. Some who do this are full on narcissists,but many others just use narcissistic patterns. That can still cause lots of damage if you’re on the receiving end.

Ask for my free book on NBP (Narcissistic Behaviour Patterns)

Understand what's really going with Power and Control issues in your daily life, because those two factors are there all of the time.

If you don’t see them clearly all the time you can’t be real all the time.

Worse, without you noticing them, other people can be taking power and control from you and stealing your sense of being who you really are.