The delusion of Power-Over plays on the natural human need to feel safe – safe to protect self and family, safe to survive and thrive.
As a power dynamic, Power-Over exists when one person exerts control, influence, and authority over another within the belief that the one exerting control is of greater value than the person being controlled.
Thus, in the face of fear, scarcity, threat, and possible violence, when safety feels compromised, some stand strong in their capacity to defend while many feel incapable of successful defense. Gathering strength, status, and value as a defender, moving beyond defense, some will take the further step of using this gathered power to manipulate and force the challenged in a manner that is to the benefit of the defender and not necessarily to the benefit of the protected.
In this power exchange, the person exerting control is perceived as more worthy than the one who has accepted protection. This creates a divide, where US are better and THEM are less than.
Social, cultural, political, and religious behavior proceeds from this division, becoming embedded in the human psyche as natural. In its deepest entrenchment, Power-Over is not questioned because it is not recognized.
This division also further emphasizes the erroneous belief that personal choice is not to be trusted especially the self-choice exercised by those classified as weak, of lesser value, as other.
However, just as each person is inherently worthy, each person intrinsically has choice to exercise in each moment.
This is the paradox of Power-Over:
Personal choice is always possible.
We are equals; we complement one another.
To move past the pressure of Power-Over, the power dynamic shifts to Power-With where power is exchanged as equals no longer divided.
This is possible when self-choice is trusted.
This is an excerpt from my book, To Do Your Work.
The rest of this second chapter describes the Delusion of Power-Over through the power dynamics of Power-Over, Power-With, and Power-Within in more detail and covers the release path for this pressure point.