Powerlessness and its Effects

Have you ever wondered why one day something that was brewing for a long time comes to the surface and people get angry and up in arms at what they feel is a controlling of their life by others?  Being unable to control your own destiny and not being master of your own life escalates people’s feelings of resentment and frustration. When lives are infringed on by those who have power over how you live and how, by their actions and decisions, are in a position to make and bring negative and unjust change into lives, that is a huge problem.  That is powerlessness.

Powerlessness and not being in a position or being unable to make decisions about how to live causes untold distress and has devastating effects on people. We are witnessing the effects of powerlessness every day.  In recent times the strike at Dunnes Stores shows the anger and frustration of having little say over your life or working conditions and the upset caused by the actions of others. Being humiliated or your ego bruised and your pride hurt results in retaliation and revenge. Feeling that you have no control over life’s happenings leaves a feeling of powerlessness and hopelessness. Many of our citizens have that feeling today and say that their life is spiraling out of control, some with no way of slamming on the brakes on a runaway train.

Feeling powerless has implications for employers.  How workers perceive employers can determine their loyalty and output, can cause carelessness and lack of interest in their job. Powerlessness has an impact on all relationships where one person feels under the control of another and being unable to make their own decisions and choices. Powerlessness inflicts pain and suffering, damage our self-esteem and impact on the decisions we make. We see people going on strike because of work conditions or imposed changes in jobs,( like teachers) others angry that imposed taxes adds further misery in trying to pay more bills from a reduced income; the loss of jobs because of greed by big companies who move their businesses to a cheaper workforce elsewhere in the world;  Government  training our young people for jobs that do not exist and then see them emigrate: Banks taking a home from over the heads of young people that they had encouraged to take out unpayable mortgages in the first instance; people with disabilities left without services vital to their wellbeing;  those on low incomes or on Social Welfare seeing their weekly incomes further reduced. These are all decisions not made by the ordinary person, but by those in powerful positions and impact on how people feel and live, especially those who are in a weak and powerless position to affect change.

You may feel powerless because of what happened during the recession, have a controlling spouse, job insecurity or the ordinariness of a lackluster job or being in an unhappy relationship with either family, friends,  bosses, or coming from a disadvantaged background. At the end of the day, the only opinion that matters is your own and there is a massive difference between feeling powerless and actually being powerless.

Becoming powerless is a gradual process and most people sleepwalk into the feeling.  Becoming powerless does not happen in one single dramatic stroke, it usually happens bit by bit. When you feel you are under the control of others at the expense of your own well-being or must bow to the opinions or decisions that others make, that is when you decide that you do not have control over how you live your life. You may think that by sitting quietly and doing nothing only accepting your fate and allow others to run roughshod over your needs and opinions, that you have no options, that is when you reduce your self-esteem and self-belief and get the feeling that you are powerless to make any changes.

Once you start chipping away at your self- worth you are on the way to being a victim. If you start worrying about your position in life it makes you more vulnerable and allows powerlessness to grow even bigger. Victims become enablers because they tolerate and accept what other people decide.  The sense of being devoid of power makes people resentful and encourages people to react in ways that disrupt normal living. (For example the Water protests, or the strike of bus services, lack of hospital beds etc.) The failures of Services and Systems to address people’s needs in life escalate and have enormous consequences,  especially when people remain in prolonged dependency and the control of their own lives being fraught with barriers and challenges.

New research shows that lack of power doesn’t just make people disgruntled and unhappy,  it affects their mental health and their ability to perform everyday tasks. This in turn adds a further burden and further proof that they are not in control.  Power is not a force to get your own way. It is not about money, status, possessions or any other material goods. The world over, there are people with the trappings of wealth and status, yet feel more powerless than the average ordinary person. This is because they have lost confidence and self-belief in the way life is panning out for them.

Powerlessness gives feelings of just surviving, not living, and that is an unacceptable way for anyone to live life. You need to remember there are always options. They may be difficult, but they are there.

The issue of power is within oneself and your thinking, and if negative sits uneasily with people.  We are all human and we do not all mature automatically. The world is filled with people stuck in childhood or adolescence no matter what age they are. Adulthood and maturity is an achievement, one that requires and results in personal power and positive thinking. This could take decades for some but it starts with the vision of the “core self”. To have a core self is to be master of your own destiny, it is the exact opposite of being a “victim” who live their lives being subservient to others and having no values of their own. The fact is we all desire more and better things for ourselves.  We all strive for happiness, truth, duty, virtue, reverence, appreciation, love, respect and peace of mind. Any life filled with anger, resentments, violence, fear, intolerance, or addiction will bring powerlessness to lives regardless as to how they live or what their position.

There is a massive difference between feeling powerless and actually being powerless.  Remember at the end of the day the only opinion that matters is your own and the decisions you make about how you want to live your life.

Empowerment is the new buzz word, it highlights the fact that all people possess strengths on which they can build. We all need empowerment in controlling our own personal lives, being able to use and utilize resources and strategies to bring about self-belief and strengthen our self-esteem. We need to realise that when we feel powerless we need to change our thinking and our perception of what we accept. Standing up and being counted for what you believe in eliminates powerless feelings and gives courage and strength to better life and make changes that will bring happiness and a feeling that we are in control and are the masters of our own destiny regardless of the decisions the powerful and those in leadership make.