LOVE & RESPECT

FROM POWER STRUGGLES TO EMPOWERMENT

 

We thrive in relationships when we feel respected, empowered, cherished, and appreciated with a freedom to be ourselves. A place to safely share our needs, desires, boundaries, and truths.

"AT THE ROOT OF EVERY CONFLICT AND POWER STRUGGLE ARE UNMET NEEDS."

Marshall B. Rosenberg

Image by Anthony Tran

UNBALANCED PARADIGM

No one wins when there's an imbalance of power within your relationship. Imbalance of power is from childhood when you were in a place of "power-over (parent)/power-under (child)." This chain-of-command also works well in school, work, or the military. However, in relationship it results in disconnection, unmet needs, stress, reactivity, resentment, disrespect, power struggles, blurry boundaries, and intimacy problems.

 

BALANCED POWER PARADIGM

We need to feel seen for who we really are in relationship, to feel valued, safe, appreciated, and respected as an equal. This empowering partnership naturally occurs when each partner takes:

  • 100% RESPONSIBILITY (POWER) to feel and process our own sensory experiences and emotions

  • 100% RESPONSIBILITY (POWER) to know our own needs, wants, limits

  • 100% RESPONSIBILITY (POWER) to communicate needs, wants, limits (with boundaries)

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"WE CARRY THE EXPERIENCE OF HAVING BEEN DEPENDENT CHILDREN. STEPPING INTO EQUALITY, WHERE BOTH PEOPLE HAVE ROOM TO EXPRESS THEIR NEEDS AND WANTS AND HAVE THE SUPPORT TO MEET THESE NEEDS, COULD BE SOMETHING WE'VE NEVER ACTUALLY SEEN OR EXPERIENCED BEFORE."

Julia Colwell, PhD

RESPONSIBILITY = POWER

BALANCED EMPOWERMENT

RESPONSIBILITY = EMPOWERED

It is easy to slip out of balance in any moment. If one person takes on MORE THAN 100% RESPONSIBILITY, they are in "power-over." If one takes LESS THAN 100% RESPONSIBILITY by BLAMING anything (thoughts, emotions, experience, behaviors, etc.) on their partner, boss, the weather, the news, even their own 'bad' habits, maladaptive stress-reactions, DRIFTS, moods, or disorders, they're sinking into "power-under."

DEFEND-OR-EXPLAIN = DISEMPOWERED

BLAMING is one way to disempower yourself. Another is stepping into DEFEND-OR-EXPLAIN MODE. This automatically puts you in "power-under" position. It happens so fast, you're likely unaware of it!

 

Observe how you feel next time you BLAME, DEFEND OR EXPLAIN. You'll likely feel small, powerless, cornered, victimized, frustrated, angry or anxious because you've fallen into "power-under" and your nervous system is activated as if you're literally "under" a threat/attack and powerless. 

Jumping on Box

"ANYTIME WE TAKE LESS THAN 100% POWER OR RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR OWN EMOTIONS AND EXPERIENCES, WE'RE IN THE VICTIM POSITION."

Julia Colwell, PhD

IMBALANCED POWER

THE KARPMAN DREADED DRAMA TRIANGLE (DDT) 

Without awareness, you may be stuck in the Triangle for months, years, or repeating in relationships... forever. Shifting from one role to another. Or you may get sucked into the Triangle vortex during conflict or as an attempt to avoid conflict. In fact, attempting to avoid conflict or guilt is the #1 reason we get stuck in the Triangle long-term. 

NO ONE WINS IN THE TRIANGLE. INEVITABLY, EVERYONE ENDS UP IN VICTIM ROLE. 

 

THE KEY IS KNOW WHEN YOU'RE FALLING INTO THE TRIANGLE AND LEARN TO STAY OUT OF IT.

Once you're in, it's near impossible to get out without awareness, as it triggers you into Reactive Brain - and a slew of DRIFTS and maladaptive stress-reactions and patterns - where you lose access to your Rational, Calm, Creative Brain, and your actual Self.

"Rescuing is an addiction that comes from an unconscious need to feel valued. After all, society always celebrates the Savior!"

Merja Sumiloff

 

UNDERSTANDING THE DRAMA TRIANGLE

"MOST RESCUERS [the classic codependent] ARE OFTEN ACTING OUT THEIR OWN UNMET NEED FROM THE PAST TO BE RESCUED AND PROTECTED. THEY UNCONSCIOUSLY PROJECT THIS NEED FROM UNHEALED CHILDHOOD WOUNDS."

Janae Weinhold, PhD, How to Break Free

POWER-OVER POSITION

VS POWER-UNDER POSITION

Business Colleagues

"POWER OVER" POSITION

This happens by default due to being or believing you're more responsible - whether it be with money, planning, organizing, making healthy choices, etc. This partner feels accustom to taking more than 100% RESPONSIBILITY. This caretaker-rescuer-hero role feels natural to you (it may have been your role in childhood). It offers a sense of comfort, control and safety.

 

Although unintentional, "power-over" erodes intimate relationships. It takes a lot of energy monitoring power-over someone else. A parent ensures safety for children. A boss manages employees. A sergeant commands privates. The parent, boss and sergeant don't get to relax into the flow and reciprocity of relationship. Nor do they enjoy feeling attractive, seen, valued, and understood for their authentic selves. 

SIGNS YOU'RE IN "POWER OVER"

  • May feel resentful

  • Feel over-responsible, exhausted, confused, anxious, burdened, serious, like the 'bad guy,' or parental

  • Tend to sound nurturing (caretaking) or aggressive (critical)

  • Try to 'save' partner from their emotions

  • Try to 'rescue' or control partner's behaviors

  • Analyze partner's words instead of taking at face value

  • Don't recall knowing or clearly stating your genuine needs, wants, or limits (boundaries

  • FAWN or FIGHT Stress Reactions and DRIFTS

"Boundaries give others a manual on how you expect to be treated and what you'll allow. Without boundaries, people won’t know how to act around you, and you'll be left feeling disrespected."

Henry Cloud, PhD

"POWER UNDER" POSITION

This is typically the partner who is accustom to taking less than 100% RESPONSIBILITY and naturally complies. Plus, it feels good being taken care of. Eventually, however, you can begin to feel powerless and controlled. Unaware of the fact that your inability to take 100% RESPONSIBILITY for feeling your emotions, and communicating your needs, wants, and limits is what got into this victim position to begin with, only leaves you susceptible to feeling resentful, angry, and more powerless. This can lead to perceived powerlessness in all aspects of life and depression.

Like any "power-under" position you didn't consciously choose, you're bound to retaliate with predictable, yet unconscious reactions: (1) passive-aggressive or distancing behaviors, (2) child-like compliance, (3) out-of-control rebellion, or (4) angry blaming and resenting (grappling to 'power-up' but perpetuating the "power-under" position even more).

SIGNS YOU'RE IN "POWER UNDER"

  • May feel resentful

  • Tend to sound defensive, apologetic

  • Feel the need to blame and explain 

  • Feel secretive, resistant or rebellious

  • View your partner as controlling or critical

  • Feel like you lost your freedom or yourself

  • Feel disempowered, disrespected, confused, pressured, enmeshed, or 'loss of self'

  • Don't recall knowing or clearly stating your genuine needs, wants, or limits (boundaries) yet expect others to know 

  • FREEZEFIGHT, FLIGHT Reactions and DRIFTS

IMPORTANT: We may flip back and forth between power-under and power-over roles. See the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT)

Boho Wedding Couple

"overwhelmed by their own sense of vulnerability, inadequacy or powerlessness, THEY don't take responsibility for themselves or their own power, and look for a Rescuer to take care of them."

Stephen Karpman, MD

 

STAYING OUT OF THE TRIANGLE

INTENT TO LEARN VS BLAME-DEFEND-EXPLAIN

Couple in Love

1 INTENT TO LEARN 

What if your partner insults you, blames you, or does something wrong? Your partner is not your parent, child, boss, or any chain-of-command, where you take responsibility for them. If a passionate, respectful relationship is what you want, then TAKE 100% RESPONSIBILITY over observing your inner world of thoughts and emotional experiences. Stay in your Self.

 

Have the INTENT TO LEARN (empowered) what you need, instead of joining in Drama Triangle to RESCUE-OR-PERSECUTE (power-over) or DEFEND-OR-EXPLAIN (power-under). How are their words and behaviors impacting you in the present moment? What are YOUR current wants, needs and limits? 

 

2 COMMUNICATE NEEDS, WANTS, LIMITS

As a child, asking directly for what you wanted may have been taboo due to familial and societal underlying beliefs in scarcity and deprivation - as if there's not enough love, joy, attention, praise, hugging or nurturing kindness to go around! As if you have to earn love and acceptance. So you were shamed, criticized or accused of being selfish for simply asking for what you needed and wanted (resulting in the Inner Critic). The same goes for having limits and boundaries. As an adult, it's imperative to realize your wants, needs, and limits, and clearly communicate your UNARGUABLE TRUTHS.

"power struggle collapses when you withdraw your energy from it... change your intention from wiNNing [or rescuing] to learning about yourself."

Gary Zukav

3 ALLOW PARTNER TO BE IN THE TRIANGLE

Allow your loved-one to have emotions, rather than 'rescue,' 'fix,' blame or criticize them. Let them 'fall' if they need to. It's hard to watch your loved-one spin around in the Triangle by themselves. Resist the urge to jump in and 'rescue' or 'criticize' them. See worksheet below: Responding to Loved-One's Emotions.

 

Remember, for a balanced, empowered relationship, we need to allow our partner to take:

  • 100% RESPONSIBILITY (POWER) to feel and process their own emotions without 'fixing' or 'criticizing' them

  • 100% RESPONSIBILITY (POWER) to know their needs, wants, limits without making assumptions or 'mind-reading' them

  • 100% RESPONSIBILITY (POWER) to communicate their needs, wants, limits without 'analyzing' them (respect their words at face value, even if you think their words are misguided or disordered) 

Image by Amirr Zolfaqari

"SYMPATHY FOR VICTIMS IS ALWAYS COUNTER-BALANCED BY AN EQUAL AND OPPOSITE FEELING OF RESENTMENT TOWARDS THEM."

Ben Elton

Image by Brett Jordan

4 OPENHEARTED LISTENING

Learn and practice Openhearted Listening. This is also how you can partner and negotiate the big issues in life. Trying to resolve past issues or current big issues when triggered into Reactive Brain, in a DRIFT, or in the Drama Triangle - trying to RESCUE-OR-PERSECUTE (power-over) or DEFEND-OR-EXPLAIN (power-under) - is going to continue to disappoint and cause more conflict. Openhearted Listening allows your nervous system to calm for connected conversations.

5 KEEP LEARNING AND PRACTICING

You're likely learning a lot of new information about yourself, relationships, communication, boundaries, emotional health skills, and more. If you're single, you may want to partner with a friend or family member to learn together. If you're in a relationship, it's ideal for you to learn together. Schedule time, perhaps once a week to sit down and talk about what you're learning.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE DRAMA TRIANGLE AND INNER HEALING

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"VICTIM CONSCIOUSNESS [perceived powerlessness] INVOlves A SET OF BELIEFS AND FEELINGS LEARNED IN YOUR FAMILY. IT'S 'WIRED' INTO YOU. ONCE YOU BECOME AWARE YOU CAN CHANGE THE BELIEFS THAT tRAP YOU IN VICTIM CONSCIOUSNESS."

Barry Weinhod, PhD

SIGNS YOU'RE EMPOWERED

BALANCED RELATIONSHIP

SIGNS YOU'RE "EMPOWERED"

  • Have Self-Leadership over your own Emotional Mind ('Inner Child') and feel confident processing your own emotions

  • Feel a sense of your needs, wants, and limits in each moment 

  • Understand how to communicate your needs, wants, and limits 

  • Have the INTENT TO LEARN by listening Openheartedly without doing anything to change or control others' experience

  • You're using Adaptive Stress-Responses instead of reactive

  • Realize your present experience and SHIFT Your DRIFTS

  • Allow others to have their own emotions and DRIFTS

  • Provide others with the time and space to process emotions

  • Feel present, empowered, self-aware and self-connected

  • Feel a sense of openness and vulnerability yet grounded and safe with Balanced Boundaries 

  • Enjoying a sense of ease and playfulness with yourself

  • Enjoying a sense of ease and playfulness within relationship

Running Partners

"codependency is the disorder of attempting to control aspects outside yourself that are uncontrollable. by doing so you forfeit your innate ability to be empowered to create the life you want."

Melanie Tonia Evans

WORKSHEETS AND INFORMATION

BALANCED POWER

100% RESPONSIBILITY

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SPEAKING YOUR

UNARGUABLE TRUTH

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NEEDS, WANTS, AND

LIMITS

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IDENTIFYING OUR

DRIFTS

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OPENHEARTED

LISTENING

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BOUNDARIES

SKILLS

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EMOTIONAL HEALTH

SKILLS

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dr margaret paul video on inner bonding journaling

 

If you are experiencing a crisis or an emergency dial 911 or Crisis Response at 602.222.9444

© 2020 Copyright Creating Your Balance LLC

Creating Your Balance LLC and information provided is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition.  It is not intended to substitute for the advice, treatment and/or diagnosis of a qualified licensed professional. Creating Your Balance LLC and information provided may not make any medical diagnoses, claims and/or substitute for your personal physician’s care.