Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So are most other qualities – it all depends on the perspective you are holding.
Our research for The Four Archetypes of Power has found that, for the quality labelled as “controlling,” this is especially true if you spend a lot of time in The Victim archetype. This character in our personality is much more likely to perceive power as controlling, and to behave defensively. Victims see themselves as separate from others, and are less able to acknowledge other perspectives or to manage their own emotions.
For one who at times identifies with pop culture characters such as Spock and Sherlock, this has been an important finding. My logical brain, particularly when under stress, has little patience with dysfunctional or unethical ways of doing things. My Virgo nature demands perfection. My elevated view of my own intelligence thinks I always know best. However, my kind and compassionate heart aches at the thought of harming anyone.
The benefits accrued from mindful activities allow me to admit to my natural tendencies with no sense of shame. I am human, after all. And so I take on practices to keep my heart in balance with my brain when it wants to dominate. I observe the impact of my actions both on myself and on others.
Understanding the interplay of the archetypes of power offers opportunities to develop the qualities of The Advocate (which is the most powerful archetype AND has the best experience of life). Interacting with a Victim can be a strong trigger for other archetypes, with its defensive and passive aggressive actions. Reacting to these triggers are the source of the Victim's power, based on a form of manipulation that disempowers others for their own gain.
By recognizing the perceptions that fuel many Victim behaviors, we can act with more emotional intelligence in our responses. We can choose to develop skills in patience, kindness and compassion to allow connection rather than the separation that results from reacting defensively.
Following is an exercise to help build your own inner Advocate through self-awareness. Practicing it will also lessen the reactive triggers that come from interacting with or being a Victim.
Dedicate a journal to be your own personal research project into your triggers. Book 15 minutes on your calendar at least 3 times a week to make entries. The activity is most successful if you meditate for a brief period before journaling.
During each “data entry” session:
Describe a recent interaction where you walked away less than satisfied with the outcome. You may have been dissatisfied with how you responded, or may have come away with a vague sense of unease, anger or shame.
Begin by describing the situation in high-level terms. Gradually describe more specifics, such as points of discussion and actual dialogue.
First, focus solely on your own actions and words. Then go back and enhance with any bodily sensations or emotions that you experienced throughout the interaction.
Next, describe what you observed in the other person in the interaction. At first, write down everything that occurs to you. Again, enhance with any bodily sensations or emotions that you experienced. Then go back and take out the emotional statements, converting them into observations solely of the other’s words and behavior.
Once those steps are complete, go back and label each statement about you and about the other person as a 1) rationalization or 2) projection or 3) observation.
When you reach ten journal entries, go back through all and compile a list of the labeled statements. You may be surprised at what you learn.
Self-knowledge leads to self-acceptance and then to self-mastery – all qualities of The Advocate. Ultimately, this enables us to maximize our personal power. It allows us to stay centered and connected in the face of the disempowering actions of others.
While at first glance it may seem obvious how to respond to a “controller,” the most powerful option lies in looking within. Our own perceptions and behaviors may be creating an alien, instead of allowing common ground and the connection that makes us all stronger.