Feeling Powerless


Feeling PowerlessIt is easy to feel powerless when faced by large institutions that have so much power over us. Where we work, it is drummed into our heads that management makes all the decisions and we are meant to do what we are told. What can you do to influence things and gain some control over your destiny?

The key thing we need to do is control how we view our situation. Often we can't control our environment, but we can control how we respond to it.

Why We Feel Powerless

  • Organizational hierarchy can foster dependency, making us feel powerless.
  • Are you frustrated by your lack of career progress?
  • Do you feel driven by the demands of others? No rights of your own?
  • Feeling like you can't do anything about it except find a job with less pressure?
  • Do you feel like rebelling against those who have all the power?
  • Focusing on things we can't change can be self-defeating.
  • We say that THEY are to blame for how we feel. This is false. They might be able to make us do things, but no one can make us feel anything we don't want to feel.

We can always ask ourselves:

  • What can I do differently?
  • How can I reframe my situation?

Can you change how you react to things? Can you reframe how you see yourself and your role? Do you see yourself as an employee? Can you view yourself as running a business offering services to internal customers?

As a business, you sell services, devise new ones and seek new customers. If you have something valuable to sell, everything is negotiable. By re-framing your role, can you see having more power than you thought?

Your success is only limited by your creativity in marketing yourself, developing new services and cultivating new customers.

Once you see yourself in this way, it's clear who's in charge. You are running your own business, so your success is up to you. This does not give you more power than your customers but it could help you see them as partners rather than as all powerful tyrants. This might be scary, but it can also be liberating. Seeing how you can take action is a lot better than feeling powerless.

Powerlessness and Resentment

When we're unhappy in a situation and feel powerless to change it, we naturally feel resentment and frustration. These feelings generally cause us to blame others or our circumstances. Our natural preferences in these situations are either FIGHT or FLIGHT - but both can be self-defeating. In a frustrating job, flight means quitting and going somewhere else. An option is to think of your situation as a leadership opportunity - meaning an opportunity to influence how things work around you, to help make it better. Instead of complaining to your boss, have a frank talk with him or her about how you can make better use of your talent and experience in the organization. Try to convey the impression of being keen to do your best for the company, not that you are dissatisfied or frustrated.