The Power Drug
©2003 Gail Pursell Elliott

Power can act like a drug when it becomes an obsession with dominance and control.  Most of us have heard the expression “drunk with power.”  That is not an accidental phrase.  

All of us have as much personal power as we will ever need.  When we get an overload of power, we can feel a rush of exhilaration that puffs us up and feels like the one that accompanies alcohol or a controlled substance.  And similarly, when we are drunk with power our perspective and judgement become clouded.  We may make poor choices or get caught up in activities that are off balance, way out of our normal character.

Some of us know the limits of how much we can handle and stop before we get out of control.  That is maintaining our personal power and self-control. Some enjoy the rush that a power overload provides so much that they want to experience it over and over again.  And like other drugs, over time, more and more is required to get the same experience.  Without realizing it, some people become addicted.

Those with serious drug addictions become obsessed with the substance, and often will do almost anything to get a fix.  They begin to view their fellow human beings more as objects and opportunities to get another dose.  Dignity and respect for self and others becomes lost.  Some global power junkies are obviously addicted and horrify us with atrocities they commit upon others. Some become lured into the addiction through the gateway of political correctness or by championing a great cause. Some take the form of physical or emotional abusers.  Whether this emerges as bullying, mobbing, hazing, domestic abuse, workplace violence, isolating, excluding, judging someone as undesirable or as an object of curiosity because of their race, religion, nationality, preference, lifestyle, or simply not agreeing with one’s point of view is immaterial. 

It all springs from a common source.  People who buy into this form of power disassociate themselves from others as human beings and may gloat at the discomfort of others or engage in conduct that they delude themselves is justified.  Those who use manipulation, fear, vanity, admiration, competition, or a sense of belonging to dominate and control others become pushers as well as junkies.  We may become lured in by pushers, finding that as we become hooked on this subtle narcotic that the price to keep it coming from them becomes higher and higher.

Power is not evil or to be avoided.  It is one of the basic human needs.  When we feel in control of ourselves, our environment, and our lives, our need for power is fulfilled.  It is the excess of power that is the trap.  Similarly, loving and accepting ourselves as is is also a basic human need.  When we are in balance we can extend that to others.  Narcissism is the outcome of an overload.

In all cases, when one of our basic human needs becomes inflated to the point of either temporary “drunkenness” or a regular addiction, our view becomes distorted.  The checkpoint is to notice how we are treating others. 

  • Are we treating others as human beings with hopes, needs, dreams, desires, people who love them and people they love? 
  • Are we viewing them as objects to be used and discarded, opportunities to be taken advantage of, or obstacles to be overcome?
  • Are we reacting rather than responding? 
  • Are we justifying our behavior towards others based on their behavior towards us?
  • Are we giving our personal identity over to a situation and allowing ourselves to be sucked into a group mentality?

Everything that we do matters.  Everything that we think and say has impact.  We have more power than we can possibly imagine, and we continually influence and affect the people and the world around us.  The impact that we make leaves its mark on us too.

We can be sources of torment and torture or of healing and inspiration.  The choice is ours, yet when we become drunk with power or any other basic need, we can wind up treating not only others but ourselves without dignity and respect.

Operating from our own sense of personal dignity and self respect gives us the power to extend that to others, along with empathy, compassion, and wisdom.  When the ripples fan out from the pebbles of light or darkness we toss into the waters of the world, they ripple back towards us as well.

 Maintaining our personal power and true spiritual identity, knowing our limits and when to just say no to the power drug can help us leave the type of legacy on the world around us that is an expression of insight and awareness. Above all, it is being true to ourselves.

Have a Great Day and be good to yourself.  You deserve it!

©2000-2018 Gail Pursell Elliott All Rights Reserved.   Food For Thought is part of the Dignity and Respect mission of Innovations and is the intellectual property of Gail Pursell Elliott.  If you enjoyed this Food For Thought message, you may share it with people you know. Honor the copyright and forward this email in its entirety. Use of material from Food for Thought, reprinting or re-distribution in any form or for commercial use, including reproducing or displaying on your website or including in a newsletter, requires permission. 

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