Who do I give authority over my life?

Post written by Orsolya Hernold

Authority means giving power or control to someone or something. As children, we all have the experience of feeling powerless, being vulnerable, at the mercy of our parents. This inequality is a necessity at this age, but we tend to carry on either the need to have an authority tell us what to do or the frustration resulting in rebelling against all authority. And there are many transitions between these two extremes, I have the combination of the two depending on the situation.

Due to an early childhood hospital experience, I pass over much too authority to doctors than I do with anybody else. I watched myself several times to subordinate, forgetting to pose my questions to get a full understanding of the situation. I am working on it, getting better at it with formulating my questions beforehand and concentrating on asking, but the feeling accompanying is still that of the vulnerable child.

In many areas of my life, I am a rebel. As one example, I defy any inequality between women and men, I even made a statement of leaving a university class where the teacher (an otherwise authoritarian person in my definition) was joking about women’s voting rights.

An authoritarian person or any form of authority can have a huge impact on our lives, so it is worth examining.

I recently experienced the other side of the coin: I led a training group where one of the participants sabotaged the exercises I gave to the group. This happened for the first time, so far I only worked with people willingly present at my trainings. It was frustrating and I did not handle the situation well – actually I did not handle it at all, I only pointed out to him that he was not doing what I asked him to do. Now I have ideas what I could have done – but my dismay blocked me from doing anything. I felt angry and frustrated – mostly because my ego was hurt that somebody refuses to try my training exercises, and my envisioned process was broken.

Looking back at this experience also served another purpose – now I know how a person in authority might feel when I rebel. I have more compassion – a virtue I like practicing especially in regard of my children.

Authority can be a bugaboo, an unidentified ball of feelings and concepts. Breaking it down and seeing its effects and necessities in our lives can change its haunting capabilities.


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