Stop Letting Them Have Authority Over You

Jan 25, 2023

It is not uncommon to feel like you are less than, or unequal to, the people around you. In some cases, this can be a great thing. You’ve probably heard it said that there are benefits to being the least smart person in the room. By surrounding yourself with people who have accomplished more than you have, or who possess greater expertise in an area that you care about, you can learn from their wisdom and experience. But sometimes this dynamic seeps into other areas of life, and we wind up having feelings of inadequacy. Or we may bring unhelpful patterns and dynamics from relationships earlier in life, such as worry about being judged, ignored, or otherwise devalued and disregarded, into situations where those feelings can cause big problems.

You are entitled to your own beliefs, opinions, and choices. When you feel unequal to the people around you, or you value yourself as ‘less than’ they are, it sometimes arises that you hand over authority over what is yours to own and protect, to people who should not have any authority over you at all.

As adults, we are in charge of ourselves. Our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, desires, and choices are ours to discover, nurture, and take ownership of. People with healthy boundaries will respect this property that you own. But if you devalue your own personal qualities and attributes, your personal property, you will leave yourself vulnerable to getting walked all over, used, and disrespected by others. You will forfeit the agency and freedom that you should naturally have.

You are an adult. You no longer need to allow anyone to have parental authority over you. Not your spouse, not your friends, not your peers at work or in your community. Respecting someone, and even admiring qualities about them, does not mean that you should give up your adulthood and handover that authority to them.

What happens when we give authority to others:

This dynamic can impede a person from being able to express their beliefs and opinions in a number of ways. The person may experience feelings of inferiority or inadequacy, which can lead to a lack of self-confidence and a fear of speaking up or expressing themselves. Additionally, they may feel a sense of dependency on the other person, which can lead to a reluctance to disagree or challenge them.

The person may also experience a fear of rejection or abandonment, which can lead to a lack of assertiveness and difficulty in setting boundaries. This can again result in the person feeling unable to express their own needs, opinions, and feelings, and instead conforming to the views and expectations of the other person.

It can also lead to a person giving away their own personal agency and power to another person. The person may feel a need to please the other person, which can lead to a lack of autonomy and self-determination. This can result in the person feeling unable to make their own decisions, and instead relying on the other person to make decisions for them.

Handing over this authority will inevitably lead to feelings of powerlessness, which can make it difficult for an individual to assert themselves in their relationships, and those relationships will become imbalanced.

How to fix the problem:

Identify patterns in your relationships: One strategy for identifying this dynamic is to examine the patterns in your relationships. This can involve looking for similarities in the dynamics of different relationships, such as feeling a sense of dependency or inferiority, or experiencing difficulty in setting boundaries. Identifying these patterns can help to identify potential problems.

Examine your past relationships: This can involve looking at how past relationships, particularly those with parents and other authority figures, may have shaped the dynamics present in your current relationships. This can help to identify unresolved emotional issues that may be contributing to the issue.

Pay attention to your emotions: Paying attention to emotions can also be a helpful strategy in identifying transference dynamics. Transference dynamics can evoke strong emotions such as feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and dependency. By being aware of these emotions, one can identify when they might be experiencing transference dynamics.

Challenge the other person: In a conversation with someone that you like or respect, take the opportunity to productively disagree with that person. It could be something as innocuous as your opinion about chocolate (you love it, they don’t), or it could be about something that is going on in the world. You’re not looking to start a fight. Keep it respectful. Doing this when the opportunity arises will help you to stop worrying about feeling judged.

It will help you to “grow up,” because you will feel like you have a seat at the table with the adults.