Taking back power in an off-balance relationship

Have you given up all your power in your partnership? This is how you?re going to take it back.

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by: E.B. Johnson

Our partnerships are complex and dynamic, and they come with a number of power roles than can be tricky to navigate and balance. When we lose sight of these roles, we can lose our place within them and then find ourselves giving up our own personal power within those partnerships. In order to build healthy and long-lasting relationships which thrive, we have to restore the balance and find our way back to power.

Stop giving away your personal power and start taking back what is rightfully yours within your relationship. Find your boundaries, set your limits and start communicating what you need candidly and honestly. Don?t settle for less than you deserve and stop allowing your partner to take advantage of you or hold the upper hand. We are each responsible for our own happiness. Become the author of your own story again and take that happiness for your own.

The power in partnerships.

Our relationships are defined by complex and dynamic power roles that shift and change with the different seasons of our partnerships. These roles can be defined and impacted by many things, but it is ultimately up to us ? as partners ? to determine what roles work for us, and what roles we are willing to portray. When neither party comes to the table with this understanding, however, it can lead to substantial imbalances of power that make it hard for us to thrive together.

?Giving up our power? occurs any time we allow a third-party to control, manipulate or otherwise influence the way we think, act, feel, behave or even decide. It can be both subtle and overt, but it always leads to imbalances and unhappiness on the sides of all parties involved.

Imbalanced relationships are not happy relationships, and they are not partnerships that are meant to survive in the long-term. We have to build lives with one another that are based on give and take. While that give and take might change and vary from time to time (dependent on need), both parties must always be focused on maintaining an equilibrium, while encouraging the other to see to their own needs. If you?ve given up your power, it?s not too late to take it back. You can start calling the shots in your own life again with a little know how.

Why we give up our power in relationships.

We don?t just wake up one day and decide to give away all our power to our partners. The process, more often than not, is a slow slide and one that is learned through our past relationships and childhood experiences. Overcoming our potential for giving ourselves away in love comes down to understanding why we do it. Once you know how you behave, you can make a plan to correct it.

Low self-worth

Those with low self-worth often fail to see the value and merit in their own authenticity. They don?t trust their own decisions, and they struggle with the idea of striking out on their own or taking responsibility for their happiness and unhappiness. When your self-confidence plummets, it can take away your ability to see the power dynamic shifting between you and your partner. We have to love and trust ourselves, to bravely embrace reality for what it is.

Societal pressure

The pressure of society can play an important role in the power dynamic we allow to be perpetuated in our partnerships. Though we don?t often consider it, there is a lot of societal pressure on us to conform to certain cultural expectations of relationships. These can rely on ideas of gender, but they can also rely on other erroneous factors like money or social standing. When you think society expects you to be part of an imbalanced partnership, you can find yourself building just that.


We don?t always choose to give our power away. Sometimes, we can find ourselves losing out to a partner who bullies, belittles or otherwise terrorizes us into giving our power up to them. They take power from us with threats and fear, but we further perpetuate this imbalance of power by sticking around when we know things aren?t right. Failing to stick up for our boundaries is a critical misstep, and one that lets abusers in.

History of trauma

If you?re someone who suffers from a past fraught with traumatic relationships ? you might have learned that equal partnerships don?t exist, or that not safe to ask for what you want. Those with childhood trauma, likewise, might have been taught skewed definitions of love, which cause them to attract toxic or abusive partners that rip power from them; long before they have a chance to give it away.

The many ways we give up power in partnerships.

Giving up your power can look vastly different according to the type of relationship you find yourself in. Some of us allow our partners to make major decisions, while others are bullied or otherwise terrorized into giving themselves up. These are the most common ways we give up and give in when it comes to our partners.

Never calling the shots

It?s not normal for our partners to make all the decisions, whether it?s where we eat, where we live, or even what we do in terms of career and family. When one person controls all the major (and minor) decisions in your life, you?ve given up your power and centralized all your values and morals in another person ? removing personal responsibility, and opportunities to thrive. If you never call the shots, then you aren?t dealing in your own personal power?and that?s a dangerous place to be.

Outwardly defined moods

Outwardly defined moods are a common sign that you?ve given up more of your personal power than you should have within your relationship. When your mood depends on their mood and how they feel or treat you on that given day, it?s hard to find stability, let alone joy in one another. You can?t find happiness when your own joy is determined by the changeable emotions of other people, who are just as confused and conflicted as you.

Giving in no matter what

Do you find that you?re always giving in to what your partner wants to do? Do you always say yes and do you always acquiesce and prioritize their needs over your own? This is a sign that you?ve sacrificed ground ? whether knowingly or unknowingly ? and allowed your partner to have more of the ?space? in the relationship than you. Giving in no matter what isn?t noble. It?s self-defeating and allowing ourselves to be defined by others.

Fluctuating self worth

Feel great about yourself one day? Terrible the next? When we rely on the assurances of others for our personal validation or self-worth, we often find ourselves swimming adrift, and feeling even worse than we imagined. It?s important that we learn to find that validation from within, rather than looking outward. Looking to others for the confidence and self-esteem you should determine yourself is giving up power and losing out on the chance to be happy on your own.

Inability to set boundaries

One of the most common signs that we?re giving up power in our partnerships lies in our ability (or inability) to set boundaries. If you are someone who finds themselves always rolling over for others, it becomes unnatural for you to do anything for yourself. Boundaries, however, are the lines by which we protect our needs and our desires, and one of the ways by which we establish happy relationships. The less you stick to your boundaries, the more people take away your power and take advantage of you.

Redefining yourself

If you define who you are and what you want on other people, you?ll find yourself constantly switching between the winds of change and the winds of favor. It?s impossible to determine what others truly want, and it?s impossible to make other people happy. We are each responsible for our own happiness in this life. When you change yourself to fit in with other people, or otherwise impress your partner, you lose out on realizing yourself. This might look like training for a career you have no desire to do, or committing to a family you didn?t want to build.

Settling for less

Settling for less is a subtle way of giving up your personal power, but it is a major sacrifice nonetheless. This happens when you know your partner is not what you want, but you stick around because you believe that?s what they want you to do. This is giving away not only your chance at independent happiness, but a chance to find real and lasting love that is returned in the way that suits you.

Unable to speak up or speak out

Unable to speak up or speak out for the things you want, or the way you feel? This is a sign that you don?t have the power to do so, or that you don?t think that it?s safe to do so. We have to speak our truths, and we have to express the way we feel in order to build stable, equitable and long lasting partnerships. If you can?t speak up for the things you want, it?s because you?ve lost a handle on the rightful part of that romantic power that has always been yours (or you?ve given it up through pressure, abuse, or misunderstanding).

Need for permission

When you are in a relationship, there is a new dynamic in which portions of your independence that come under reflection of your partner. This is not to say that they have a right to tell you what to do, but it does mean that we (as partners) have a responsibility to consider their feelings as well as our own when making decisions. If that power to make decisions for your own life has been taken, it means you?ve given it to your partner. You might be allowing them to call the shots for you across a number of planes, or handing over the reigns through pressure and intimidation .

The consequences of giving up too much.

There?s a great cost to giving up our power to our partners. From a loss of self, to disintegrating relationships, if we want stable and equitable partnerships we have to understand where the pitfalls lie.

Loss of self

When you lose yourself, you no longer know who you are and what you want from life. This leads to major identity obstacles, as well as disillusionment, disappointment and even resentment when you get right down to it. The longer you allow yourself to be ruled by others, the more detached and lost you will become. It is when we are lost that we find ourselves intolerable. You have to know who you are in order to love who you are.

Superficial relationships

Partnerships that are one-sided or otherwise dominated by a single partner are never happy, and rarely have the ability towithstand the obstacle of time. That?s because these relationships are superficial and borderline parasitic, relying entirely on the efforts of one person in order to operate. There is no mutual cooperation, and therefore no mutual respect or depth. Over time, facades break down, and contempt becomes king as both partners realize there?s nothing they recognize in the other person anymore.

Missed opportunities

Our lives come with a finite amount of space. Over time, we make choices on what to fill that space with, and who we share it with. The more we fill it with junk and baggage ? the more we fill it with people who don?t truly love us ? the less room we leave for positive experiences and true love to come in. Giving up power is giving up space. It?s missed opportunities. If you?re waiting on a transformative experience in love, you have to be proactive about protecting that space for the right people and experiences.

All the wrong things

Perhaps the biggest consequence of sacrificing yourself comes down to committing to all the wrong things. Imagine youself 40?50 years from this moment. Imagine you?re sitting on your death bed, or are looking at the end of your life. Now, imagine you?re looking back at a sea of someone else?s accomplishments. There?s nothing there for you; no glimmer of the things you wanted to tackle in this lifetime. While giving to others is important, contributing to our own experiences on this planet is important to. When you give up power, you give up the opportunity to live your own life.

How to stop giving up your power in relationships.

You don?t have to give away your power forever. Even if an inequitable relationship is all you?ve ever known, you can learn to stand up for the things that you want by utilizing these techniques.

1. Become the author of your own story

In order to take back your power, you have to become the author of your own story. This means taking away the right of others to call the shots in your life, and it means stepping out into the unknown (perhaps for the first time). When we become the authors of our own stories, we take responsibility for what we want, and what results from it. It?s letting go of your need to be validated by others, and finding validation in your own journey.

Start taking small, actionable steps to take back control of your life. Every day, choose at least 3 things entirely on your own, and venture out on your own ? even if that only consists of a short 15-minute walk, or a bubble bath alone in the other room.

The more comfortable you get on your own, the more comfortable you will get with calling the shots in your own life. When you embrace the strength and power of your solitary self, you uncover the realization that you are the only one who has the right to validate your joy and your successes. Let go of your need to rely on others for the hard things. Stop letting your partner have control simply because they want it. Take charge of your own life and your own story. Write the ending that you want and make a plan to get there.

2. Fight for your boundaries

Our boundaries are the critical lay-lines by which we define our happiness and direct the course of our lives. They are directly aligned with our values, as well as our self-esteem and the things we desire. Boundaries are critical, but they are often the first thing we sacrifice when it comes to giving up our power or sacrificing ourselves on the altar of our partner?s happiness and fulfillment.

Wage war for your boundary lines ? both with yourself, and within your relationship (if needed). Don?t accept excuses and don?t allow your needs and desires to be pushed to the back seat anymore. It doesn?t matter how much money you make, or what your ?roles? might be. We?re all deserving of respect, and we all deserve to hold our limits fast.

Communicate your needs and desires honestly and openly. Stop holding back out of fear that what you need might infringe on what someone else wants. Stop hiding parts of yourself out of fear that the other person will run. Live in your truth and fight for your own fulfillment. There is no purpose in sacrificing yourself for others, if you don?t also get the chance to grow, learn and pursue your passions along the way. Fight for your boundaries, and let them be the line that guides you.

3. Increase your self-confidence

Low self-esteem is toxic and permeates through every aspect of our lives with the rapidity of a poison. When you have a low opinion of self, it impacts the way you see your relationships and the way you see your partners too. The less you think of yourself, the more likely you are to sacrifice your power and give up on your needs. If you want to find your personal strength again, you?ve got boost your self-esteem.

Stop allowing yourself to be torn down. Stop tearing yourself down from the inside out. Realize and embrace the power of self-worth and then increase your own ? by celebrating your strengths and accepting your weaknesses and shortcomings for what they are (and the lessons they offer).

Confront the pain and trauma of your past and stop allowing it to shackle you to the idea that you are not worthy of the love and happiness you have a right to. Look at all the pain and all the hardship you?ve overcome. You are strong enough to decide for yourself where your happiness lies, and in which ways you pursue it. Stop defining yourself by the terms of others and know that you are good enough ? exactly as you are.

4. Stop wasting time

We give our power away most commonly by expending our energy in the pursuit of what other people want. This means going after the careers we think our partners want (or would respect) and doing things for them, rather than for ourselves. While this might increase their feelings of happiness, it will do little to increase the quality of your experience within it. You have to stop giving your power up to the journey of other people.

Stop wasting your time and your energy on accomplishing other people?s dreams. We only have a limited time on this planet. Use it by doing the things that provide you with the joy and the fulfillment needed to make the ride worthwhile. Help others where you can, but don?t spend your life in the service of those who don?t have the same love for you.

Get proactive about building your own life and stop building lives for others. We are only as good as the energy that we can put into the world around us. Care for yourself, and stop sacrificing your time and your energy on the altar of those who would only see the world made in their own image. We were meant to thrive. You were meant to thrive. Allow all that beauty and acceptance to come through the door, and watch as it transforms your life right before your very eyes.

5. Remove your victim status

Once you know where your boundary lines lie, and you?re determined to write your own story ? you have to remove your victim status and stop letting yourself be scared and intimidated into giving up on your needs. We are only victimized as far as we allow ourselves to be. Once we know there is a problem, it?s our responsibility to correct it, or get ourselves out. Stop waiting for the other person to change, or change the way they treat you. Remove your victim status and become a hero to yourself.

Remove your victim status, and become the hero of your own story. Stop rolling over and stop imagining you?re someone that has to give in to others. There is no rule written that says you don?t have the right to go after the things you want. Pursue them with the full fervor of your heart and stop letting guilt and erroneoussense of shame prevent from reaching your full potential.

No one makes us a victim. We victimize ourselves when we stay in situations and with people who take from us more than they give to us. Make your self-worth independent of the opinions of others. Stop giving up your power for nothing more than the superficial validation of other people. We are each on our own journey, and we are each responsible for our own happiness. Remove your victim status and step up to the plate for your own future life of joy.

Putting it all together?

Relationships can be a tricky thing to navigate, and that?s especially true when it comes to the complex power dynamics that often dictate the way we bond and relate to our partner. It?s easy to give up too much power, especially when it comes to low self-esteem, societal pressures and control or manipulation from an abusive partner. If you want to find your way back to joy, you have to learn how to take your power back in your partnership; something which requires you to dig deep and commit to a transformative (and sometimes uncomfortable) journey.

P2 Become the author of your own story again. Stop rolling over and sacrificing everything you need for the desires of someone else. We are each responsible for our own happiness, and we find that happiness by establishing boundaries and sticking to them. Communicate your needs honestly and openly and increase your self-confidence as well as the knowledge that you are strong enough to do anything you want. Don?t waste chasing the joy of others. Let your partner be the master of their own journey, and you become the captain of your own. Find joy. Chase your passions. Rediscover who you are, and through that take back your power. We make ourselves victims when we give up our authenticity to others. Remove your victimhood and become the hero of the story?just as you were always meant to be.

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