People who abuse their power over others tend to be depicted as the evil villains in the news. Catching them in the act of manipulating us or getting away with injustice are full-time jobs for journalists. When you’ve been exposed to obscene displays of power, it’s easy to think, “I will never, ever, be like that.” Maybe you had a tyrannical father, or an awful dictator boss who made your life hell. You want to be fair, just, and harmless to others, conducting yourself with an earnest will of good faith and valuing equality above all else.
Until the betrayal happens.
- The date who led you on and ghosted after you treated them to a fancy dinner.
- Your friend who always seems to need your shoulder to cry on, never returns the support, and you’re fed up.
- Your co-worker-who is really good at flattering the boss but takes the credit for most of the work that you do- just got the promotion and you did not.
- Your social justice non-profit that fights on behalf of marginalized populations, just laid your manager off with no warning or explanation.
These are situations that took you by surprise, blindsided you, and left you boiling with anger. You started to protect yourself from others, deeming entire groups of people unsafe, becoming jaded and disillusioned by the world. Sound familiar?
This is what the game of power looks like, the chess board of human interactions. You may think you don’t want to play, but you already are. We all are, since the day our parents told us, “Not under our roof” and we started plotting the road to independence. You want control over your autonomy, and therefore you have to gain power over the people who can give you that autonomy.
It takes some people a very long time to realize the game of power and their role in it, while for others they grew up overly aware. At some point, repetitive life experiences of failure and rejection will force you reckon with a world where you are entitled to nothing.
Pent up aggression results from losing the game too many times, and you will explode at some point when you're not being vigilant. But rather than continue to see your anger as your enemy, you can become good friends with it.
Does this mean you will become an outwardly diabolical monster? Nah. Quite the opposite, you will become a better person, in control of your emotions and need to act out harmful wishes against yourself or others. Your abilities of interpreting the actions and words of other people will improve and you won't be as quick to react impulsively.
The logic is simple: when you stop demanding others to act the way you want them to, resentment disappears.
In life, you don’t have to be the sore loser. Learn how to play the game.