Authority issues arise in two distinct situations: when a person or institution has power and authority over another, and/or when I am the person with authority. In general, modern psychology has struggled to effectively deal with this pervasive issue. And yet, it is at the bottom of most relationship conflicts in our society. In psychotherapy situations, couples often come in stating that they have power struggles or that their partner is a control freak! For the purpose of this blog, we will focus on this aspect of authority as it relates to working with couples.
Authority Issues Eminate from Our family of Origin
Our authority issues generally are the result of being immersed in power struggles within our family environment. These power struggles often originated in our families between Mom and Dad, between parents and grandparents, or between siblings. One common set-up for power struggles within the family structure is children being raised by older siblings who are left to their own devices to make and enforce the rules. The so-called adult child often resents having to care for younger siblings and may become abusive behind the backs of the incompetent, alcoholic or overly stressed parents. The younger children often grow up with deep resentments and confusion toward their older siblings who often misused the power they were given, even to the point of severe abuse perpetrated on the younger ones (sibling abuse).
Authority Issues from Undermining Another Authority
Another devastating form of authority issues results when one authority (parent) undermines another, especially in front of the children or even directly to the children. One common scenario is when one parent would go behind the other’s back to change rules, or would wink at the children to indicate “you don’t really have to do what he/she says.” This wink communicates collusion and teaches children not to respect the authority of the other parent. Another example is one parent who uses put downs or shaming of the other parent who was supposed to be in charge of the children. Another common situation results when other relatives, such as grandparents, break the rules that the parents have set for the children. This clearly undermines the family power structure and teaches children not to respect authority. One parent may go behind the back of the other parent, recruiting the child to adopt his or her judgments about the other parent: “He’s so weak” or “She’s crazy” or “Don’t believe a word she says.” This teaches children to disrespect authority and teaches a destructive family pattern called “Let’s You and Him Fight” (Eric Berne, Games People Play).
Healing Through the Subconsious Mind
These deeply embedded power struggles, learned so subtly during our formative years, follow us throughout our relationships in school with teachers and friends, throughout our dating years and then of course into our own families. Hypnotherapy is most effective in addressing the current non-productive experiences in our lives and then following the thread to where they began. Most cognitive therapies may talk about these relationship issues and gain an understanding of them; however, the conscious mind only contains 10% of our psyche. In order to permanently change these deeply embedded and complex patterns, we have discovered the importance of enlisting hypnotherapy techniques. This enables the client and therapist to access the wealth of information stored in the subconscious mind and to replace these destructive patterns with new healthy patterns on the deepest level.
Using Heart-Centered Hypnotherapy
In Heart-Centered Hypnotherapy we use a double induction technique with couples in which both partners engage in age-regression therapy at the same time, next to each other. This facilitates compassion and empathy for each other, an understanding of how their foundational childhood patterns may be conflicting with those of the spouse, and then developing new healthy behaviors with each other as well as with their children.