You Had the Power All Along


Power without compassion is the worst kind of evil there is.

~ E.J. Patten, Return to Exile

In order to win our love and trust, a psychopath must gain two things — power and control. Without those, they are nothing.

The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.

~ Edmund Burke

But you hold The Grail, the thing a psychopath so desperately wants. The psychopath pursued you, for a reason. You were the one who had the power, and it never left you. You had the power to have brought the whole charade to a screeching halt in an instant, if you had only known. (But you didn’t know; there’s no way that you could have.)

And your power goes far beyond that. It is real and enduring. It is the power to love, and to make the world a better place for the people in your life. Psychopaths may have the power to manipulate, but that’s a cheap and temporary form of power. All they can do with it is make life worse for the people around them.

We have a new power now, the power to end a victimization as soon as we become aware of it — as long as we don’t doubt ourselves or leave our perceptions or our needs open to debate. That was part of our undoing in the past. A psychopath can’t continue doing his or her thing when we see what’s happening and then tell him to get permanently lost. We don’t need to stick around long enough to make a diagnosis, because cognitive dissonance will work against us (as many of us know so well).

Cognitive dissonance is — in and of itself the only ‘diagnosis’ we need, one that means it’s time to run, not walk, out the nearest exit. When you’re riding an emotional roller coaster that plunges from elation to despair, when you’re not sure who someone really is or how they really feel about you, that means not to even waste your time trying to figure it out. It means run for your life and don’t look back. Sometimes, running is the most powerful thing you can do because it allows you to save yourself.

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.

~ Alice Walker

Psychopaths, who want something from us, present themselves as having something we desire, which of course isn’t really true. When love bombing turns into devaluation (the point when your elation at finding love turns into the fear of losing it), it’s known as the ‘manipulative shift.’ That’s when the psychopath ‘takes’ your power and gains control. What he or she really does is hide your power from you by covering it with doubt, fear and shame. Creating those emotions is what enables him to control you while he tries to get what he wants and destroys you in the process.

The measure of a man is what he does with power.

~ Plato

When you have something that someone wants, you are at risk. Likewise, when you believe someone is offering you something you want, you are also at risk. This isn’t a cynical viewpoint — it’s simply a truth we need to be aware of. Accepting hard truths like this protects us from people we don’t want in our lives.

What you give power to has power over you, if you allow it.

~ Leon Brown

In a previous post, I told you what the psychopath I knew said to me at the start of the relationship victimization: He told me it was imperative that the balance of power remain equal, because a relationship will go wrong if it doesn’t. He warned that the one who had the most power would care less and would control the relationship, while the one who had the least power would care more and would be miserable. When that happened, he said, everything would go straight to hell.

His mind was obviously on power from day one, just like every psychopath. He had a plan.

But we don’t think that way — we don’t start a new relationship with thoughts about ‘power.’ Maybe it’s time to start. We should be aware of the power dynamics in relationships so we know when they’re going off kilter, and we should be aware of our own power and how to hold onto it.

We weren’t aware of what was really happening, because we didn’t know we were being manipulated. We weren’t as wise as we are now.

 If you don’t control your mind, someone else will.

~ John Allston

We weren’t perfectly clear about what we wanted, and we weren’t clear that what we wanted was more important than what the other person wanted. Even if we knew exactly what we wanted, we didn’t realize when it turned into something else.  We didn’t have our own agenda, so we went along with someone else’s without knowing it.

If you don’t impose your own terms upon life, you must accept the terms it offers you.

~ T. S. Eliot

This is why it’s so important to become really clear about what you want (and don’t want) in your life and who you want in your life, and then to create boundaries to protect those things from psychopaths and other manipulators who do nothing but cause great harm and waste your precious time. Now you know so many signs that will serve as warnings to tell you things are not as they appear. What will you do in the future if you sense that something is amiss? Come up with a plan now.

When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.

~ Audre Lorde

After you create your boundaries, you will need to defend them. Assertiveness can be a terrifying prospect for those who have complied, appeased and avoided confrontation at all costs. Here are two thoughts to make it easier: Assertiveness is communicating in a direct and honest way. That’s all it is. Boundaries communicate what is and what is not acceptable behavior from others. That’s all they are. When you defend what you’ve decided is important to you, you take a stand for yourself and your life. Now that’s powerful. That is the super-power of self-love in action.

To exercise power takes effort and demands courage. That is why so many fail to assert rights to which they are perfectly entitled.

~ Friedrich Nietzsche

We didn’t trust ourselves, so we doubted ourselves and our perceptions. We didn’t know when to give our trust to someone else, or maybe we did know but didn’t stop trusting someone who was no longer worthy of our trust (we need to keep in mind how the first impressions we form about someone prevent us from clearly seeing who they eventually show themselves to be. That’s a basic cognitive bias we all have, and it takes conscious effort to overcome it.). We didn’t realize the places we were vulnerable, so we didn’t know we had to watch for someone zeroing in on and exploiting those weak spots. We didn’t know people exist who are unable to love and who don’t have a conscience, people who are nothing more than predators. Now we know all of this, and more.

There is no knowledge that is not power.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Our power was there, inherent within us, but it was unrealized due to all the things we didn’t know that we didn’t know.  Because of that, it was easy for someone to take that power away. Now we know these things, or are working diligently toward knowing them.

We’ve gained knowledge, wisdom, and confidence. We trust ourselves and we feel comfortable in our own skin. We care a lot more about what we think of others than what they think of us (try it next time you meet someone new, or even with those you already know, and prepare to be amazed). We recognize our limits and accept them. We have a greater sense of self-worth than we have ever known, and we realize it’s what we should have felt all along. Now our power is realized. We feel it and we own it, and we will not let anyone diminish it ever again.

Mastering others is strength. Mastering yourself is true power.

~ Tao Te Ching

An experience with a psychopath can leave us feeling utterly powerless in the aftermath, but ultimately we can end up with more power than we ever had before. That power comes through the determination to overcome this adversity, and not to stop until we do. It’s a good and enduring kind of power that will serve us and others well.

♥ Thank you for reading.


Comments are closed.

Related Posts

21 thoughts on “You Had the Power All Along”

  1. Joyce M. Short- Author

    Powerful! Bravo AB!

    1. Admin

      Thank you, Joyce! :-)

  2. Connie

    Thank you for sharing your insight. It is going on a little more than four months now since making the decision to remove the psychopath from my life. I was mesmerized by his silky words and gentle charms that throughout the nine years of knowing him he became an addiction to me—even when he was at his worst in how he devalued me it was like I was in a transe that refused to allow me to let go of him. It has taken me the better part of two years of researching and a lot of prayer to accept that God, in His goodness listened to my prayer of pleading to Him to give me the grace and strength to leave the relationship. Your ‘post’ always comes when I am entering the darkest and loneliest recess of my being —- and those are the times I am most weak and miss that sick man—-as each day moves forward I continue to gain acceptance that I had been a victim but my confidence lies I knowing that God has allowed me to feel His presence and I will come out as a survivor! Thank you for all your ‘posts’ – yet today, your piece is exceptional —- moved my heart, my mind, and gave my spirit strength.

    1. Admin

      Good for you and your decision! You will come out a survivor; I have no doubt, because you have faith that you will. You’re still fresh out of it, but as you have found, if you can make it through the darker moments you become a bit stronger and more confidence. I’m very happy to hear today’s post gave your spirit strength — what more could I hope for from my writing? Nothing. Thank you for letting me know, Connie. It means a lot to me.

  3. Nearlybel

    I hadn’t finished, and I hope it made sense, I just wanted to get across how much this affected me, and the illustrations are just so perfect, I use hate the word perfect, cos he used to demean us all cos he ‘was perfect’ and oh how he wasn’t! but there is no harm and never was to strive for perfection, and appreciate natures and our own perfection in our imperfectness.
    I’ll stop before this ends up looking like a word salad.
    Great, powerful post, I love it.

    1. Admin

      Perfection is a trap. If we strive for perfection, we are guaranteed to fail. If anyone else expects us to be perfect, they will always be sorely disappointed, in addition to being delusional. If we’re put down by someone because we’re not ‘perfect,’ that’s someone we don’t need in our lives. We need people who bring us up, not down. Another simple truth I didn’t learn early on, but better late than never, right?

      So glad to hear you liked the post, Nearlybel. Thank you!

  4. roro

    Bullseye!! Loads of good points made that are dead on! Love the pics too…Couldn’t help envisioning Hannibal Lechter to Clarice….”who does he covet Clarice?! Who does he covet?!!…”

    1. Admin

      I’m glad that I hit the bullseye for you! Part of what inspired me was our conversation, so it makes sense. I almost want to watch that movie again…but I don’t dare. Much too scary for me. I still haven’t recovered from the first time, and that was at least 10 years ago :-0

  5. Hope

    You seem to understand like no-one else. I recently had a ‘slip’, and thought the P and I could maybe work towards a friendship.(I’m being cyber-stalked by P, in a brutal fashion.) This situation is so messed up, it’s hard to move on when your getting cyber-stalked. Thanks for this article. So much truth, amazing quotes, and an amazing talent to write about this.Thank you! Thank You! Thank You!

    1. Admin

      You’re welcome, Hope, x 1000.

      Cyberstalking…that’s definitely not my area of expertise, but I know it is very serious. What is she doing, exactly? Check the laws where you live; I know some jurisdictions will pursue charges, especially if you happen to live in the UK. Keep records of everything, and don’t respond to anything — that’s what she wants. Be a “gray rock,” because she may get bored and give up if she can’t get any reaction out of you: The Gray Rock Method of Dealing with Psychopaths
      Best of luck, Hope. Keep me posted.

    2. Depressedempath

      My ex psycho cyber stalked me. I copied all the evidence and took out an intervention order. The order prevents him from cyber stalking and further, he had to take down all posts he made about me. That shut him down. Only way….

      1. Admin

        It’s great that you saved all the evidence and could get an intervention order (I’m assuming that’s like a restraining order?) and have him ordered to take his posts down. We’re way behind here in the US (surprise surprise) and law enforcement does little if anything about cyber-stalking, unless there have been recent changes I don’t know about.

  6. Diane Plant

    Brilliant article

    For the record, I have been researching loads into this trying to understand what happened to me and your stuff has contributed greatly.

    I am free now and empowered. The only problem I have is that I have been referred to as ‘hard work’ unreasonable’, all kinds of names (and all by men may I add), all because I stuck by my guns and upheld my boundaries!! (Your book was great by the way).

    I have walked away from these comments and men with head held high and will continue to do so, away from people that have no respect for what i know is important to ME.

    I feel protected. I feel protected by me and I like that feeling very much.
    Keep your inspirational articles coming AB

    1. Admin

      I’m glad I’ve contributed and happy to hear you liked the Boundaries book! My most important lessons are between those pages.

      “I have walked away from these comments and men with head held high and will continue to do so” I have, too, and I will also continue to do so. I will not waste my time anymore. It’s not just psychopaths I don’t want — it’s anyone not capable of having a relationship for whatever reason (the men on the other end of the spectrum who are too neurotic to see past their own foreheads also guarantee misery). I should write an article about my dating experiences since the psychopath — it would be comedic, yet sad, yet empowering, and highly informative! Thanks for your comment, Diane.

    2. MizTee

      you literally took the words right out of my head! I feel exactly the same way, very empowered, and for the same reasons!!

  7. MizTee

    Thank you so much for all your posts!! You have clearly done your research on this topic, as many of us who have endured this type of relationship have! I enjoy everything you post and share it with my community of women who are all in the boat with me…taking our power BACK and realizing what we didn’t realize UNTIL we had the courage to step away! I now spend most of my time counseling others through similar situations and helping them to realize their own value, afterall it is quite often our lack of self-value that makes us a target to begin with!
    This post in particular hit home with me because you kept it on topic, we need to focus LESS on the bahavior of those around us and focus ALL our energy into our own lives. I work everyday to keep my focus on myself and the road AHEAD of me!!
    keep them coming….PLEASE! : )

    1. Admin

      Hi MizTee. I’m so glad this post inspired you to come out of the shadows and say hello!

      It is so important to get to a point where we “re-frame” the whole experience into one that is empowering and focuses on how we can grow and benefit from it. We’re resilient and have the ability to overcome great adversity. A lot of that depends on the story we tell ourselves. This particular ‘story’ has the potential to leave us feeling powerless or powerful, and I try to help others turn the corner and see it in a new light that leads them down the ‘powerful’ route. The psychopaths we knew would hate that. They took our strengths and twisted them into weaknesses, and the last thing they would want is for us to see the TRUTH they worked so hard to obscure, and for us to become STRONGER from what they did instead of weaker.

      I’m happy to hear you are doing the same thing through your counseling, MisTee. Hugs to you and all the women in your community who are in that same boat together — I picture it as one sailing strongly and steadily FORWARD as the clouds above part to reveal the warm light of truth.

  8. Anon

    I don’t get it. If we DID have the power but we didn’t know it than it was our fault that they hurt us. I really want to understand this. I…I can’t fall back into self blame. It keeps kicking me in the ass. Help me….I understand the general concepts I do. I know how much control I have over my own life and it’s beautiful but I’m going back in my head to all the places I could have done better and I feel like how do we know if we would of known who we were and stood out ground that things wouldn’t of have been better

    1. Adelyn Birch

      How can not knowing something mean that what happened was your fault? This entire website is, in one way or another, about overcoming self-blame, and I promise you my intention here was not to send you back into it. You should come over to today’s blog post, “I Should Have Known.” A person victimized by a predator is never the one to blame; the predator is the one to blame. Psychopaths take advantage of our humanity. Being human was all it took, and that’s not something anyone can blame themselves for, once they understand that. Sure, if we had known then all we know now, things would have been different. And I’m sure that if we knew everything now that we’re going to know twenty years from now, we could avoid a lot of problems. Unfortunately, that’s not possible. We’re born not knowing anything, and we learn as we go along. “Life can only be understood backwards, but it has to be lived forwards.”

      I will re-read this post and fix anything that might give someone the wrong message. I’m sorry that happened to you.

  9. Anon

    Oh haha no no I did not mean in any way that the article was flawed though I do appreciate the concern. My question was simply logic from the answer already given. And in no way did I mean that what you said was wrong. I believe you are 100 percent right and learning how to make boundaries and create personal control is and Will always be the right thing to do regardless of the situation place or thing. I personally have this question. BECAUSE it Seems like a paradox. Like so: If we take back our personal power, the phsycopath has NO control. And in those moments when he DID have control it was because we were destroyed to such a degree that we couldn’t stand up for ourselves or realize what was happening. My thought process simply usually goes like this: if personal power stops the phsycopath, than in those moment where he controlled us we made a CHOICE not use our personal power to protect ourselves = our fault.

    That’s the trap I get into when I read these articles. And not because they are flawed in any way but because I feel a terrible responsibility on myself to always always make the right choice.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      I changed the opening paragraph anyway, so no one will get the wrong idea :-)

      “in those moments when he DID have control it was because we were destroyed to such a degree that we couldn’t stand up for ourselves or realize what was happening… if personal power stops the psychopath, than in those moment where he controlled us we made a CHOICE not use our personal power to protect ourselves = our fault.”

      It’s true, we’d been beaten down to such a degree that we couldn’t stand up for ourselves; that was done purposely by the psychopath, through underhanded means. But did you—or anyone—CHOOSE that? Of course not. That’s why they have to use manipulation—which basically means getting someone to do something that’s not in their best interest, by using covert tactics. When you’re being manipulated, you are unable to make an informed decision about your situation. If you had accurate information about the person and situation you were involved with, and weren’t being driven witless, your decisions would have been very different. They were able to manipulate us because of our humanity; we have emotions, and the ability to love and bond and trust. They take full advantage of those things. We’d never been through it before, so we didn’t know what was going on. You can’t know something until you become aware of it.

      Now that we know. we won’t have our power diminished like that again; and if they can’t take our power from us, well then they won’t want anything to do with the likes of us!

      As far as taking responsibility goes, read the post on this site called “Emergency: Self-Blame.” You don’t have to take responsibility for someone else’s deplorable behavior; that doesn’t make sense. What you can take responsibility for, and which you’re already doing, is learning as much as you can to protect yourself in the future.

      I love this quote:

      “Victim blamers love to scream about how you’ll never recover, grow, or heal if you don’t ‘accept the blame’ for your role in the dynamic (because it takes two to tango and blah blah blah).

      But here’s a neat concept: It’s perfectly possible to recover, grow, and heal without accepting the blame for someone else’s horrendous behavior. That’s how we build self-respect and boundaries. That’s how we learn to stop absorbing someone else’s projection, excuses, and minimization of abuse.”

      ~ Peace, Psychopath Free

Comments are closed.