The Power Mask: How we use Aggression to Stay Safe

Some of us seek power as our pseudo-solution for getting our needs met in life. Here we think that the answer to all our problems lies in having power and being independent. This may be our pervasive life solution, or this may only show up in certain areas of our lives. As with all pseudo-solutions, there will always be a mix.

When the growing child adopts the power solution, it is with the intention of becoming untouchable. We believe the only way to stay safe is by becoming so strong and invulnerable that no one and nothing will be able to touch us. Then we cut off all our feelings.

We feel we are the exalted one and always want to maintain our special position.

When, however, our pesky emotions surface, we feel deeply ashamed. We see emotions as being a weakness, so then love and goodness are weak and hypocritical, even if they are expressed in a healthy way. Warmth and affection, communication and caring for others—all these are despicable. When we suspect such an impulse arising in ourselves, we are ashamed of it. It’s like the way the submissive type is ashamed of their resentment and qualities of self-assertiveness, both of which lie smoldering within.

Our drive for power and aggressiveness might be mainly directed toward accomplishments, so we will always be competing and trying to one-up everyone. We feel we are the exalted one and always want to maintain our special position. Losing any competition then is an injury to us and our private solution. It’s also possible that we’ll exhibit a more generalized, exalted attitude toward others.

Either way, we’ll cultivate an artificial toughness that isn’t any more real than the artificial helplessness that the submissive type manufactures. The power type is just as dishonest and hypocritical, because in truth, everyone needs warmth and affection. Without these, we suffer. So to be frozen in isolation and not admit the pain we cause ourselves is dishonest.

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The idealized self-image of the power type—the one who dons the Power Mask—demands standards of godlike power and independence. We think we must be completely self-sufficient without needing anyone, which is in contrast to what mere mortals require. We don’t see friendships or love or help as being important.

Our pride sticks out like a sore thumb. Heck, we’re proud of our pride.

Our pride sticks out like a sore thumb. Heck, we’re proud of our pride. We’re also proud of our aggressiveness and our cynicism. But we’ll need a more finely calibrated detector to see our dishonesty, which hides behind our rationalization of what a hypocrite the goody-goody type is.

The Power Mask requires us to live more independently from feelings than a human being possibly can. So we constantly feel like a failure for not living up to our ideal self. This “failure” throws us into depression and fits of self-contempt, which of course we project onto others so we don’t have to feel the pain of how we’re secretly whipping ourselves. Not living up to our own ridiculous standards of omnipotence will definitely leave a mark.
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It’s not uncommon for power types to espouse a trumped-up view that ‘people and the world are basically bad.’ And let’s face it, if we go out looking for proof to back up such a claim, we’ll find plenty of confirmation. So we, the power type, will take pride in how “objective” we are, as opposed to being gullible. And that, we say, is why we don’t like anyone.

Power seekers are also wired to never fail. Ever. If we think we might fail, we just head in another direction.

Our idealized self-image also dictates that we must not love. To show our true loving nature then is a crass violation of all we stand for, and doing so brings on deep shame. We can look at how this compares with the submissive type who proudly loves everybody and considers everyone good. (Of course, in reality, the submissive doesn’t really care whether anyone is good or bad, as long as their appreciation and approval is directed our way.)

Power seekers are also wired to never fail. Ever. We take pride in never failing at anything. If we think we might fail, we just head in another direction. Compare this with the submissive type who glorifies failure because it proves we are helpless and forces the other to protect us.

As we can see, the dictates of these two solutions are in direct opposition to each other. But whenever we choose to use one of the divine attributes in distortion, the others come along for the ride, also in distortion. This mixture of the three distortions of submission, aggression and withdrawal wrenches us apart. Not only can we not do justice to the dictates of our chosen solution, we can’t possibly get all these distortions to work together. Even if it were possible to always love everyone, or to never fail and be completely independent, we can’t play both sides at the same time; we can’t be simultaneously loved by everyone if we want to conquer them.

Imagine our inner landscape when we are trying to always be unselfish so that we can gain everyone’s love, and at the same time, be always selfish in our greedy grab for power. And on top of this, we should be indifferent to all feelings so that none of this disturbs us. Can you picture it? On a regular basis, we are literally tearing ourselves in two.


BONES: A Building-Block Collection of 19 Fundamental Spiritual Teachings

Chapter Seven: Love, Power and Serenity in Divinity or in Distortion