When we perceive someone or something to have more power than we do; especially if that power gives them control or the right to make decisions, give orders or enforce obedience, we call it authority. Encountering authority, immediately makes us aware of our vulnerability. And the way we react to authority relates directly to the experiences we have had when we have been in that vulnerable position before. This is why so many people have “issues with authority and hierarchy.” For information on hierarchy, I suggest you watch my video titled: Hierarchy, Should We Accept It?
Before I continue with this lesson, I want you to take out a piece of paper and write down “what I could expect from my parents” on the top of the page. Underneath that, you’re going to make a list of what you could expect from them. Some examples may be: Caretaking, to have to fend for myself, to be guilted, to be praised, to be protected, to not be protected, to be valued and wanted, to be seen and treated like a burden and unwanted, to be invisible, honesty, for there to be dark truths underneath the surface of what was said and even done, disappointment, for them to take responsibility for me, for them to mess up, for them to make the right decisions, lots of mixed messages, for them to act in my best interests, for them to screw me for their best interests, to be supported, to be exploited etc. Write this list before you continue this video.
Now that you have written your list, make a short list of authority figures you have in your life, for example: The president, the monarchy, the government, someone with higher social status, someone with more knowledge, my boss, coaches, Teal Swan, any other spiritual leader, my professor, my doctor, police men, corporate executives etc. And see how closely your expectations or fears relative to them match this list that you just wrote. Do this comparison before you continue this video.
When we are born, our first authority figures are our parents. Beyond that, older siblings or older extended family members and beyond that, teachers and the parents of our peers. Essentially, our first imprinting relative to authority occurs within our interactions with the adults that were around us in our childhood. We learn to recognize and remember patterns by virtue of association. In our minds, however our first interactions went with our primary authority figures, is what we associate with authority in general. And this is where we become unconscious.
If you want to understand people’s very different reactions to what the powers that be in the world today are doing, simply know that people project their experiences with their primary authority figures onto any authority figures that they encounter in their adulthood. They expect the same experiences. To understand projection, watch my video titled: Projection (Understanding the Psychology of Projecting). For example, in response to this most recent Covid-19 crisis, a person who perceives themselves to have a loving, trusting relationship with their primary authority figures that they can rely on, will tend to say things like “the president is doing the very best job he can, we have to trust him to know what’s best for us.” Where as a person who perceives themselves to have an oppositional, distrusting relationship with their primary authority figures that they could not rely on will tend to say things like “this asshole is just in it for his own pocketbook no matter the cost to the average citizen, may god have mercy on us all.”
If what you are wanting is truth and clarity, it lies beyond projection. That is to say, all projection obscures the truth. For example, it opens the door for the possibility that we are projecting mal intent where there is actually mal intent, or we could be projecting mal intent where there is actually benevolence. We could also just as easily be projecting benevolence where there is actual benevolence as we could be projecting benevolence where there is actually mal intent.
Those of us who were much more fortunate in our experiences with authority figures in childhood, tend to project positive where it may or may not actually exist. Whereas those of us who were not so fortunate, tend to project negative where it may or may not actually exist. And we argue violently to preserve the validity of our own associations.
Perhaps the ultimate authority we have is the universe at large, what many call source or god. You will notice that your expectations of the universe mirror your expectations of your childhood authority figures. This has serious implications if you felt that one or more of the authority figures were adversaries. It means you feel the universe is against you. It also has serious implications if you had an un-predictable parent. It means you expect the universe to sometimes support you and sometimes destroy you. For more information about this, watch my video titled: I Can’t Trust the Universe, I Feel Like God is Against Me).
Our unconsciously held attitudes, and more than that feelings, towards authority figures can make a real mess of our ability to perceive and see things clearly as well as a real mess of our lives in general because of how it makes us respond to authority. It causes us to polarize towards hostility or over-compliance. It causes us to unconsciously play out the same experience in adulthood that we had with our primary authority figures as a child. It often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
For this reason, it is important to recognize this pattern of projecting your primary authority figures in childhood onto authority figures in your adult life and to remember that the more in control of your own life you feel, the less of an issue you will have with authority.