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Why feeling Powerless is Corrosive to your Health and Wealth. What can you do about it to help


7 years ago, I got to know a co-worker when I join the new team. Judging by his appearance, I would have guessed he is in his late 40s, very experience on technical matters.

After observing him at work, I realize he exhibited a few traits that normally was brought out when we get advanced in age: being absent minded about what colleagues tell you, being less responsive at work and just being slower than the others in producing the work.

I got a shock one day when one of my new co-worker told me he is just 35 years old. How can there be such a big difference in appearance, productivity?

Turns out, he had a rather nasty boss for some time and was pressurized aggressively. When he struggled with the things that he had to deliver, his boss just told him to do this and that, based on the bosses old experience and it’s not the way he is accustom to. To make things worse, they put him in an awkward position of having to do some sales presentation that he was just not good at.

His boss made negative comments about him behind his back, and his fellow colleagues slowly frame a negative view of him, and starting treating him the same way.

Why didn’t he leave?

They even change the terms of employment from permanent to a contract position. That has to be one of the more degrading things in the eyes of your fellow colleagues. If you were my former co-worker your confidence would be shot to look for another job and that is why you will not make a jump to another job.

Why Being Powerless is very Corrosive to your Health

I didn’t understand my former co-worker until later in life when I cam across some psychological piece by Dacher Keltner.

There is the benefits for you being in power. However, it is the absence of power that can have a negative domino effect on a person over time.

Dacher linked back to a time in his childhood where he was staying at the poorest part of America. What he observed is that people do not have work there. They spend a lot of their time idling.

When you idle, you need to have an outlet to occupy your time. Most of them spend on very nonsensical things.

The result is that people there die young. The kids develop health problems and disease that you will be shocked why they happen to people that young. It is called child frailty syndrome. People die of heart disease and cancer at a very young age.

When you do not have power, your body’s stress hormone, cortisol gets revved up.

If you are consistently oppressed over 20 years, imagine how this stress does to your body.

Why Being Powerless have a Corrosive effect on your Wealth

I have friends that is trapped in family situations where they do not have a way out.

And it wears them down mentally. You start seeing the toll it takes on them.

They gain weight. They could be constantly sick and always going to the doctor.

When you are mentally oppressed you cannot do the best work. Family problems compound on work problems. Hence, you cannot give your all.

When you cannot give enough compared to majority of your peers, your ranking is lowered and this affects your progression not to mention perhaps your employment.

When your confidence takes a hit, self improvement and finding another work might feel so dangerous versus staying in the status quo.

This cycle repeats itself, and if we look at the definite way you become wealthy, you have just capped your earnings and you mount more recurring downside expenses.

You become poorer.

Powerlessness is getting Prevalent

I realize as I reflect upon this subject, this seem to be the story of a lot of our lives.

Being powerless is not just about an oppressive boss.

Being powerless due to in law pressure is a common one when it compounds with other switching costs.

Being powerless due to a more domineering spouse.

Bonds eventually gets broken. Which is what we are seeing more of in Singapore.

If you are in Power, Recognize and Give Strength

The most important ingredient to get out of this situation is to first recognize in any relationship(s) that this is a problem where the person have lost confidence and oppressed.

Unfortunately, the better solution to turn the situation around for healing is for the one in power to recognize this.

Peers and friends can help to recognize what someone is doing to those around him or her and point out as some people can be rather myopic or have very little self-awareness of this phenomenon.

They can then give some words of gratitude. Not just that, give them an avenue to speak up. To regain back the confidence.

Switch the Oppressive Environment

Things will likely not get better for you if you stayed on. The longer you stayed on, the more disenfranchised you will become.

If you are being treated unfairly , then speak out to a third party perhaps a boss’s boss. If the person got into that position because he is a good man manager, he would know what to do about this situation.

Most of the time, it’s time to request a change of team before the problem gets out of hand.

You need confidence to do work, and then you become more productive, deliver better performance, possibly getting better grading and better progression, resulting in you earning more.

You are also the equivalent of the the five people you are closest to, as they say. So a change in environment removes the toxic bonds of peers that have been poisoned by your past behavior too much.

If your new team can enhance your psyche it will be great.

If this doesn’t work out, perhaps it is time to leave the what my best friend says, a change in environment is always good.


I think it got to a point where I am seeing too much of these new pressures happening to people around me that I felt compelled to write something on this.

Friends that are tied up in financial situation that they hope I have some advice to untangle.

In many situations, the situation is like the kind of dead knot tied by an inexperience outdoors-man. There is no one good solution other than to use a good pair of scissors to cut through them.

We know that is not going to happen and so the problem remains.

Have you personally been in such a situation or have encountered someone close being decimated because they are losing power?

Were there happy ending or more ways to turn around the situation? Let us see if we can overturn the situation for more people.

You can write in by replying to me or hit the comment below.

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Thursday 18th of August 2016

i had been a "victim" many times due to unavoidable office politics.

i usually look for a new job just within 3 to 5 years.

Sometimes, i purposely hang on until i was "forced to leave".

Yet i still did my best at my job at every new place.

Usually there would be a "honeymoon" time for me because my boss could see i tried my best.

Alas, not for too long office politics would force me to look for another new job.

That was one of the main reasons i stopped work at the age of 53 even i had all the accumulated useful skills to do a good job.

i just did't know how to fit in.

i was always a natural square peg in a round whole.

That's why i always felt if i was a "Char Quay Teow" man, i would be happier during those working years.

Another words, i am always a loner, never, able, ever join the crowd.

Even i have to be in the crowd at times, until today.

Do you think i make an good investor?

If you were a boss, i think you will make a good boss because you know what's going on with humans mokeying-business in your office.


Thursday 18th of August 2016

not really. communication have always been a challenge for introverts like myself. uncle temperament could you give an example of some of the more corrosive behavior that puts people down? i think if you could still keep your morale up, you are still doing ok. the ones that is most affected didn't come out well even after 5 years.


Thursday 18th of August 2016

Hi, this is an interesting article and I can relate to it. I wish to share my experience with you but do not want my comments published publicly. How do I write to your personal email?


Thursday 18th of August 2016

hi WB you can send to me at [email protected]

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