Reality Check: Purpose and Power

It’s easy to mistake the “power need” that’s identified in reality therapy for something negative. People who want to lead lives filled with good relationships might perceive that they have no need for power; that is, they don’t need or want power over other people.

However, one interpretation of this basic need for power is simply that it’s the need to recognize, for yourself, that you have value.

There are people who spend considerable time and energy seeking out their purpose in life. One way to satisfy the power need is to find ways to fulfill that purpose.

Nick, however, is a guy who hasn’t given much thought about purpose. If you observed his actions, you’d conclude that his purpose is to have a good time. He hangs with his friends, drinks a bit, and works only as absolutely necessary. If he strives toward anything, it’s to live a carefree life.

How is Nick satisfying his need for power? Without purpose or goals, he satisfies his need for power by refusing to take on any responsibility.  He feels respected by his buddies, who look up to him (especially when he’s buying.) And, he sees himself as his own man, not tied down to anything, especially not to any full-time regular boss!

Now, a series of unfortunate events have resulted in the fact that Nick will soon be responsible for his young son, Kyle.

Nick has never had much of a father himself, and he’s never seen himself as a fatherly type. His idea of a good evening has nothing in common with tucking a young fella into bed with a glass of warm milk and a bedtime story!

There are various ways that Nick could choose to view this change in his life. For example, he could look at Kyle as a burden who will prevent him from living the life that he has been enjoying.

Or, Nick could see raising Kyle as his purpose—the reason he has been given his strong back and sound mind. By conducting himself as if being a father is his most important role, he may find that his power need will be satisfied even more effectively than it is now.

Some people seek purpose; for others, it’s thrust upon them. Responding to purpose can be need-satisfying, especially when you see that your purpose is larger than you are.

A point for Nick to consider is whether he wants to see this responsibility as a problem or whether he wants to see it as a purpose that could be need-satisfying for him. His perception of his responsibility will largely determine whether it brings satisfaction or resentment to his life.

Fulfilling his responsibility to his son could turn out to be gratifying for Nick. That is,  if he can shift his perception to see that stepping up will help to satisfy his own needs, particularly his own need for self-respect.

Do you find that having a conscious purpose is personally satisfying?

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