Omega Redemption :: Expressing Personal Power
Omega Redemption :: Bullies Begone
The Expression of Personal Power
A continual theme in my work with clients is what I call the Omega Archetype. An omega archetype is what I am calling the mental framework and behavior response pattern that invites persons with large personalities to dominate our sensibilities and overtake our lives. It is a relational expression that results in codependent dynamics resulting in feelings of powerlessness and frustration as we unknowingly (and sometimes knowingly) allow the people in our lives to dictate our own expression.
Psychologically speaking, like most things that rule our adult relational dynamics, it can usually be traced back to childhood conditioning. While therapy (sourcing the wound) is a process that can prove constructive as a foundation for change (and is essential in order to move forward in some cases) experience has taught me that often even a basic understanding of what is at the root can be enough of a foundation to tackling this growth opportunity. As always, my interest as a coach is in what we can do NOW to respond differently and thereby create new relational patterns moving forward. Assuming a client is able to acknowledge and develop awareness that there is a problem, the omega complex can be revealed... and healed through ACTION. It’s one of my favorite themes in sessions as it reveals a tremendous opportunity for growth, confidence building, and personal expansion.
I call this archetype “omega” because those who wrestle with this pattern are in one or more area of their lives serving as a scapegoat or emotional outlet for a more dominant personality, much like the omega in a wolf pack community. Most omegas are naturally very empathic, sensitive to the needs of those around them. Sometimes (or consistently) they choose to be in close contact with people who tend towards an alpha (or dominant) constitution. Whether it be a family member, spouse, employer, or best friend, one or more primary intimacy in their life is marked by a distinct dynamic whereby they are consistently forfeiting their power to another. Of course, many of us wrestle with this from time to time. But for an omega, the pattern is clear... bullies gravitate toward them.
It is important to note that an omega complex can become active in even the most outgoing, boisterous and willful of individuals. It is not a character weakness by any means, nor does it define us in every interaction. While there are certainly exceptions, it is most times a learned response due to childhood conditioning; therefore, it can show up only every now and then given the right set of circumstances. Consider this: Both the bully-alpha and passive-omega can be born out of the same environment of perpetual conflict (be it outwardly or passively aggressive). The bully-alpha imitates the active-aggressive agent, reliving past dynamics through the flexing of power.... while the victim-omega rejects the active aggression, swinging to the other end of the spectrum becoming the passive agent in the drama. The bully restores internal balance through external means, seizing the sense of personal power that they were denied as a child. The omega does just the opposite, restoring balance through internal means, “sucking it up” in order to win favor or avoid conflict. Ultimately, neither response leads to functional outcomes. The omega response is the more typical adaptation for women, and is what I come in contact with most often. Needless to say, the tendency toward passivity leads to a specific brand of resentment over time as we continually yield to the strong opinions or motivation of others.
It is essential to note that rarely is it one or the other entirely. I am not big on labels; and this is an intentional over-simplification in order to describe a dynamic. In fact, quite typically an individual with an omega complex will act out each end of the spectrum in different areas of their lives. For example, the mom that allows herself to be passively bullied by her boss day in and day out at work may also be the alpha at home - barking orders at the family in an effort to affirm that her voice has its place in the world. She lives with the stressful fragmentation of these two personas, feels frustrated at work, and alienates those closest to her. In the end, this alpha-omega complexity has little to nothing to do with who’s in charge or the hierarchy being acted out. Like everything, it’s about self-expression. When who we are is denied, it finds vehicle. In short... power will find a way to express itself, always. It’s just most effective when used consciously. Thus, deny your voice in one area of your life, and it will leak or roar! (rather inefficiently) into another.
I myself spent my twenties with a severe omega complex. My childhood home, while loving, was wrought with tension and my stepdad’s unpredictable and raging mood swings. Coupled with our incessant moving from year to year, I ran into my fair share of bullies. Though I am naturally quite vocal and willful, I followed the models available to me as a child and I learned to keep my mouth shut. My voice became muted and I learned to take it. Unbeknowst to me, I grew into a natural target for the power hungry because I gave them exactly what they wanted - an outlet for their aggression. I allowed myself to be the omega, passive in the face of over-assertion time and time again... teachers, bosses, friends, you name it. And it seemed that no matter how fed up I got, no matter how many times I walked away (or ran in some cases) from the agent of my suffering, another would be waiting in the wings to lead me back into that space of emotional paralysis. A space where I felt powerless to change.
If you are consistently pushed around by someone in your life, well-meaning or not, you are allowing them to exert power over you. If there is one thing that I have learned it is that - emotionally speaking - people cannot take power from us that we do not grant them. Period. This is not about blame; this about taking responsibility for the relationships in your life. You teach people how to treat you by your responses, plain and simple. What’s the old adage?: “One time, shame on you. Two times, shame on me.”
As a survivor of bullying and recovered omega, I am here to tell you that you don’t have to suck it up any more. Overcoming the omega complex is a rich emotional journey through what I consider there to be three distinct phases of power-recovery and redemption.
Redemption Phase 1 :: The Power to STAND UP
REGAINING personal power by learning to get up when pushed and cornered. Recovering from old wounds by reclaiming the voice and power that was denied as a child.
Redemption Phase 2 :: The Power to STAND YOUR GROUND
CLAIMING personal power by trusting in the power of your own will, to stand your ground and no longer allow the opinions and emotional assault of others to dictate and define your responses to life.
Redemption Phase 3 :: The Power to WALK ON
EXPRESSING personal power by making more conscious choices about where to place your valuable essence, time, and energy. Relationships that seek to control are no longer useful, as you have grown strong enough to no longer need them in your life.
Do you think an omega redemption might be in order for you?
I can help.