Stress at the DMV: Why Less Power Means More Stress
Our friend Rachel called the other day to vent. She had been stuck in a line in the DMV for nearly two hours only to find out when she got to the head of the line that she had to go home and bring in some documents. We sympathized. We’d been there.
One of the greatest sources of stress is what we call the PDF, or Power Differential Factor. It works like this:
In general, a person who has less relative power is under greater stress –
especially in personal and societal relationships—than someone who has greater relative power. Someone with greater relative power (depending on personality, cultural upbringing, the present situation), will generally have less reason to fear fallout from negative interactions than someone one with less power.
If you are in a position of power (or even if you aren’t), and have trouble imagining how those with less power feel, think of your last trip to the DMV or the Post Office (or any dealings you may have had with the IRS).
Now do you remember what it feels like to have less relative power? Think about the long lines and the unintelligible forms you have to fill in that seemed designed to trip you up! Think about the sheer amount of time you have to spend attending to these bureaucratic requirements. In these and other taxpayer-funded agencies the citizen has almost no power relative to the public employees whose salaries they pay.
In these situations, people you have had no previous relationship with, i.e. government bureaucrats, have been granted an incredible amount of control over your ability to travel or communicate with others or simply control over your time and the money you’ve earned! They are in power, you are not.
Power can be about control over others, but true power, the kind of power that gives us the deepest and longest lasting rewards, is the kind of power we have over ourselves. When we learn that we are able to control our desires, our thoughts, and even our reactions to the world, we have a gift that transforms and mitigates the stress caused by PDF and some cases, even nullifies it.
There are several ingredients necessary to upping our PDF quotient. In the West, and especially the United States, where authority and hierarchies are relatively fluid, two of the most important of these ingredients are:
Information and Education
(there are more ingredients, but we will only explore these, here due to space limitations).
Information, as we use it here, refers to current, relevant data (news, scientific discoveries, formulas, statistics, and so on), that gives us the facts we need to know to make intelligent, and powerful, decisions.
Education refers to the techniques and methods with which we make the information we have access to, useful.
Information and the education that helps us utilize it, are arguably the most important playing-field levelers in any democracy. If we look at totalitarian regimes, such as the former U.S.S.R., or the current regime in Iran, the powerful control not only access to information but also the content itself, thereby creating misinformation. Information and education becomes tools for the creation of and maintenance of power and control over others.
Though some argue that information overload produces stress, our opinion is that even massive amounts of information helps us maintain our power as citizens of the state as well as autonomous individuals. When access to information is combined with the necessary education that helps us discern what data is important and how to use the information once acquired, we gain power.
This helps us reduce stress due to the PDF.
For More Information Please Visit: www.richardzwolinski.com.