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Cannot Work Due to Authority Problems

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I cannot hold down a job because I refuse to submit to arbitrary authority. I’ve been diagnosed with BPD as well. I continuously get fired or quit due to workplace conflicts. I’m trying to move to a region of the country where employment opportunities may be more varied, pertain to my career field, or pay more; however, my inability to work is making this goal nearly impossible to achieve. I simply cannot work. No amount or type of coping skill makes the pain of submission to authority or workplace bullying any less excruciating.

Cannot Work Due to Authority Problems

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It’s not clear what you mean by “submission to authority” or “arbitrary authority.” I wish that I had more details about the circumstances of your firings and decisions to quit. It could be that the people in “authority” are bosses (or managers). These individuals always have more power than employees. Their job is to oversee and manage those employees. The hierarchy is such that the boss naturally has more power than do the individuals working under them. They are in a position of telling others what to do. These are, of course, general statements about the power dynamics between bosses and their employees and certainly would not apply to everyone, in every situation.

The boss also provides guidance and leadership to employees. Many have earned their place in the company. They often acquired their higher-level status after having worked many years with the company. Employees, especially new employees, look to them for advice. Employees often haven’t been at the company as long as the boss and thus rely on their advice.

Sometimes, people can be resentful of the boss. This is especially true when the boss is unfair, bullies their employees or creates a toxic work environment. It’s not clear if any of those situations where applicable to you or if you simply resent being told what to do, under any circumstances.

If you cannot work because of this issue, then you have a dilemma. You will have severely limited your job prospects. That significantly narrows the scope of options you have for work or a career. This hurts your ability to make a living. It is you who will suffer from your inability to work with others. You have the potential to lose out on great jobs and a satisfying career. You also face a significant loss of potential income. One needs to work in order to have money to pay bills, to eat, to have a home, and so forth. You need money to live.

In addition, if you live in the United States, you need to have health insurance. Without health insurance, you face serious financial and medical consequences. Those without health insurance often forgo preventative care and risk not being able to pay their medical bills, should they get sick and need treatment. Medical care can be extraordinarily expensive. Recent studies indicate that the majority of bankruptcies in the United States are linked to medical issues. Often, health insurance comes from the employer and without this benefit, many simply cannot afford health insurance.

People can also gain satisfaction and a feeling of accomplishment from their jobs. This is not to say that a person’s self worth should be tied to their careers or what they do for a living but it can positively affect their confidence levels. Competence increases one’s self-esteem. Without those occupational elements in your life, you may suffer from a lack of competence, confidence and or self-esteem.

If you can’t function in the traditional work environment, then you’ll need to find another way to make a living. One potential option is to be your own boss. Perhaps you can start your own business. That’s one potential workaround.

You mentioned that you have BPD but I’m not certain if you meant borderline personality disorder or bipolar disorder. In any event, one strategy for attempting to resolve this problem is counseling. You might consider it to adjust or realign your mindset around these issues. Your inability to be deferential to authority hurts your job prospects and thus potentially your ability to have a happy and well-adjusted life. If you are open to it, counseling could remedy this. Good luck and please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Cannot Work Due to Authority Problems

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2019). Cannot Work Due to Authority Problems. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 16 Sep 2019 (Originally: 18 Sep 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 16 Sep 2019
Published on Psych All rights reserved.