How do you feel when you hear that word?
For me, the word “powerless” brings up a deep fear. Fear that I or someone I love may be hurt, or that I have no ability to act or more forward for my own good. Fear that I can’t see the path before me, that I have no influence over what’s happening. Fear that I have no control over my life.
For a long time, I lived under the illusion that if could control everything, I would never feel powerless. I would never feel fear. My life was carefully planned and carried out, which left little room for creative living. It also didn’t leave much room for thought to how I would cope if something happened that was out of my control. And of course, that’s exactly what happened.
Multiple events took place when I was in my 20s that challenged my notions on control and power. My mother was diagnosed with cancer, my parents got a divorce, my grandmother died, and eventually my mother died as well. There was nothing I could control about any of that, which left me with a great sense of powerlessness.
I think many of us in these kinds of situations take one of two paths: we double down and become more controlling OR we give up on controlling anything ever. I unconsciously chose the latter.
You see, we often have the idea that power equals control. So we spend a lot of time either trying to control people and events in order to feel powerful, or we become powerless victims of the world around us.
But here’s the deeper truth: Power is innate. We don’t find it or earn it. We don’t receive power because we have money or exert control over someone else, or even ourselves. We don’t need to do all that because we already have it within us. Our ability to create our lives each day is our power. We often lose our connection to this, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. We simply have to learn how to tap into it again. We have to have the courage to truly acknowledge and heal all the layers that have obscured our inner source of power and creativity.
Regaining our power is a personal exploration and can take many different creative paths. However, there are tools everyone can use and apply in their own unique way. Read on for three “R’s” that have helped me over the years to regain my power when I felt out of control: Reaction, Reframe, and Regenerate.
In reality, there is very little in life we actually can control, besides our own behaviors. Everything around us is complex and interwoven; we may have some influence but control is minimal. While we can’t control all the events or feelings that come up for us, more often than not, we CAN control our reactions to a situation. Most of us have spent so much time throughout our lives operating as if our feelings are something that just happen to us (or pretending that they don’t happen at all). Yet, we have more power than we think. When we learn to feel where emotions happen in our bodies and the energy that’s produced, we can halt emotional reactions that result in negative outcomes.
The next time you feel powerless, stop and sense how you feel in your body. Is your stomach in knots? Is your chest tight? Does your head feel dizzy or tingly? Do you feel heat radiating from you? These are all signs of experiencing a difficult emotion. You may experience other sensations as well. What emotion are you feeling? Be as honest with yourself as possible so that you can correlate physical sensations with feelings. With practice, you can cultivate awareness of what you’re feeling and make conscious, intentional choices about how to react in the best way.
Power is most often about perception, belief, and what we choose to see. We see ourselves as powerless because the true view of our power is hidden by negative self talk, blaming others, trying to control the world around us, and occasionally, situations that are truly out of our control, like the death of a loved one. Wayne Dyer said, “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” Once we truly start to see ourselves as powerful beings, we will become the powerful beings we already are.
When a situation arises that causes feelings of powerlessness, take some time afterwards to reflect. Write down your initial perceptions of the incident. Ask yourself “How did I perceive the incident? What ways of thinking about the incident brought on the feelings of powerlessness?” Then, write down 2 or 3 ways you could reframe the incident. Ask, “What plausible things could I have told myself at the time that would have made me feel more powerful?” Or, “What would’ve allowed me to tap into that deep sense of inner power I know I already possess?”
For example, “I didn’t get the job I wanted. I’m not talented enough to get a good job” becomes “I didn’t get the job because it wasn’t a good fit for me. The right job will come along when the timing is right.” Or, “Nothing ever goes my way” becomes “I have the power to create the life I want.” Write statements that feel true on a deep level (even if they don’t feel true to you in the moment). Once you have reframed that incident, practice interpreting future incidents according to this new framework and act accordingly.
[Adapted from Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by James L. Wilson, N.D., D.C., Ph.D.].
When we feel powerless, it’s often because we’ve been not been taking good care of ourselves. Good self-care practices fill our cups and give us strength for the challenges in our lives.
When you’re feeling powerless, take some time to notice where you haven’t been so gentle on yourself. In what areas do you need the most care? Consider body, mind, AND spirit. Then commit to making time for serious self-care, no excuses. Focus on practices that make you feel powerful: Finish a task that’s been waiting, write out your feelings of powerlessness then burn them, repeat some positive affirmations, create something that you enjoy, or take a mindful walk.
Remember, we are creative and powerful beings. And we can tap into this at any time. We can create the lives we want by taking steps to regain connection to our innate power. If you need support in getting there, reach out to me. We can work through this together.
Love & light,
P.S. Here’s one more tip. BREATHE. It may not be an “R” but it’s a powerful way to get back to center. Shut your eyes. Breathe in power and breathe out fear. Repeat as often as necessary until you feel more grounded and balanced. Breathe in power and breathe out fear. You’ve got this.