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It comes as a shock to many of us that we are powerless over

other people, or that when we try to exert our power over them,

we create chaos. Some of us have an easy time accepting we

are powerless over others; indeed, it can come as a

welcome relief.


Others of us, however, are not able to recognize our

powerlessness and we fight it.


We hate that we have no control because it makes us feel vulnerable. Admitting that we are, and always were, powerless over our original families can leave us feeling the pain and grief of our childhoods.


Needless to say, we don’t want to feel pain and grief and we would rather not have to deal with these uncomfortable feelings. At the same time, we don’t want to feel like we’re crazy anymore.


The healing begins when we risk admitting the truth: we are powerless over much in our life. We have driven ourselves crazy trying to be in control, yet it hasn’t worked. Now we must be ready to see that we cannot control another person’s feelings, thoughts and motivation, or how they choose to be in a relationship with us.


We are also powerless over our own dysfunctional behavior, our distorted thinking, our survival habits and our addiction to shame. We have tried to control our thoughts, our behavior, our feelings, ourselves – everything; but it’s all been vain because nothing has changed.


In trying to control ourselves we have pushed ourselves into a corner and suppressed our emotions until we’ve become numb. We’ve also tried to control how others think of us by being the person we think they want to see. In turn, this behavior made us angry - angry with ourselves for denying our real self. And, because we couldn’t express our anger in a healthy way, we became depressed, and may have had to resort to habits (medication, drinking, shopping, compulsive sex etc.) to outrun the depression. In the process, we lost touch with our true selves.


However, we are not helpless. Our parents who ran roughshod over our feelings, which undermined our growth and our ability to learn, taught us helplessness. They told us that we were wrong or that we had to try harder to be the person they wanted us to be. We became helpless when we couldn’t succeed at pleasing them and we continued that trait into our adult relationships.


When we admit the truth about our own limitations, instead of trying to push ourselves to be a false person, we create fertile ground for new growth. By acknowledging that we were, and are, powerless over others, we awaken to a deeper understanding that powerful changes can happen. This is exactly the same as when we break our leg; no amount of trying to control the leg will make it any different. The healing takes place anyway. Admitting we’re powerless over the healing process simply lessens our own hardened will and allows the stress to decrease. In turn, less stress helps the body heal faster.


When we accept our powerlessness, but recognize we are not helpless, we are ready to do the work we need to do to recover from the effects of growing up in a dysfunctional family. We begin to recognize three things:


1.   That our parents were responsible for their inappropriate parenting 

2.   That we were not responsible for the way our parent’s raised us

3.   That we don’t need to fix them


Answer the following questions:

1.     Do you believe you have control over others?

2.     What does it mean to you to feel ‘out of control'?

3.     How do you modify your behavior, as an adult, to keep the control going?

4.     How do others control you?

5.     How has trying to control others created chaos in your life?

6.     How has your worrying about what others think of you affected your life, job and relationships?

7.     How does ‘trying to be perfect' actually manifest as trying to maintain control?

8.     Do you obsess about work, drugs, drink, food or other people to the point where it's become a problem?

9.    Give examples of how your life has become chaotic

10.  Can you see how trying to control has resulted in chaos?

11.  Can you see how powerless you are?

12.  Are you willing to admit that you are powerless over other people - past and present?

13.  Do you know what it means to surrender to your powerlessness?

Looking At Our Powerlessness

Over Others

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