Hello and welcome back! Today we're talking about how to conquer powerlessness. I'll be talking about what creates the feeling of powerlessness, the two forms of powerlessness, and the solution, so you have the knowledge, skills, and tools to conquer powerlessness and have the safety in your life we all deserve. This topic comes from a loyal follower, Kim. If you're a faithful watcher and reader, please get in touch with me about ideas – all of this is meant to help you.
Let's get started with where powerlessness originates? Life. Let's face it. The process of life is overwhelming. There is so much to learn and navigate, from figuring out how to be a parent to relationships to careers. We all go to school for decades to gain knowledge and skills, yet at the heart of powerlessness is a lack of knowledge. If we don't have that knowledge, we don't know what to do. That's an overwhelming powerless position we are all in. That's why I'm always saying there is one solution to these problems: become an expert. Gain the knowledge to develop a skill that evolves into a tool that operates in your life to conquer the problem.
Powerlessness is just a fact of life, but where do we learn the deeper essences of it? Childhood. Parenting. Let's face it: everyone's human and perfectly imperfect. We have all experienced less-than-loving moments in our childhood.
A client was once telling me her childhood was great. She got in touch with me because she's dating men that abandon her. One man forced her out of the car in a snowstorm – she had to walk home. I dug into her childhood: she was raised by a single mother. She said she was abandoned by her mother and raised by her loving aunts. I was struck. Do you see what she said? "I was abandoned by my mother BUT…" There's the minimization. We justify and condone it. We suppress and repress. She is picking men that let her relive the dynamic of her childhood. Did her mother consciously choose to abandon her? Of course not; she had no choice but to go to work. This is what I mean – we are all perfectly imperfect. Her mother had to put food on the table, but her absence left her child feeling abandoned. While my client was telling me of her relationships, she was actually describing her childhood. She just didn't know it. That's why she keeps picking those men. This happens to all of us – it's called The Worst Day Cycle. We all must get over denial and into the truth that we all experienced less-than-nurturing moments in childhood, and they are all replaying in our lives until we heal them.
I experienced this myself. When I was 10, I woke up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. I found my mom passed out naked on the toilet. It's the day I discovered she was an alcoholic. I was horrifically powerless. I spent my teenage years throwing out alcohol, trying to control her drinking. If you've lived with an addict, you know this doesn't work. On the other side, my father always had to be right. He would argue and gaslight me. It was his defense mechanism from his less than loving childhood. It made me totally powerless when I had no way to challenge him. He would make rules and then change them so he could never be wrong – I was utterly powerless. Childhood is the ultimate birthplace of powerlessness – if you look, you will see your current powerlessness is precisely like your childhood.
There's another aspect of parenting most people don't consider. Throughout childhood, all we are told is "no." What do we have to do in those moments? We have to agree. We get conditioned to do what our parents want. Almost all the time, they're telling us good things! Wishing to protect us, but they're like my father many times – they don't want to be wrong. We learn that if we ever say "no," we're bad. This has devastating consequences.
If you want to dig deeper, check out my book Your Journey To Success, where I go into the power of saying no more deeply.
To solve the first example, the first thing to do is:
- Get a piece of paper.
- On one side, put what you can control.
- On the other, put what you can't control. You may want to have separate papers for each topic.
- List out everything.
There are millions of things we have no control over. Yet, we keep trying to control them, which is our problem. Do you see what you can control? Ourselves. Our thoughts, feelings, and actions. That's it. So we create a list to see what sort of things we can see, think, and feel to regain power. There are a million things. Meditate, go on a walk, participate in hobbies that bring joy, work on something that fills your soul. Here's why: when we get in the powerlessness of what we can't control, we go look at the list of what we can control. We should constantly be reminding ourselves what we do have control over and take action. To stop replaying what we can't do, focus on what we can control at that exact moment.
When I was learning about this process, I was going through a divorce. My ex was a narcissist and stealing all the money, so naturally, I was worried. My counselor said one phrase: what can you control? I replied, "the credit cards and the business." I made a plan with what I could control. I opened up new accounts and moved everything over. I took control of anything that was mine. I focused on what I can control. I stopped playing the victim and saying there's nothing I can do. That's just not true! It's all a choice. The second I shifted, my feeling changed, and I became empowered. I saw ideas and solutions and executed them with my behaviors. Powerlessness is gone. Everything turned around. My business was saved.
There's one aspect to the "what I can and can't control" that takes a tremendous amount of patience. Sometimes when we're doing everything right and the problem isn't going away – that means there's a life experience waiting for us, and there's nothing we can do until that happens.
I'll give you an example: I have spent 30 years working on myself. The majority started 17 years ago when I met my mentor. Over ten years, I saw him probably seven years straight. I was working my tail off, but I couldn't get out of all the pain. My life was better, but there was some pain I hadn't healed. During this time, my second wife and I got engaged - my counselor was also a pastor. I asked him if he'd marry us. He said he'd think about it and get back to me. My fiancé at the time was seeing his wife, who was also an expert in this – we were learning the same tools and language, helping our relationship. The following week he says he thought about it and thinks my fiancé and I have a lot of pain to work through, but he'd do it. My initial thought was that he's exercising boundaries and letting us fix it ourselves. Instead, he's appropriately codependent-guarded. What I didn't realize (and I don't think he did either) as if it hadn't been for my second marriage and nearly killing myself, I would have never figured all this out and found peace and freedom. I needed to break myself so severely for me to get peace finally. The divorce was so desperately nasty it made me stop controlling things. I was hyper-vigilant as a kid, trying to figure everything out before it happened. That level of control was killing me. I had done all the recovery work but never given that piece up. Being suicidal made me realize I would die if I didn't give it up. The following two years were spiritual unloading. I saw all the answers. If you're doing all this and it's not working out, you may have a life experience waiting for you. Sit back in your chair and let it come. Focus on what you can control, then let it come.
The first thing to do when a request comes in for anything is say,
You don't have to say yes right away – you owe them nothing. It's your life and decision, so buy yourself some time. Then you have time to work through the process. Now you ask yourself three critical questions:
1- Will I ever keep score that I did this for them?
2- Will I ever throw it in their face that I did this for them?
3- Will I ever have any resentment that I did this for them?
They all mean the same thing, but each person has their way of expressing it – so one of these will work for you. These feelings of resentment are from childhood. We are stuffed with resentment, keeping score and throwing it in their face from childhood. If we ask ourselves these questions and decide we would never do these things – we can say yes. And do it freely - we won't feel powerless.
If you've gone through the process and recognize you may hold whatever it is against them, you use magic phrase number two,
Isn't that beautiful? How do you feel when someone says no to you? You feel attacked because of childhood – you felt attacked back then, and it's the same thing now. If you use this phrase, the other person isn't attacked because you make it about yourself. No matter what they say, they can't talk you out of it – which is a prevalent defense when someone says "no." If someone asks you, "why not?" or "what does that mean?" you can simply keep repeating the phrase. It's magic! I don't care what they throw at you – keep repeating it. They're not your mother or father. Even if they are, you're an adult now. You get to make your own decisions and simply say, "it just doesn't work for me." You don't owe them an explanation unless you want to give it.
Can you feel how powerful that is? It's not condescending or rude, and it has nothing to do with the person making the request. If you say yes, you will resent them, which will create a block to intimacy, and you will be the only one to blame. Realizing that is power, love, and kindness. That is why I always say, "No" is the most loving thing you can speak to someone.
Your solutions to feeling powerless are ways to help you overcome it and live in the empowered state we all deserve. Kim, thank you for a beautiful question. If you want to learn about something, send it to me.
As I always say:
Enjoy The Journey! 🕺🏼
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