Embracing Our Sense of Powerlessness: A Path to Empowerment
Feeling powerless is a familiar feeling that has crossed my path numerous times throughout my life. I vividly recall the first instance when I was just 13 years old. Anxious and unsure, my mother took me to the doctor, her voice filled with concern and reassurance. We waited for our appointment without knowing what was really going on. Upon returning home that evening, my mother explained that the doctors had discovered a cyst—not a life-threatening condition, but it left an indelible mark on my soul. I experienced a mix of sadness, fear, and hurt, questioning why it happened to me and if I somehow deserved it.
The experience of powerlessness can be terrifying and profoundly isolating. It often plunges us into shame and self-judgment for simply feeling powerless, making us feel utterly alone. However, we tend to forget that powerlessness is an intrinsic human condition, one that each and every one of us experiences, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.
Allowing ourselves to embrace feelings of powerlessness requires vulnerability, a state many of us try to evade by attempting to control our environment or blaming others. Yet, vulnerability is an integral part of being human. Through the practice of sitting with our feelings and accepting our vulnerability, we discover a newfound sense of freedom. We also realize that everyone faces similar struggles in life and that authentic sharing of our emotions deepens our connections with others.
By granting ourselves permission to connect with our sense of powerlessness—without judgment or shame—we create space for new possibilities to enter our lives. This act of self-regulation alleviates overwhelm and becomes a liberating, healing step toward empowerment.
Of course, the idea of embracing powerlessness may be overwhelming, as humans are wired to avoid pain. However, it’s crucial to remember that there is no “happily ever after.” Life consists of a series of moments and experiences that bring both joy and pain. When we view our power struggles within the larger context of this ebb and flow, we can make wiser decisions about how to navigate them in the future.
To overcome a sense of powerlessness, we must first accept it.
Acceptance does not equate to resignation or giving up. It is not about being passive or allowing others to take advantage of us. Acceptance means acknowledging our situation and working from that point forward. It serves as a pivotal initial step in creating change in our lives and turning things around for the better.
Accepting powerlessness does not imply that there is nothing left for us to do. On the contrary, it grants us permission to take care of ourselves while allowing time and space to figure out the next steps on our journey of healing and recovery, or any other path we seek.
Acceptance is akin to giving ourselves the gift of time—a moment to rest, relax, and breathe deeply in order to prioritize self-care. When we feel powerless, it becomes challenging to discern the best course of action. This often leads to anxiety or panic. However, by accepting the present moment and refraining from attempts to change it, we create room for thoughtful reflection. This, in turn, enables us to move forward with enhanced clarity and purpose, surpassing impulsive reactions driven solely by raw emotion.
Acceptance is key.
Acceptance is not synonymous with resignation.
Acceptance is not synonymous with giving up.
Acceptance is not synonymous with giving in.
Acceptance does not entail giving up on ourselves or others.
Acceptance does not mean surrendering our goals and dreams. Instead, it entails recognizing the power that lies within feeling powerless—a paradoxical concept. There are aspects of life beyond our control.
If we allow ourselves to feel and experience our powerlessness fully, it can help us to purge the need for control. When we feel powerless, we often try to regain control by trying harder or doing more or driving our sense of perfection. But when we accept that there’s nothing we can do about something that has happened or is happening in our lives, then we can let go of those feelings and move on with greater ease.
Author Mike Fisher