Sometimes I feel like my middle name shouldn’t be “Happy”, it should be “Taboo” as I seem to gravitate toward topics that are generally unwanted, unaccepted and judged as bad. Powerlessness is one of those dear friends.
The Joy-Based Living community is like Gold’s gym for radical self-awareness. It’s designed for the most enthusiastic self-awareness weight-lifters. WE ARE EXPLORERS, PIONEERS AND DEVOTEES. And I absolutely love every one of us who enters the wholehearted conversation to work-out our muscles of emotional literacy, self-acceptance, spirituality and well-being.
What does powerlessness have to do with all those goodies?
For me, powerlessness was the heaviest weight to lift in the inner-gym of self-acceptance, self approval and self-love. This inner-gym is my centerpoint for healing emotional trauma.
As a first gen Brooklyn-girl born with Jewish, Israeli feist and smarts, powerlessness wasn’t in my repertoire of acceptable emotions. It just wasn’t. Not on any level.
The challenge my little soul faced on a daily basis was an onslaught of narcissistic patriarchal messages which were perpetuated by both the men and the women within the family. The main message: play small, stay small.
I Don’t Think So! is a children’s book I wrote for my inner child in response to these enslaving messages. The funny story ended up bringing a lot of laughter and relatability not only to me but also to lots of other kids and their parents which made me feel good.
But as an adult, I longed for a space where people could grow healthier and stronger emotional habits and self-identity constructions. When it comes to self-awareness, it’s so much easier and more effective when you have other people to work-out with, especially since our emotions and our identities are definitely influenced by other people. At JBL, our social interactions have helped us all increase our sense of presence and aliveness. We are no longer afraid to face or embrace ANY FEELING. We have become warriors.
Powerlessness can actually be felt throughout the body. I learned that it was my resistance to feelings of powerlessness that actually added weight to the already-heavy emotion.
Powerlessness taught me how much power I have because each time I accepted the sensations rather than denying them, rejecting them, dismissing them or shaming them – I actually gained – viola! – a sense of power. With each emotional bench press, I built inner strength, stamina, resilience and greater self-love.
With growing self-approval, the brain’s reticular activating system becomes open to see options and possibilities that you weren’t able to see before. That’s the part of your brain that follows the law: What you focus your attention on grows or Where your attention goes, energy flows.
The more freedom I experience on the inside, the more I see evidence of it on the outside. And that changes everything. True self-acceptance not only heals the old, but it liberates us to see new possibilities, options and opportunities. We liberate ourselves to take powerful action. Unconflicted and unrestricted. Truly free.
The beauty of powerlessness is that once you accept the sensation rather than denying it, rejecting it, dismissing it or shaming it – you actually gain a sense of freedom and power. It’s not that I don’t ever feel small anymore. It’s that I’m no longer willing to fight it, resist it or feel ashamed about it. And that self-acceptance is the heartbeat of my liberation.
Debbie Happy Cohen, founder of Joy-Based Living, is a passionate explorer of the grander mysteries of life, all paradoxes included.
7 thoughts on “The beauty of powerlessness”
Jeez!!! Learning about my brain’s “recticular activating system” and its relationship to self-approval,more options, freedom and peace? All on a rainy Wednesday morning? What’s not to like?! Thanks, Debbie, for another insightful, inspiring post! Rock On!
This is a BIG ONE! Thank you for articulating this acceptance of paradox. I am oddly excited & yet a little disgusted at the idea of embracing powerlessness.
I know! It’s so weird… reminds me of eating oysters or drinking beer for the first time. The former, I came to love… the latter, meh.
For what it’s worth, Juli, “embracing powerlessness,” though certainly challenging/”disgusting” for me when I first consciously began practicing it (as part of using a 12 Steps program in my life), eventually showed itself to be one of the most empowering action steps I can take when confronted with situations that call for it. And while embracing powerlessness could be considered a rather Zen, counter-intuitive (or even New Age-y) approach to dealing with this or that issue that arises, I’m grateful I’ve become more familiar with utilizing it (and its corollary, ‘acceptance’) in daily life… since it’s aided me greatly with each application. Best wishes! 🙂
I second what Willy said. I shared my perspective from the 12-Step view on Facebook. I hope many people read this blog post. Thank you Debbie for speaking into this topic.