Now Reading
Power–Powerlessness Mix-up: Recognizing That You Have Fallen Into the Trap Will Help You Reclaim Your Power

Power–Powerlessness Mix-up: Recognizing That You Have Fallen Into the Trap Will Help You Reclaim Your Power

  • Such empowered action can truly help you achieve lasting well-being in all aspects of your life.

You have been dating a young, handsome, charming guy. You really like him and hope he is equally attracted to you as well. But somehow you can never tell if he is as invested in the relationship as you are. He is a man of very few words. Every time you see him you feel butterflies in your stomach. Is that a spark or anxiety?

You have been recently hired at this dream job and you have exciting creative ideas for your team. Within the first few weeks, you find out that your team members are completely checked out, incompetent, and are resisting your every idea for change. After months of trying various strategies, you realize that a couple of them need to be fired. You take these issues to your boss. He says that perhaps you need some communications training and better motivational skills.

Your parents-in-law are planning a visit for a week. Every time they visit your mother-in-law takes over the household and the parenting of the children. Your father-in-law blares the television and watches Fox News all day long. Your wife says that she cannot dream of saying anything to her parents because they are just there for a week and that you should be more compassionate and understanding.

Your daughter is married with two young children. You notice that over the past ten years that she has been married, you have financially bailed her out several times because she has a husband who is reckless in his spending and believes that he is living life fearlessly and spontaneously.

What is the common thread in all these stories?

When I hear such stories from my clients, the common feelings that come up are anger, anxiety, powerlessness, helplessness, and hopelessness to name a few.

But what is the core issue?

The teacher Robert Ohotto says that the core issue is falling into the “Power/Powerlessness Mix-Up trap.

What does that mean?

· Thinking that you have power where you don’t and grabbing for it.

· Where you do have power feeling afraid of owning your power because of what it might shift in the relationship or what you might lose — connection, belonging, love. Afraid of speaking your truth.

· As a result, getting emotionally triggered.

· Mentally obsessing about the situation and falling into compulsive thinking and obsessively re-enacting various scenarios in your head.

Ohotto astutely makes an observation that people tend to obsess about something when they haven’t told themselves the truth about their situation. When you finally get to the core of the truth and tell yourself the complete truth, the obsession and compulsivity deactivates.

What are the indicators that tell you that you have fallen into this trap?

· You get emotionally triggered. You may feel anxious, afraid, worried, violated, sad, depressed, revengeful, rageful, insecure, confused.

· You obsess about the situation and fall into compulsive thinking about the solutions none of which work.

· You fall into the shame trap — fear of what might happen, blaming yourself and the other person, acting out, lashing out at others or lashing at yourself and doing self-injurious behaviors.

· Your shadow archetypes come out and feed you false power stories about how much power you have in the situation.

· You start indulging in power fantasies that you have fed into your psyche. Sometimes power fantasies have some elements of truth mixed in with fantasies. Your wounded ego buys into them. Unfortunately, you notice that nothing about the situation changes externally.

What are these false power stories and who makes them up?

Some of the shadow archetypes that come out when we have fallen into this trap are the Perfectionist, Victim, Bully, Gossiper, Coward, Addict, Magical Thinker, Co-dependent Empath, Shadow Rescuer, Conspiracy Theorist, Peace-Maker, People-Pleaser, and so on.

And what false stories do they tell you?

· You are the problem. Somehow you are not enough. You can fill in the blanks. And if only you were more perfect, you could have handled the situation better or never gotten into it in the first place. (Perfectionist)

· You come up with a quick fix by-pass solutions that lets you to believe that you are hacking life. You primarily do this to avoid the short-term discomfort of leaning into your power to speak the truth and set boundaries. (People-pleaser, Peace maker)

· You completely avoid looking at yourself and your shadow archetypes. You tell yourself that your situation is unique and no one else would truly understand or be able to help you. You avoid seeking therapy or any other form of introspection. (Victim)

· You develop an inability to perceive and tolerate the painful reality of your situation and therefore choose denial instead. (Coward)

· You fear the choices you have to make by listening to your intuitive guidance and therefore ignore it. (Codependent empath)

· Your inability to be with uncertainty about the future outcome of the situation makes you want to control the situation. (Control freak, bully)

· You fear abandonment and the resulting loss of connection and belonging. You desperately try to cling to the person or the situation and fear change. (Shadow rescuer, caretaker)

· You come up with false possibilities for peace and tell yourself that you cannot stomach a true war for lasting change. (Peacemaker, conflict avoider)

What do true power stories look like?

· An accurate assessment of where you have power to change your life

· What that change will require of you — physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, spiritually and so on.

· An internal check of whether or not you currently have the required empowerment to pull it off

· What steps you might need to take in this situation to reclaim your power.

See Also

· What kind of resources and help you might need to take the next steps.

· Practicing courage and vulnerability to tap into your community network.

What does Empowerment feel like?

· Capacity to influence others

· Capacity to control self (emotions, behaviors)

· Access to adequate resources to achieve goals

· Healthy boundary setting

· Being in alignment with the truth of the situation

· Making conscious choices from an emotionally intelligent place

Now let’s come full circle and look at the mix-up issues in the scenarios that I described earlier. What is the truth of the situation and what possible actions could help you reclaim your power?

1. Recognize the butterflies in your stomach as anxiety from dating an emotionally avoidant person. This is not a spark and it is not good for you. Sit him down and clearly articulate your needs and intentions. Notice how he responds and proceed further in a way that honors you.

2. Recognize that your boss has set you up to fail. Chronic illnesses are often tied to work situations where you have responsibility with no authority. Negotiate with your boss what you will need to succeed in this job. If it looks like nothing will change, start looking for another position.

3. Recognize that your wife is a people pleaser and does not have healthy boundaries with her parents. Sit her down and talk openly about your needs in the relationship. If necessary, seek couples counseling so you can learn healthy boundary setting.

4. Recognize that you have been shadow rescuing your daughter thereby enabling her to not address the issues in her marriage. Stop bailing her out and treat her like a competent adult. Support her in reclaiming her power in the relationship whether she chooses to stay or leave.

Recognizing when you have fallen into this trap can truly help you assess the situation accurately and seek the right corrective action to reclaim your power in any situation. Such action must be born out of healthy self-esteem, deep self-awareness, alignment with the truth of the situation, and honoring your inner spiritual guidance. Such empowered action can truly help you achieve lasting well-being in all aspects of your life.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. — Serenity Prayer

Vinutha Mohan is a California-based licensed marriage and family therapist specializing in trauma. Before her avatar as a therapist, she spent over 15 years in the corporate world.

What's Your Reaction?
In Love
Not Sure
View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

© 2020 American Kahani LLC. All rights reserved.

The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and editorial policies of American Kahani.
Scroll To Top