POSTS: “Needs – 3 categories“
NOTE: It’s important to distinguish between the error of assuming we have no personal power (internal) vs realistic powerlessness over others (external), between what we actually can control & what we can’t, as noted in the Serenity Prayer.
The problem for many of us – as adults – isn’t the lack personal power or discipline. It’s that we’ve invested in agreeing with the Introject voice (bad parent) about being & staying powerless.
ALSO : Personal Power (previous post) is not the same as
Self Discipline, also called self-regulation, which includes strategies that can be learned, with time & effort.
It’s the ability to manage your own emotions & personality weaknesses – a way to do what you think is right, regardless of how badly you’d rather not.
★This can not be done by the Wounded Child, only by the Healthy Adult & Loving Parent working together (the UNIT).
For ACoAs – Our problem is the WIC‘s mistaken but absolute conviction that we have NO power, in any form or circumstance, that we neither have the ability nor the right to ask for & receive legitimate needs & desires, nor to achieve longed-for goals.
POWERLESSNESS – as adults – is that awful sense of personal inadequacy to get our needs met, & the overwhelming helplessness to handle stressful situations. This leaves us feeling anxious, frustrated & depressed. It’s become a paralysis of the will – an inability to freely express opinions, make decisions or assert personal choices.
Trauma is a major source of powerlessness. Experienced too often as a child, the paralysis becomes permanently imprinted by brain wiring, later on causing us to ‘over-react’ to similar stressors – freezing, panicking or acting out in anger when the original trauma is triggered.
Long exposure to abuse also causes dissociation – the dazed, trance-like body / mind state automatically used as an extreme survival mechanism, by numbing physical sensations & emotions. The child’s freeze-mode became excessive worry & anxiety – walking on eggshells. These are ‘normal’ responses to powerlessness.
ACoAs – As adults, a fundamental way we experience powerlessness comes from theToxic Belief that we are permanently ineffectual in the world – that it’s not possible for us to ever have any impact on other people or our environment. “So why even try!”
The adults we grew up with were internally powerless
a. ABOUT THEM : They passed it down to us in the form of being weak / terrible role models. Children need parents to be strong & confident so they can feel safe. This was not available to us.
Most of us grew up before computers & cell phones. So substitute anything your parents were focused on – which took their attention away from you.
EXP: Alcohol, drugs, food, work / business travel, sports, anxiety, depression, rage, illness / death, perfectionism, a sibling or another relative, their friends, even each other
b. TOWARD US : Day after day, year after year they dumped their damage on us by constant criticism, shaming & neglect (denying us many good things), too many restrictions & expectations, inconsistent or contradictory demands, isolating us, physical & sexual abuse….
Actual result: all our efforts to connect were ‘in vain’ no matter how hard we tried. Back then we really did have little or no effect on them to provide our legitimate childhood needs.
We got the message loud & clear that we didn’t count, were a great bother, weren’t worth their effort, or were just plain invisible. Under those conditions, the only conclusion any child can come to is that :
“IF my parents – who are supposed to love & care for me – don’t want me around, or can’t stand who or what I am,
THEN no one else will either – ever.” That’s just plain logic, isn’t it?
They blamed us for whatever went wrong, & we blamed ourselves for everything that hurt. We couldn’t understand that the problem was who we were stuck with – rather than some inability in us to connect!
So we assumed we would always be powerless to get thru to every one else.
NEXT : ACoA powerlessness (1a)