FREED Life Counseling

Overcoming Powerlessness

Trauma and secondary trauma often lead to feeling powerless. Think back to trauma you endured or witnessed at any point in your life and you will most likely remember not being able to stop what occurred. This may be because you were too afraid, too surprised to react in time, or not physically powerful enough to stop the event. You may even have been threatened. As far as secondary trauma, the event may have been over before you knew it occurred, you were too far away to stop it, or you didn’t realize it was occurring.

Roots of Powerlessness

Powerlessness leads to anger, fear, a loss of self, feeling unworthy of setting boundaries and allowing others to control areas of your life that you do not want them to control. There is an underlying belief of helplessness. It is difficult to believe you have power over yourself when someone else repeatedly controls or harms your body and mind and breaks your spirit through repetitive abuse or trauma. This starts a pattern of a false belief of being powerless and there is a deep emotional healing that needs to occur. 

My Struggles with Powerlessness

The best I can do to explain it is share some of my own life. I felt like powerlessness was a running theme throughout my life. I was not able to stand up for myself or set boundaries with others emotionally or physically, and this led to spending a lot of my time depressed, unhappy with myself and believing a lie that I was unable to control my life.  I actually believed that I did not have the right to set boundaries with others.  As I entered into addiction, I also came to a point where I believed I was powerless over my addiction. I remember having a thought that I wish something would happen to me where I had no choice but to take control of my life, or someone would tell me what to do to fix my life and I would just do it. Not surprisingly, there was no counselor, church, friend, or rehab that could tell me what to do and make me do it. I finally realized that I was powerless over my addiction if I CONTINUED to use alcohol and drugs, but I had the power to STOP and that was totally in my control. 

Becoming Empowered

I went from believing I was powerless to slowly becoming empowered. Once I established that I had the power to quit drugs and alcohol, I realized that I had the power to end unhealthy relationships and set boundaries in relationships I wanted to keep. This was definitely not an overnight process, and it is a continuous process. Gradually the steps I took to control my life increased and my confidence grew. 

I believe that my relationship with Jesus was the catalyst to becoming more empowered. I finally was able to get sober after praying and asking God to help me and I would do whatever He wanted to get help. The day after praying this I finally admitted my addiction to others and took all the help that was offered, believing it was God intervening, and went to an inpatient facility. This started my walk of faith, sobriety, and empowerment. Through my relationship with Jesus, studying the Bible and applying the Bible to my life, I learned the difference between power, empowerment, and how in certain circumstances making a choice to submit, especially to Jesus, can be very empowering

Seeking Empowerment for Yourself

The truth is that my story is not unique: we are all powerless over many life circumstances. For example ,being hurt by someone, unexpected medical issues, trauma experienced as a child or adult, and other people’s negative and/or hurtful behaviors. We ALL have power over our thoughts, actions and behaviors, and how we choose to move forward after trauma or secondary trauma. I learned that I did not have to keep reliving my past and instead could let go of my past, and you can too.  If you’d like to share your story or have any questions or comments contact me at

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