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How Does Admitting “Powerlessness” Work Against Us?

Many addiction self-help programs advocate admitting we’re powerless over our addictions, our emotions and our mental illnesses as part of our recovery. The idea is to admit we need help and support, to lean on our higher power for strength, and to stop feeling as though we’re invincible, which can actually hold us back in the long run. For many of us, though, this idea of admitting powerlessness can actually work against us. For much of our lives, we’ve felt truly powerless, over our addictive patterns, over our toxic thought patterns, our emotions, our behaviors and our choices. For many of us, when we realized we weren’t actually powerless in our addictions and in our lives, we were finally able to turn things around for ourselves and make positive changes in our lives. How can believing we’re powerless ultimately work against us?

Our addictions and mental health issues feed off of and thrive off of our feelings of weakness and powerlessness. When we feel as though we’re not strong enough to withstand addictive urges or pull ourselves out of a depressive episode, for example, we’re perpetuating the limiting beliefs that we aren’t strong enough, capable enough, or empowered enough to live happy, healthy lives. We start to believe that our addictions and mental illnesses define us, that they are stronger than we are, and that they ultimately have control over our lives. When we start to fight back against our illnesses, and when we start to really believe in ourselves, that’s when we open ourselves to being able to heal. That’s when transformation becomes possible for us.

The conscious act of admitting we’re powerless over our addictions can actually give them more power over us. It’s as though we’re giving away our power rather than claiming it for ourselves. It’s one thing to readily admit that our addictions are illnesses, and that they are debilitating, and we should work to believe that we’re not wrong, shameful or unworthy if we’re suffering from them. We want to remove the shame and feelings of inadequacy, the stigmatization and harmful stereotypes around addiction so that we can feel comfortable and empowered to speak our truth and admit we’re addicts. When we seek to admit we’re powerless over our addictions, however, we’re reinforcing the very limiting beliefs that we are weak, that we don’t have the strength for self-actualization, and that we can’t develop the willpower, resilience and inner determination needed to recover.

If you’re struggling with addiction, you’re not alone. Reach out for support. The community of Riverside Recovery has personal experience with addiction and recovery. We’re here to help you reclaim the life you love. Call (800) 871-5440 today.