You look at your life, your family, education, and many other things and wonder how anyone could ever call you powerless. You definitely don’t want to refer to yourself as powerless.

The truth is, we are all powerless in certain situations. When a client or friend relapses, I’m powerless to help them get back to the point of stopping. You can’t force it, you can’t make it happen any faster, because it’s up to them.

Illness brings a sense of powerlessness, family struggles and dysfunction, people liking us or disliking us, all things we have no control over.

And, for many of us, that includes drinking.

For some, the word ‘powerless’ sends them running for the hills.

That’s the real reason this word has so much power, because it hits a little too close to home.

Working with addiction for so many years I have come to realize that there’s a lot of misconception around this particular word, among others. There are a lot of assumptions around what the word stands for and what it says about us as individuals.

The word powerless is used in 12 steps and says “We’re powerless over alcohol”, the keyword there is alcohol. Not that you are powerless in your life, not that you are weak, not that you can’t help yourself, simply, powerless over alcohol.

That means, when I start drinking I have no control over what may happen to me. I might be perfectly fine. And I might not. I may get home safely, or I may get a DUI, or get in a fight with my partner, or drive my kids home from soccer practice after sneaking one too many cups of wine from the sidelines.

The word powerless isn’t about you or your character, it’s about control. Or lack thereof.

So here we are, breaking it down and getting to the bottom of the misconceptions of powerlessness.

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