The role of powerlessness in recovery is a wonderful paradox. At first glance, one might think that powerlessness suggests vulnerability or defenselessness. But in actuality, powerlessness is the better advantage.

As with all recovery tools, the secret is awareness. Powerlessness is an awareness of where the true power lies. Armed with this awareness, a recovering co-dependent is freed from the insanity of power and control games.

For example, I am powerless over a family member's addiction. I jeopardize my own sanity when I invest my own emotional time and energy into figuring out how to coerce, control, or threaten another person into giving up their addiction. I can best help that person with a professionally-guided intervention that keeps me out of the middle.

The same is true for separation, divorce, abuse, and any other relationship issue. I am powerless over the parties involved; however, I do have the power to help them get professional help. I have the power to let go and let God handle situations. I have the power to own my power when others try to exercise power and control over me.

I have the power to choose my responses to a given situation, rather than jumping in and getting enmeshed in someone else's stuff. I have the power to maintain my own serenity and sanity and take care of myself, with the help of my Higher Power.

Dear God, help me to see when I am powerless over people and situations and turn those people and situations over to You. Help me to own and exercise the power I have to care for myself, so I can be the best, whole person I can be. Help me to remember that knowing where the true power lies is a clean, healthy gift I can give others.

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APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, December 19). Powerlessness, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Last Updated: August 8, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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