One of the hardest lessons we needed to learn in the program was powerlessness. We used to think that we had the power to control other people. If they only did it our way; then everything would be fine. “If only my wife would stop nagging me about my drinking, then our relationship would be so much better”. Or, “if only my boss saw how good a worker I was, then I would finally get that raise”. Or, if only my children took my advice about career choice, then they would be successful”. Usually an old timer brought us back to reality by asking, “so how’s that working out for you”? When asked that question we began to realize that we really were powerless over people, places and things. Our powerlessness extended far beyond controlling our drug of choice. It extended to our spouses, children, employers, parents, friends, and institutions. That realization was indeed humbling.
Along the way, we discovered something else. Yes, we were powerless over others, but they were powerless over us as well. Ultimately, no one could make us do something, or feel something unless we allowed them to do so. For a long time we played the role of victim in life. We came to see that this was also a choice. Others could not exercise power over us unless we granted them the right to do so.
Personal Reflection: Is powerlessness a one or two street for me?