The definition of powerlessness is the lack of ability, influence, or power. In recovery this is generally concerning our powerlessness over alcohol/drugs. We can teach women to turn their powerlessness over to a Higher Power or convert their powerlessness into powerfulness which will guide them in their sobriety and into better decision making processes. Accepting the fact that we are powerless over our alcoholism/addiction is one of the first steps in recovery.

To admit or even be mindful of powerlessness is a rarity outside of recovery. Our culture is so entrenched in competing for success that we’re uncomfortable acknowledging the limits of what we can and cannot do, individually. We in recovery are accustomed to living at the extremes of all or nothing. Many of us prove our worth by managing everything and everyone but not ourselves. Even in sobriety, many of us tend not to respect our limitations and we pay too high a price accordingly.

In AA we’re confronted with the reality that “… we were powerless over alcohol…”. For many of us, it’s the first conscious exploration of powerlessness: it’s Step One of the 12-Step program.
At face value, this seems untrue. I have the choice to not drink, therefore I am not powerless over alcohol. Digging a bit deeper it’s clear that we become powerless to control ourselves and the manageability of our lives when we drink.


Acknowledging powerlessness therefore means that we stop trying to do the impossible.
Powerlessness is commonly mistaken for helplessness or hopelessness. It’s actually very simple. There are only two things to consider:

  • what we can control
  • what we cannot

In application, I recommend using the serenity prayer regardless of what a person’s faith is, because all of us are seeking three simple things:

Serenityto accept the things I cannot change (other people).
Courageto change the things that I can (myself).
Wisdomto know the difference. (This is a matter of awareness and acceptance not a lack of ability to make this distinction).

Addiction and survival are always fear-based. Fear makes us crave control. The number one character defect for most of us is that we are control freaks. If we don’t feel like we’re in control of everything in our lives, we feel like we’re out of control personally. We aren’t conscious of our desire to dictate the behavior of others. We seek to influence and persuade, but we manipulate as readily as we draw our next breath. Like a playwright we develop “scripts.” We decide how others should feel, how they should view things, and how they should treat us. We are generally are afraid to simply ask for these things and so we seek strategies to covertly evoke the outcomes we want.

Vulnerability is Key. Vulnerability simplifies everything. Instead of railing against powerlessness or relying on unhealthy ways of getting our needs met, we can simply share our struggles and ask for help in getting our needs met. Our fears of rejection and/or disappointment prevent us from asking friends, family, and folks in recovery. When we allow our fears to dictate our decisions, we suffer. When we choose to see vulnerability as an act of courage rather than weakness, we create possibilities and move more fully toward the person we want to be.

All of this culminates in your choice not to take responsibility for the feelings, beliefs, and actions of others. It allows you to focus more fully on what you are able to offer to yourself and others that is healthy, sustainable, and satisfying. This acceptance creates more harmony and allows you to relate to yourself in a far more loving manner.

Feeling powerlessness will change you. Destiny wants to partner with to help you move from Powerlessness to Powerful! We will help you learn to ask for what you need and stop the manipulation that has affected your relationships. We will help you gain the strength you need to build back trust and to not see yourself as a victim of your life but rather a victor. As a victor, we will help you learn to use strategies to move you forward in your life so you will be able to accomplish your goals.