Admitting Powerlessness Is an Act of Courage

Apr 9, 2022

What comes to mind when you think of the word courage? Perhaps you think of your role models or superheroes you admired as a child. Maybe you think back to a favorite movie in which the lead plays a brave, strong, risk-taking character who saves the day in the end. One word that likely does not come to mind when you think of a courageous character is powerless. However, admitting powerlessness by facing the facts and acknowledging that you have lost control takes major guts and is truly an act of courage. 

What Is Powerlessness?

Powerlessness means loss or lack of control. This can mean different things for different individuals struggling with alcohol or drug abuse. It might mean feeling completely incapable of making what you know is the right decision. It might feel like a continuum of impulsivity and repetition for others. Powerlessness could even mean consistent lying or stealing, with the inability to cease because the driving force behind these actions is so strong. 

Regardless of what powerlessness might mean or look like to someone struggling with substance abuse, admitting this is your current reality and you have lost control can be incredibly difficult. No one wants to believe they have lost control over their own lives. Often, however, recovery cannot begin without first coming to this conclusion. 

For everyone battling drug or alcohol addiction, powerlessness means that despite every effort to make a change or practice self-control, the effect that substances have on the brain remains the same. Thus, admitting powerlessness means you have accepted the reality that you need help. This is a tremendous act of courage. 

Why Is Admitting Powerlessness Courageous?

Coming to terms with the fact that your life has become unmanageable due to your addiction can be terrifying. However, this acknowledgment means that you understand that you need help and have already taken the first step toward recovery. 

Asking for or needing help is something many adults struggle with. Reasons for this reluctance can include anything from pride to not wanting to appear needy or viewed as burdensome. For those battling addiction, overwhelming shame, guilt, or even denial can prevent you from seeking the help you desperately need. 

Overcoming this sense of shame and denial and admitting you need support can leave you feeling pretty vulnerable. This vulnerability that stems from the admission of powerlessness, however, is what leads to treatment and eventual recovery. Asking for help requires far more strength than continuing to try to manage your addiction independently. This admission and willingness to accept assistance is the key to successful recovery!

Step One

The admission of powerlessness is defined as Step One in 12-Step programs. This revelation is often followed by recording or considering each detail of your addiction, with the intention of disclosing this information. This process involves revisiting past failures, really considering the consequences of your addiction, and fully grasping the gravity of the situation. 

During this phase of recovery, 12-Step meetings may be implemented, which allows for sharing experiences among peers with similar circumstances. The support and positive feedback received from the group can be of great benefit. This peer reinforcement is especially helpful when feelings of shame and guilt arise.

Step One involves tremendous reflection and honesty about your struggles. This can be incredibly humbling and motivating as you have now gained a clearer vision of what you cannot control, what you can control, and the steps you need to take to reach sobriety. It is during this stage that those struggling with addiction begin to feel empowered through the acceptance of their powerlessness over addiction.

From Powerless to Empowered

Powerless can sound like a pretty negative term, but there is a silver lining. Understanding what you are powerless over, such as the way drugs or alcohol affect you, allows you to focus on what you do have control of. You control your actions. Realizing you have taken the first step toward treatment and are in control of following the path to recovery is very empowering. 

There is great power in reaching and moving beyond this first step toward recovery. Many people struggling with addiction find new confidence or a sense of self-understanding after admitting powerlessness. This new level of realization and self-awareness can leave you feeling much more confident.

The courage required to seek treatment and ask for help is immense. Breaking this barrier to recovery can often be the most difficult, making the rest of the journey feel more manageable. This should provide you with the assurance that you can be successful and live the life you desire. 

Admitting powerlessness is difficult in any circumstance. If you are battling addiction, coming to this reality is the first step toward recovery and can often be the most trying. Acknowledging a lack of control takes tremendous courage, as does disclosing this truth in order to seek and be open to receiving help. Suppressing feelings of guilt and shame and taking this bold first step can mean beginning a new, happier, and healthier life. Renaissance Ranch can guide you during this difficult first step and support you throughout treatment and your journey to recovery. We utilize the traditional 12-Step approach combined with spiritual principles, family involvement, cognitive therapy, and recreational therapy to provide a well-rounded and holistic treatment experience catered to your needs. If you are impacted by alcohol or drug abuse and are ready to take back control of your life, call us today at (801) 308-8898. Healing begins with Renaissance Ranch.