No More Power

My recent horoscope summed things up nicely for me this month: “Now is the time to heal and deal.” I’ve never been one to be particularly good at either (healing pain from the past or dealing with issues head-on) and despite the major improvements yoga and meditation have brought to my life, there is still work to be done. There is always work to be done.

Now, as a turbulent summer comes to an end and fall commences, all signs in my life point to the fact that I simply cannot avoid dealing with the residual “stuff” any longer.

When Hurricane Irene hit the east coast a few weeks ago, I looked at photos of the damage it did to my parents’ road and thousands of homes and businesses in the Vermont area. Roads were literally washed away. Boulders and trees came tumbling down mountains, destroying everything in their path. It was a mud-soaked war zone…an unimaginable mess that did not compute with Vermonters who revered the tranquility, peace and beauty of their land. It took me awhile before I understood how the physical destruction left behind by the hurricane showed us how too much of anything (eg., wind, rain, stress, pressure) can shake a beautiful foundation and make it crumble. As painful and as incomprehensible as it is, nature breaks us so that we can rebuild.

As I move through the murky waters of recent events in my own life, I realize over and over again how little control we have over what others do. We can intervene and impose our belief systems on another (e.g., by saying, “You need to get help” or “You need to give me another chance”) but if the person on the receiving end of our insistence is not ready…or simply doesn’t agree…there is nothing we can do.

Melody Beattie talks about an acceptance of powerlessness as the secret to healing…and dealing.

When we claim powerlessness, we are not claiming irresponsibility. We have no power to control others, what they do, what they did, or what they might do. We’re stating that we’re willing to end an ineffective life based on willpower and control…We cannot control what others do, but we can choose our own behaviors and our own course of action.

For most of my life, I have tried to regain power and order when things have spiraled out of control. When things got tough in my life, I cleaned like a maniac. I used my Pledge-soaked rag to sweep away mental turmoil. I vacuumed a perfectly clean rug just to suck up the pain. I now realize that it’s okay not to take action when things run amuck. I can “deal” by accepting powerlessness (and rejecting any stigma attached to that word) and knowing that nature has a way of working things out on its own. Letting things unfold as they will is the only way. But in my case, it sure makes for a messy house.

2 Replies to “No More Power”

  1. “Go with the flow” is how I’ve learned to deal with control issues. Being burned time and again by thinking things were a certain way only to find out that something or someone comes along and changes everything, I try to concentrate on living in the present. Dwelling on past disappointments or worrying about the future are just a waste of time and energy and take away from living each day to the fullest as best we can. I think that’s where our faith takes over, believing that the events in our lives will unfold for the best in the long run. And when we come to the realization that happiness comes from within and that only we have the power to control our own attitude, truly makes a difference in the overall quality of our lives.

  2. Great post Maeve. I am currently throwing my hands up and surrendering to things in my own life. It feels liberating to let go and life will be simpler if I continue doing this for the rest of my journey. It’s tiring carrying my disappointments around weather they be over relationships or jobs. Better to drop it all, move forward lighter and happier appreciating what actually is.

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