How many times have you felt stuck in your recovery or in other areas of your life? Have you ever felt powerless against your eating disorder or powerless in areas of your life making you want your eating disorder even more?
These two states of being are extremely powerful forces in one’s recovery, and in life as a whole. You can either allow them to debilitate you, or help move you to a better place.
In the past month or so, I have felt these two states of being particularly powerfully, not in my eating disorder recovery because I have achieved a recovery that is sacred and won’t be damaged by these states of being, but in several areas of life. It made me think of how difficult life is for my clients when they feel “stuck” and/or “powerless” and how often we experience this in life, and in recovery. Feeling stuck and powerless also forced me to make some decisions. The first decision I had to make was based on one question? “Do I FEEL stuck and powerless, or AM I actually stuck and powerless?” The first part of the question indicates that the way that I feel doesn’t necessarily reflect reality. The other reflects a different scenario entirely. In either case, something needed to be addressed. Through my process, I was much more clearly able to see my clients’ difficulties and thus hopefully enable me to help them more effectively.
Three clients come to mind when I think of being “stuck and powerless”. One is stuck in a few areas of life and therefore feels somewhat powerless. The second is stuck at a place in recovery, is tempted to not push to go further, and is having urges to go back to using eating disordered behaviors to “feel” more “powerful”. The third feels powerless in her life, and historically turns to eating disordered behaviors to distract herself from the issues in life and when she feels badly about herself, thus perpetuating the feelings of powerlessness. All three feel a bit defeated, and I can understand why.
Mirriam Webster defines powerless as:
1. Devoid of strength or resources
2. Lacking the authority or capacity to act
Stuck means “firmly positioned in place and difficult to dislodge”. Related words are: bonded, cemented, glued, anchored, clamped, embedded, entrenched, impacted, implanted, attached, bound, fastened, secured, immovable, unyielding.
No wonder these two states of being are difficult to manage.
If you are experiencing these issues, first stop to think and reflect on the first definition of powerless. Are you truly devoid of strength or resources? Do you completely lack the authority or capacity to act?
Often individuals feel a sense of powerlessness as a result of events of the past. Many individuals learned early on that speaking up for what they needed would be met with negative consequences. This learned helplessness or powerlessness is often perpetuated through adulthood, even when the events are in the past.
You may often think you have no strength left, and your resources aren’t plentiful, BUT dig deeper than you ever have before and look for even the teeniest bit of strength to help you through. It is in there. It may be hidden, but it is inside you and you can find it. You also may need to look even harder for resources and “safe” people. They are out there in all sorts of places – in friends, acquaintances, organizations, religious and other spiritual leaders, therapists, teachers, family members, online resources. If you feel you have exhausted all your resources, begin a new search. Remember also, that YOU are your biggest resource. If you think you lack the capacity to act, reflect on the reasons you think that way. Are you basing your reasons on your past experiences or cognitive distortions (distortions of truth), or are you basing them on facts. Ask someone you trust to help you. Maybe you are unable to “see” ways you can act because you are deeply entrenched in the negative feelings that you have lost healthy perspective. Maybe you cannot act now, because of certain circumstances that are beyond your control, but perhaps you can come up with a plan to act within a certain time frame. You need to continue to search and search for ways to improve your situation.
During the times when you are “stuck” at a place in recovery or in life – firmly positioned in place, embedded or entrenched, try to imagine it as an opportunity. Being stuck is a clue that perhaps you aren’t ready for the next step. What is the next step? Is it too big? Have you not prepared well enough for it? Are you scared? What is expected of you if you take that step? Is it too unfamiliar? Do you need more time? Do you need to strategize more? Are you afraid of you take that step, there’s no turning back? Are you afraid to trust the process and take the leap of faith? Do you not have the confidence that you will be successful? Pay attention to the thoughts and feelings that are coming up, the powerful thoughts and feelings as well as the subtle ones. Also pay attention to your eating disordered thoughts. When we are stuck, we often revert back to wanting our eating disordered behaviors as a distraction or to sabotage our progress. In my opinion, being stuck is progress in itself, if you use it wisely.
Below are a few quotes that I thought might help you get “unstuck” and reclaim your power!
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
You can be absolutely certain that when you feel you are being most unfairly tested, you are being prepared for great achievement. – Napoleon Hill
Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart…. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. – Carl Jung
All growth is a leap in the dark, a spontaneous unpremeditated act without benefit of experience. – Henry Miller
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