Posts Tagged ‘powerless’

Places of gratitude

June 1, 2010

In my quest for the perfect life, I often find myself trapped in motion to fix all that is wrong with me, others, and the world at large. I believe the only beings safe from my efforts are wild animals and plants. Anything growing within my household, however, is fair game for fixing . . . including the Magic cat and philodendrons.

Whatever I focus on tends to grow, including people and places that need fixing. The little litany trailing through my head is “Well, THAT is just wrong.” Just as I saw that I am powerless over everything outside of me, so I see that nearly everything occurring in the world (with the exception of those lions, tigers, and bears), is just flat out WRONG.

It is exhausting keeping up with everything that needs fixing. All it takes is one view of the headlines and I want to reabsorb myself into a cocoon somewhere and become a hermit.

So, I thought to myself (there’s a surprise, right?), and I said, “Self, if looking at being powerless and finding all the wrong stuff seems to make it multiply, why don’t you look for what is right in your world and find what you can be grateful for? Maybe that will multiply, too!”

What got me started was the gratitude journal I am keeping for my graduate class at Loyola. Each day, I have to find at least five things to be grateful for. It is much easier for me to find what I am grateful for than what I am powerless over, yet my life is an incredible mixture of both: sunshine, tennis, people who play tennis with me, running, rain, wildflowers, the French Open, friends, my home, walking, my job, my writing, responses to my writing, food, and on and on.

Let’s see what I can grow from here.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass


the presence of frustration

May 27, 2010

Here, on my last day of focusing on who or what I am powerless over in my life, I found a mountain of frustration.

Nobody wanted to do their jobs the way I wanted them to.

Nobody wanted to take me seriously.

I finally just had to give up and walk away. Paying attention to what I am powerless over is a blended sword. In one sense, it relieves me of any responsibility for that which I cannot control and have no power over. In another sense, it shines a light on a certain kind of helplessness that could easily feed a woe-is-me attitude.

Over the course of this past week, I noticed that I have trouble paying attention to people and things I have no control over and am powerless to do anything about. I would rather focus on what I can do. I like knowing where my power carries weight.

When my frustration finally crested today, I had to stop and ask myself, “Just how much do I really care about this?”

And the answer was a simple, “not much.”

Acknowledging that I am powerless requires that I be willing to give something up. It could be illusion. It could be misplaced responsibility. It could be stubbornness (also affectionately known as tenacity).

Sometimes, surrender is a good thing.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

a little bit edgy

May 25, 2010

Being powerless makes me weary. Today, this is what stood out for me:

• The ants who insist on invading the kitchen
• The optometrist who clearly did not bother to find out what I wanted
• The co-worker who plays helpless and inept in an attempt to get others to do her job for her
• Whether anyone likes my cooking
• If it will rain
• If my tennis partners will show up to play
• If other people drive safely

I’ll not bore you with the details or the outcomes. It is sufficient to say that I made it home alive and intact.

And the ants are still here, too.

This exercise has made me notice how my mind automatically thinks. I have to focus and concentrate on what I have no control over in order to even be mindful of it. The question for me is: now that I know I am powerless, will I let that stop me?

It could be that I am not all that invested in outcomes as I once was. I will find another optometrist. I will laugh at the co-worker (and occasionally poke her with a stick). I like my cooking. Rain or not, does not matter except when I want to play tennis. If it rains or no one shows, I go do something else.

Other people driving safely is one of those tricky outcomes. I have a constant urge to stay safe, so I drive like other people are out to get me. I am paranoid, untrusting, and always expect other drivers to do The Stupid Thing.

Like I said, I got home alive.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

a little bit of presence

May 21, 2010

Evidently, I am powerless over everything outside of myself and have just been in extreme denial these past 53 years . . .

But I was right about one thing!

I am totally powerful over how I respond to being powerless.

It was just like one GIANT serenity prayer today. All day long, I’m looking for stuff over which I have no power. It started with the simple acknowledgement that I am powerless over whether or not the light bulb in the bathroom goes on when I flip the switch to I am totally powerless over whether or not anyone reads this blog today. I am powerless over other drivers and realize that I blindly trust that everybody else who is driving a vehicle is driving with the collective intent that we all arrive alive. I am powerless over whether or not anyone loves me.

And, I have to confess, I have been holding out all these years. I have been peeking out from behind my illusion of total autonomous power and refusing to open myself to others or get close to very many people because, in my heart, I know I am powerless over their response to me.

Uncertain of my own personal strength, I am a little bit afraid to open myself to others and risk their response to me. But my safety is cradled in the arms of my eternal presence and forever connection to all that is. I am close to something very huge for me.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

Powerless presence

May 18, 2010

I have an assignment. For seven days, I have to write down one thing and/or person each day that I feel powerless over along with my thoughts and feelings.

I did not just randomly assign this to myself – it is for a class I am taking on substance abuse. I also get to keep a gratitude journal. First, though, I need to become aware of and write about what or who makes me feel powerless.

I remember a still moment when I was very, very young and the feeling of being totally powerless over my life crystallized. I knew it was going to be a very long, long time before I would be able to do anything about it. Something was lost in that moment. I gave up a dream or illusion, and probably gave away too much of my power as well.

It is a little bit crowded on my path to regaining personal power. It will be interesting to meet and get to know the selfs (<==== probably not a real word) who I am who feel powerless. Even more interesting will be the question: what are we going to do about it . . . if anything?

To recognize that I feel powerless requires that I define what power feels like. And, I don’t believe I have ever given much thought to power. Control, yes, I know all about control (and the illusion therein), but power? The quest is on.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass