Navigating the Tightrope: How to Stay in Your Power When in a Powerless Situation

Navigating the Tightrope

Feeling powerless at times is a pretty common experience. There are always people, institutions, and forces that affect us, but over which we have no control. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a simple, reliable way to stay in your power in those situations? There are so many of them: a boss, a family member, a neighbor, the traffic, the weather, the list is actually quite long. In fact, if you sit down and really think deeply about what in your life you actually control, I think you will find the list fairly short. But, even so, you can stay in your power, as I’ll explain.

We make large life choices, such as going to school, what career, getting married, having kids; and these choices create a structure for our day. But what fleshes out that structure in the moment is generally out of our control. Once you go to school, you don’t control the professors or the curriculum, you don’t control what your boss asks you to do, and, once you have kids, you give up all hope of being in control ever again.

And then there are aspects of our lives that are just there, and we don’t even choose them, such as family, society, weather, and such.

So, here’s the funny thing. On one hand, we’re living on this planet over which we have such little control, yet, on the other hand, studies routinely show that if we are in a potentially stressful situation but can maintain some sense of feeling in control, we are less stressed. If we were really adapted to our environment, one would think that we should be very comfortable not needing to be in control. So, I ask, does God have a sadistic sense of humor or is something deeper going on?

I like to think that something deeper is going on, and when we look at it, sure enough, it is. In fact, it turns out that we are actually very well adapted to staying healthy in the face of even quite severe stress, most of us just don’t know how. So, how do we learn?

Start by adopting a few key concepts, such as:

  • You have, inside of you, an aspect that is completely untarnished by whatever happens to you in your life.
  • Truthfully, you are never in a powerless situation. As Gandhi said, “The British can imprison me, they can beat and torture me, but all they will ever have is my beaten and broken body. They will never have my cooperation.” You can know what Gandhi knew.
  • Your true self, your higher self, is the source of your personal power.
  • We feel powerless at times because we lose touch with that true self.

So, maybe a better question would be, “How can I develop such a strong and sure connection with my inner power that nothing I experience, no situations I find myself in, can pull me away from it?” This is possible. Some were even able to do this in Auschwitz.

Being able to find your center of power whenever you look inside just takes practice. Remembering to do this when you need to throughout your day is also a practice. So start practicing today. Get a pad of yellow stickies and write: “Sense into my inner power” on them and stick them up all over the place: on the fridge, the bathroom mirror, the lamp on your desk, the dashboard of your car.

Each time you see one, pause a second and check inside. Most people feel their center of power most easily in their solar plexus, or that area just below where your ribs come together in the middle. What helped me the most was when I realized that I would never find my inner wisdom by looking around in my mind; instead, I found it in my heart. I suspect the same may be true for you.

Besides your real power, you also have ego strength. Ego strength can be very useful for creating success on the material level. But ego strength and your real personal power are not the same thing. There are many examples of people who have been powerful, excellent manifesters of their ego’s desires but do not act in a wise and kind way. These people, who are all head and no heart, are behind most of the major problems we face in our society. So, please don’t be like them. If you are in your real power, you will be acting from what your heart knows, and you won’t have to worry about abusing your power and hurting someone with it.

Live your life as your true, authentic Self, and you will never be without your power. Feeling powerless at times is just a reminder to find your Self.

The Seven Tools of Healing: Find Your Self, Live as Your Self


  1. Heidi on October 29, 2017 at 8:04 am

    Hi Steve. This is great!

  2. Susan McKenna Christensen on October 29, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    Thank you! As always…. poignant, authentic, practical and wise.

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