Admit Powerlessness to Become Truly Empowered

In the recovery world we talk a lot about being powerless. And this comment seems to make our brothers and sisters in the spiritual/transformational world shift uncomfortably in their seats. So, I’m going to attempt to describe why being powerless is in fact the most empowering step I can take to accepting Real Power into my life.

Just a few years ago, a typical day of mine went something like this: After a restless night of sleep, my overactive mind would turn on at about 6am and start running the ticker tape of what I needed to do, where I needed to be, what I needed to fix, who I needed to manage, and what I was going to control or analyze in order to feel “on top of things.”

Wow. Exhausting stuff for someone who hadn’t even stepped out of bed. No wonder I would crash every afternoon and need a jolt of java (4-8 espresso shots) to keep me churning. I spent most of my life in frenzy; overwhelmed and anxious, believing that if I just planned a little bit better, I would finally get the peace and the life that I’d always wanted.

So, I kept going on this hamster wheel. My mind racing all day while my body was running on fumes. Blinded by my ever present drive to push, plan and project, I ignored signs of deterioration as my relationships crashed, my emotional state crashed and eventually my body crashed.

I was literally brought to my knees from exhaustion and depression and finally had to admit that my way of running my life wasn’t working. And not only was life as I had been living it not working, but I was powerless to do it any different. This was the best that I could do running on self will. I was powerless and I was desperate for a solution out of my pain.

Admitting I’m powerless is not the same as declaring myself a victim and settling into self-pity and demoralization. Far from it. Admitting I’m powerless is like waving a white flag; declaring complete and utter surrender. It’s like telling the universe, “I’m out of ideas. I have no more tricks up my sleeve or quick fixes to turn to. I’m ready to consider a solution that exists outside of me: I am open.” And in that opened state, I’m willing to consider things I was closed off to before. I’m willing to trust that there may be an easier way to live—that maybe the world has a different design for me. That maybe it’s not supposed to be such a struggle. That maybe there is a source of Infinite Power that can solve all of my problems and fill me with a deep sense of connection, love and purpose.

So in that way, being powerless is not the end, but rather the beginning. It’s where I get to start anew; Tabula Rasa. I get to set aside everything I think I know and open to a new experience of life. I get to learn, for the first time, what having Real Power in my life feels like. And in that way, I get to be reborn. There is a reason why the first step in The Big Book of Alcoholic’s Anonymous says: “We admitted we were powerless and that our lives had become unmanageable.” It’s because there is salvation in throwing my hands up and surrendering. Admitting I’m powerless is where I start to emerge from the darkness of my mind and begin to feel the sunlight of Spirit shine down on me. The shame and guilt dissipate and I’m left with a feeling of deep trust and faith. Going for a power greater than myself is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it is a sign of great strength. So by authentically admitting I’m powerless, I gain access to an Infinite Source of Power and Love that solves all of my problems and takes me further in every area than I ever thought possible. Now tell me, what could be more empowering than that?

Debbie Lichter is a certified pilates instructor and owner of Blossom Pilates & Soul studio in Hillcrest, San Diego. To experience the transformative classes, programs and community Blossom offers, call (85)224 3577 or visit


  1. erika watson says

    Deb- I am filled so much with the light recognition of what this is…because i am you in so many ways and want to be in many more…. thank you so much for the beauty, courage, wisdom, and power you stand so strong in to be the guiding light, the vessel in which others can begin to find their way. I am immensely grateful for you, this conversation, and the possibility that you have presented for my own life… I love you sister.. inpower- erika..