How to Overcome Powerlessness

Masterclass with Insights from Jessica Hass (Clinical Social Work/Therapist, MS, LCSW)

It’s common to experience powerlessness after narcissistic abuse.

Powerlessness is the emotional experience of not having control or influence over your life, situations, or decisions. 

Some common thoughts you might have if you’re experiencing this are:

  • “I can’t seem to change anything that’s happening to me.”
  • “I feel completely stuck, like nothing I do matters.”
  • “It’s like I’m just going through the motions without any real control.”
  • “I’m always at the whim of others; I can’t stand up for myself.”
  • “No matter what I do, I just can’t seem to make a difference.”

If you can relate to those thoughts, this masterclass could be for you.

Watch Now

  • Warning: This content discusses narcissism and narcissistic abuse. This subject may be triggering for some people. If you find yourself feeling triggered, please click here to watch our Trigger/Flashback Protocol.

If you struggle to stay focused when consuming long-form content, you’re not alone. We’ve found that listening to our content as you read the transcript is the easiest way to stay focused because the audio will keep you on pace with the text. In addition, when you do this, the information is processed by two different parts of your brain, which can give you a more comprehensive understanding and memory of the material.

Jessica Hass’ Strategies

We recommend using If/When-Then Plans to implement Jessica Hass’ advice effectively. Please click here to learn more about this research-backed approach.

First Strategy: Maintain Rigid Boundaries

Attention

We strongly recommend you visit [4:18] and rewatch Jessica Hass’ advice to get the information you need to implement this strategy effectively.

Deeper dive

Jessica Hass highlighted the importance of setting boundaries while explaining this strategy. Here’s a course that will help you do this.

Get Support

If you need help with this strategy, click here to join our community discussion. You don’t have to go through this alone; we’re here to support you.

Second Strategy: Challenge Idealization and Adoration of the False Self That the Narcissist Presents to You

Attention

We strongly recommend you visit [15:34] and rewatch Jessica Hass’ advice to get the information you need to implement this strategy effectively.

Get Support

If you need help with this strategy, click here to join our community discussion. You don’t have to go through this alone; we’re here to support you.

Third Strategy: Engage in Empowering Activities

Attention

We strongly recommend you visit [29:20] and rewatch Jessica Hass’ advice to get the information you need to implement this strategy effectively.

Get Support

If you need help with this strategy, click here to join our community discussion. You don’t have to go through this alone; we’re here to support you.

Fourth Strategy: Focus on Your Future

Attention

We strongly recommend you visit [35:15] and rewatch Jessica Hass’ advice to get the information you need to implement this strategy effectively.

DEEPER dive

Jessica Hass highlighted the importance of mourning the person you once were while explaining this strategy. Here’s a masterclass that will help you do this.

Get Support

If you need help with this strategy, click here to join our community discussion. You don’t have to go through this alone; we’re here to support you.

Fifth Strategy: Psycho-Analyze Yourself

Attention

We strongly recommend you visit [44:11] and rewatch Jessica Hass’ advice to get the information you need to implement this strategy effectively.

Get Support

If you need help with this strategy, click here to join our community discussion. You don’t have to go through this alone; we’re here to support you.

DEEPER dive

While explaining this strategy, Jessica Hass highlighted the importance of:

  • Self-forgiveness
  • Core Beliefs
  • Attachment Styles
  • Boundaries

Here are some masterclasses and courses that will help you with this:

Resource Alert

To help you put this strategy into practice, we’ve created a bunch of activities. Give it a try – it’s designed to support your journey.

What You’ll Need

  • A notebook or journal
  • A pen or pencil
  • A comfortable and private space for writing

Let’s Begin

1.) Understanding Self-Compassion

First, let’s talk about the term “self-compassion.”

It means being warm and understanding toward ourselves.

For example, instead of thinking:

“I’m so stupid. I can’t believe I didn’t see what was happening. It was right in front of me. I should’ve stood up for myself and left sooner.”

We shift our perspective and think:

“It’s hard to spot manipulative behavior, especially when it comes from someone close. I was doing the best I could in a confusing situation.”

This nurturing attitude towards ourselves is vital for recovery and rebuilding self-esteem after such deeply challenging experiences.

2.) Time for Reflection

Now that you have a better understanding of self-compassion, please reflect on your experiences with narcissistic abuse.

Pro Tip: If you don’t know how to do this, try asking yourself these self-reflective questions. I did, and it helped me a lot.

  • “What are the specific emotions and thoughts I experience when I think about the narcissistic abuse, and how have they influenced my daily life and relationships?”
  • “How did the narcissistic behavior impact my self-esteem, decision-making, and overall view of myself, and what steps can I take to rebuild a healthier self-image?”
  • “What coping mechanisms or behaviors did I develop as a result of the narcissistic abuse, and how have these influenced my reactions and decisions in various aspects of my life?”
  • “How has the abuse altered my perception of personal boundaries and self-respect, and what steps can I take to strengthen and reaffirm these boundaries in my current life situation?”

3.) Writing Your Letter

Now, we’d like you to write a letter to yourself from a perspective of unconditional love and understanding. 

Need help figuring out what to write? Here are some ideas:

  • Write to your past self at a moment you felt most impacted by the abuse. What words of understanding and support would you offer?
  • Think about the times you felt overwhelmed by your emotions due to the abuse. How can you acknowledge these feelings with compassion and understanding in your letter?
  • Think about the coping mechanisms you developed as a result of the abuse. How can you gently acknowledge their role and express an understanding of why they were necessary at the time?
  • If there are regrets or “what ifs I had just done [blank]” that linger in your mind about the abuse, how can you address them with a perspective of learning and growth rather than self-blame?

4.) Reflect on Your Letter

After writing your letter, take some time to reflect on what you wrote. If you’re comfortable, feel free to share parts of your letter or your feelings about this exercise with the community (click here to do this) (think to thread for this strategy).

5.) Wrapping Up

As we close this activity, remember the importance of self-compassion and the strength it takes to be kind to oneself after such challenging experiences. Keep this letter and refer to it whenever you need a reminder of your worth, resilience, and power.

6.) Final Thoughts

We encourage you to write these letters regularly, especially during tough times when you feel powerless, as a tool for nurturing self-compassion. 

Thank you for participating in this exercise. Remember, you are worthy of kindness and compassion, especially from yourself.


Reflect on Internal Vulnerabilities:

Start by exploring what’s happening within you. Consider aspects such as your emotional state, thoughts, and any ongoing challenges or changes in your life. How do these internal factors make you more susceptible to specific emotional responses or behaviors? What feelings do these internal states evoke in you?

Reflect External Triggers:

After recognizing your internal vulnerabilities, shift your focus to external triggers. What specific situations, interactions, or environmental factors tend to spark a reaction in you? Describe these triggers and how they impact you. What feelings arise, and how do they relate to your vulnerabilities? Are there patterns in how you respond to these external stimuli?

Strategies for Self-Preservation:

Lastly, think about strategies that could help you protect your vulnerabilities and shield yourself from triggers. What actions can you take to safeguard your emotional well-being in the face of these internal and external challenges? This could include setting boundaries, seeking support, practicing mindfulness, or other self-care practices. Write about how you can implement these strategies in your daily life.

Recognizing When Your Inner Critic Is Berating Your Inner Child

Recognizing when your inner critic is berating your inner child involves being mindful of your thoughts and emotions and understanding the dynamics between these two aspects of your psyche. 

The inner critic is the part of you that judges and criticizes, often harshly, while the inner child represents your emotional, vulnerable self. Here are some signs and tips to help you identify when this is happening:

  • Harsh Self-Criticism:

    If you find yourself engaging in negative self-talk that is demeaning or overly critical, it’s likely your inner critic speaking. This could sound like, “I’m not good enough,” “I always mess things up,” or “I shouldn’t have said that.”
  • Feelings of Shame or Inadequacy:

    When your inner critic is active, you might feel a sense of shame, inadequacy, or worthlessness. These feelings can be indicators that your inner critic is targeting your inner child.
  • Revisiting Past Mistakes:

    If you’re obsessively thinking about past mistakes, especially from childhood or your formative years, and criticizing yourself for them, this can be a sign of your inner critic attacking your inner child.
  • Emotional Responses:

    Pay attention to your emotional responses. If you feel small, helpless, scared, or overly sensitive, similar to how a child might feel, it could mean your inner child feels berated or threatened by the inner critic.
  • Defensive or Withdrawn Behavior:

    Notice if you become defensive or withdrawn in situations where you feel criticized or judged. This might be your inner child’s way of responding to the inner critic.
  • Physical Sensations:

    Sometimes, the conflict between the inner critic and the inner child can manifest physically, such as feeling a tightness in your chest, a knot in your stomach, or an overall sense of tension.

Closing Remarks

Thank you for watching this masterclass!

We hope you found it informative and empowering.

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Take care and see you next time.

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