Unpacking Emotions of COVID-19: Powerlessness

By Morgan Petit-Homme and Violetta Reum

Powerlessness (n.): lack of ability, influence, or power

Morgan’s Experience:

Hey girl!

I just want to take a moment to remind you that you are not alone, you are not incapable, and you are allowed to let yourself feel and process all the emotions that come with uncertainty.

Merriam-Webster’s Definition of powerless is: “devoid of strength or resources; ‘powerless victims’” or “lacking the authority or capacity to act, ‘was powerless to help’”.

Powerlessness is an emotion and place that I (unfortunately) feel comfortable sitting in. 

Often I feel (and have felt) defeated, that I will be powerless in every situation and circumstance.

Powerlessness is something I’ve felt basically my whole life. 

Between my parents’ divorce (and new marriage), moving often (because of military and divorce), sexual trauma and living as a minority in a broken world, I wouldn’t blame myself if I dwelled in this victim mentality for the rest of my life.  

But God calls us higher, to a better way of living. 

Just a reminder, all the power and strength we possess belongs to the Lord. 

So be encouraged that even if you can’t find the strength or power within yourself or hope for when you’re feeling powerless, our Father will protect you and will provide you all that you need.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Romans 8:37 (NIV)

One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: “Power belongs to you, God,

Psalm 62:11 (NIV)

Violetta’s Experience:

Feelings of powerlessness can come up so quickly; sneaking up in secret and totally pulling the rug out from under us. 

All of a sudden something that just seemed difficult or inconvenient a moment ago can trigger deep feelings of overwhelm and send us back to feeling hopeless and powerless, as if all control and freedom has been ripped away from us.

My own powerlessness often shows up when I feel stuck in a situation or a place and I don’t have the freedom to come and go as I please. This is an obvious trigger during COVID-19 since we are supposed to stay at home and not go anywhere. In addition, because of the working restrictions, I am not allowed to work with my clients which means there is nothing I can do about earning money right now.

Of course, I fully and totally understand that all of these restrictions are meant to flatten the curve and keep the virus from spreading, but still, I feel trapped. 

When I feel powerless, I tend to quickly jump to feeling like a child; being triggered to moments in my childhood when I felt that I couldn’t change my circumstances.

I feel as if I do not have choices and my emotional outrage about my lack of freedom closely resembles a temper tantrum. 

This is obviously no way to live. We are all entitled to feel how we do but it is entirely inappropriate for me to act like a child all the time and let my husband pick up the pieces of my outbursts.

So I have to quickly remind myself that I am not in fact a 10 year old girl who lived through violence and abuse, but I am a grown woman, with responsibilities and a child to raise. 

However, this also does not mean that I allow myself to live in denial.

This is obviously unhealthy and only prolongs the healing process while postponing another outburst until another time.

In these moments of feeling powerlessness, I have to allow myself to take a beak and seek the Lord.

It is in this place of desperation, where I am feeling totally overwhelmed, He allows me to do the much needed work with my inner-child. 

Jesus allows me to see that little powerless girl and to approach her with kindness. I do not attack her for her feelings, blame her for being weak, or berate her for feeling helpless. 

Instead, I reassure her. I apologize to her. I lift the weight off her shoulders that says she has to know all of the answers or have everything under control. I encourage her.

Often at the end of this encounter, little Violetta sighs a breath of relief and relaxes her body as a smile spreads across her face. She is now at peace. She has an adult who sees her, protects her and is kind to her. 

You can also be that adult to your inner-child.

Whether it is in powerlessness or when another kind of feeling overwhelms you, I suggest you try to understand where those feelings began and why they might be so strong and overwhelming. 

Often the healing is needed back then, for that inner-child, in a circumstance that maybe you have even forgotten about or denied for years. 

What we do now or how we manage our situation today is only a band-aid if the deeper issue is not worked though and if your inner-child is still not heard or seen. 

Action Steps:

  1. If you feel like you are struggling with feelings of powerlessness, ask yourself these questions:
  • When have I felt powerlessness before?
  • When was the first time I have felt powerlessness?
  • What can I say to that child now? Be honest.
  • What exactly triggers those feelings now? Is there any way I can minimize that? (ex: if you feel extra triggered when you watch the news, turn off the news and notifications or give yourself a time limit)
  1. Read this great article, written by a Mental Health Professional, on overcoming powerlessness: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/how-do-life/201611/when-you-feel-powerless

Author: Morgan Petit-Homme

Morgan has always had a compassionate heart, concerned with combating the injustices that many people face in this world. Morgan is passionate about seeing people educated and providing opportunities and spaces for open and honest dialogue. 

Author: Violetta Reum

Violetta has always had a passion and calling to see people pursue God with their entire lives, find their calling and identity in Jesus, and seek deep healing from past trauma and abuse.  She enjoys spending time with her husband and son and discovering all of the coffee shops and hole-in-the-wall restaurants.

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