Overcoming "fake helplessness"
In the 12-Step sense of Step One, I am powerless over my addiction.
However, in this message, I'm writing about something different.
In this message, I'm writing about "fake helplessness" and not actual "Step One Powerlessness".
In the past, I've felt "helpless" to change. I didn't feel that I was able to do the tasks that needed to be done. I doubted my capabilities and strengths.
I felt helpless – incapable of finding and performing at a career. I felt helpless – incapable of housekeeping. I felt helpless – incapable of finishing my university degree.
But, upon looking deeper, I see that this was NOT a self-esteem / self-doubt issue.
It was actually my emotional attitude about doing tasks.
I didn't think I could care for myself. So I whined and wept, and allowed others to take care of me.
I wasn't quite the stereotypical "helpless female" -- but as I look back, I must now admit that my attitude was something eerily similar to that. (Although I would have disagreed if you'd said that to me back then).
I realize now that it wasn't just "I don't think I can". I realize now that underneath all those outward feelings of helplessness were actually feelings of "I don't want to".
The helplessness I thought I felt … was actually just a "mask" …. It was my way to avoid responsibility for doing whatever tasks needed to be done.
I didn't want to admit to myself that I was actually just having a major case of the "I don't wannas". So I told myself I was helpless.
I allowed the feelings of helplessness to overcome me, as a way of avoiding responsibility.
Eventually, I began to believe my own rationalization of helplessness. It was way easier to give in to the belief that I was helpless -- way easier than actually standing up and taking responsibility.
As a result of feeling helpless (or telling myself I was helpless) … I spent more than a year crying on the couch.
I also watched lots of mindless TV, especially soap operas, during this period. I sat on the couch, and cried while watching TV.
I wasn't even watching the TV as a typical "distraction behavior" to do fun things as a way of procrastinating on doing necessary tasks.
I was watching TV (usually sad emotional shows) to keep me company in my helplessness attitude.
To any outward observer who didn't know me, and learned I was on the couch crying for months, it might have appeared to be clinical depression. But I know now that it really wasn't.
Even my close friends knew I wasn't really depressed, because they were fully aware of the specific tasks I was avoiding. My friends tried to point this out, but I wasn't willing to listen.
It wasn't depression. It was "demand resistance". I was resistant to having to do what needed to be done. So I told myself I was helpless.
Poor forlorn little me.
This all occurred before I discovered the Twelve Steps.
I am grateful to the Twelve Steps concept in general. And I am grateful to the specific information on the Procrastinators Anonymous website about "demand resistance" and other causes of compulsive procrastination.
I now see that my "helplessness" was actually FAKE.
But my REAL "Step One Powerlessness" was powerlessness against the temptation to avoid responsibility.
Regarding Step Two:
One day, I realized that there are two parts to Step Two:
- Coming to believe that there is some sort of Higher Power (or better judgment, or inspiration)
- Believing that one can be restored to sanity
I have always believed in a "Higher Power".
But when I discovered the Twelve Steps, I came to believe I could be restored to sanity.
Once I believed I could be restored to "sane behavior patterns", I no longer felt my "fake helplessness".
And with Step Three, I began having WILLINGNESS to do the tasks that need doing, and the Demand Resistance started to lose its stranglehold over me.
From the Promises: "That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear." It really is starting to disappear. I have a long ways to go, but I have begun.