Enlightening Life: Powerless and Paralyzed — 5 Steps to Go From Defeat to Action
by Jennifer Hoffman
On May 19, 2014
A family of groundhogs taught me a powerful lesson about defeat, powerlessness, paralysis, and hopelessness this week, bringing up some very painful issues from my past. Deciding whether I would be defeated by a situation that I didn’t think I could control or taking action to resolve it moved me from feeling victimized, powerless, angry and paralyzed, some of my core life challenges, to overcoming the challenge in a powerful way (and saving my garden from a family of hungry groundhogs). I share this story this week, and 5 steps you can take to move from defeat to action.
I have been seeing a groundhog around my yard for the past two years and I knew that it had been living part-time under my house. But I wasn’t aware, until recently, that not only had it taken residence under my porch on a full-time basis, it had given birth to four babies. Last week, as I was sitting at my desk, talking to my coaching clients, I watched as three of the babies walked casually around my yard, munching away on my plants. I felt angry, helpless, and powerless because I didn’t know how to stop them. Unless I did, not only would they decimate my gardens, but they would continue to live under the porch.
So I took action and called Animal Control, who helped me trap them, one at a time, and they released them in a large nature preserve near my home (but far enough away that they won’t come back). They are now all gone and their access to my porch has been closed (with chicken wire and 50 pounds of cement). I didn’t miss the lesson here because while I was angry at how callously they were destroying all of the work that I had put into my garden (they were just being groundhogs), I also felt victimized, paralyzed, and powerless, in a way that brought up some very old memories. Having experienced paralysis as a child, I still remember how it felt to be helpless and powerless in the face of something I could not control. I remember feeling angry that this had happened to me and knew that I could accept the doctors’ prognosis that I would never walk again or I could take action and do whatever it took to walk normally, choosing to live my life as a victor instead of as a victim. (Get my book on overcoming your victim mentality here, The Difference Between a Victim and a Victor is I AM).
As I was watching the groundhog babies munching away at my garden my first feeling was anger at their disregard for the money I had spent on the plants, and the time and effort that I had put into planting them. Then I felt powerless when I wondered how I was going to get rid of them — they were very happy, safe, and comfortable in their den under my porch, and I am incapable of killing an animal, no matter how much I don’t want it at my house. And I felt a little hopeless because the situation seemed impossible. But it was the feeling of overwhelm and paralysis that really got my attention because at first, I thought there was nothing I could do, they would stay and eat at my garden until they got ready to leave, if they ever would. I felt stuck because I wasn’t sure how to handle this problem.
Trapping the animals was easy, thanks to a supply of apples (which they seem to really like) and the strong metal traps provided by Animal Control. One at a time, we baited and placed the traps and within an hour, I would hear the trap close and walk over to see another groundhog captured. Then they would take the trap and release the animals, leaving me with another trap to capture another animal. It took three days to capture all of them and if you think this took a lot of my time, energy, and attention, you’re right. I was hopeful that we would catch them all, but a little afraid that they would not cooperate. Fortunately, they did and now they’re all gone.
Where we feel helpless and hopeless in the face of a life challenge is where we have a life changing choice to make — we can be defeated or we can take action. It’s life changing because what we choose to do in that moment of challenge will alter the course of our life from that point forward. When we choose defeat we believe that we have no control over the situation, fall into the hopelessness, become paralyzed, and feel we don’t have any control. Defeat can become a habit and one defeat can lead to a lifetime of accepting defeat before we even ask the next question, “What are my other options?” While we may not be able to control that situation, we can control what we choose to do about it. That’s the taking action part.
Paralysis, powerlessness, and hopelessness are a state of mind — they begin with our beliefs. Some challenges are harder than others, but every challenge has an exit door (which may be hidden from view) if we decide to look for it, by first believing that it exists, and then taking action to walk through the exit. Seeking new solutions, asking for help, deciding that we will move beyond the situation and get powerful relief, are all action choices we can make in any situation. If we want to get the energy moving, we have to be willing to give the energy a path to follow, and that path is either defeat or victory, paralysis or movement, anger and frustration or setting powerful intentions for victorious action and forward movement move beyond the situation.
Resolving these life challenges is part of our ascension journey, as they represent what we have come here to transform. We aren’t here to overcome suffering as much as we are here to learn how to live a life that is free from suffering and we do that by facing a challenge and transforming our beliefs so that we overcome that challenge and all others like it. We choose every aspect of our life path, challenges and all, so that we can live more powerfully, aligned with different aspects of our power (those that create joy, peace, love, and abundance instead of pain and suffering), and resonating with our divine and human aspects working in partnership.
Here are 5 steps you can take to move from defeat to taking action:
Step 1: What is the situation you are facing? Be clear about what it is and simplify it down to its most basic element. It could be something or someone invading your space, the loss of financial, emotional, or physical security, or something that disrupts your peace of mind or heart.
Step 2: What are you really afraid of in this situation? That it will be permanent, that you will never recover, that it will mark you for life? Understanding your fear is the most important part because this is what you have to address before you can take action.
Step 3: What do you think will happen if this continues? Giving a voice to your fears helps you identify them and put some perspective into the situation. If you think it sounds silly to say “I will never get over this,” or “This will never end,” you have created a question that you can answer.
Step 4: What is the outcome you want in this situation? Intentions are created from the outcome we want, so identify your outcome and now you have a do-able, logical, path to follow and this also creates a path for the energy it will take to change the situation. When you are outcome focused, you are asking the question “What are my other options?”
Step 5: What is the first action you can take? We get stuck because we think we have to do everything all at once and we don’t see how we can do that. And we don’t, all we have to do is take one step, and then the next step will present itself. Decide to take one action, then you will know what to do next. And asking for help can be your first action, don’t disregard this one because it could be the solution you need.
Every challenge has a solution, when we are willing to live life as victors instead of victims. I identify this in my book, The Difference Between a Victor and a Victim is I AM and you can read about it here. Face your challenges and decide to take action. Every action is important, including the one that begins with deciding to no longer be defeated, powerless, paralyzed, and hopeless. What’s your first action step going to be? How about considering that the difference between a Victor and a Victim?
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