Overcoming Powerlessness


This mini-course will help you to overcome the powerlessness that narcissistic abuse causes.

All the journaling prompts are inspired by our interview with Dr. Alicia Rozycki:

“5 Strategies for Overcoming Powerlessness”.

To get the most out of this course, consider listening to the interview first and then diving into the course content. 

Signs of Powerlessness

Everyone’s experience with narcissistic abuse and its aftermath is unique, so your feelings of powerlessness might manifest differently from someone else’s feelings of powerlessness.

Below are some questions you can ask yourself to help determine if you feel powerless.

  • Do you consistently feel that nothing will ever change or improve, no matter what you do?
  • Do you believe that you cannot affect outcomes in your life or that your actions don’t matter?
  • Do you avoid certain situations, people, or confrontations because you believe they’ll only lead to negative outcomes you cannot change?
  • Do you have a pervasive feeling that you’re stuck in your situation and there’s no way out?
  • Are you trying not to feel anything at all to avoid pain?
  • Do you suffer from fatigue, insomnia, headaches, or stomach issues?
  • Do you have a decreased interest in pursuits you once enjoyed or a general apathy toward life?
  • Are you overly reliant on others for decision-making or validation?

5 Strategies for Overcoming Powerlessness

1.) Admit That You Are Feeling Powerless

The first strategy Dr. Alicia mentioned in the interview was admitting that you feel powerless.

She said this first because the first step to addressing any issue is recognizing that it exists.

You might be in denial about your feelings to protect yourself from pain.

Admitting to the emotion means breaking through this denial, which is essential for healing.

Admitting to a feeling is an active process. Once you’ve recognized and validated your emotion, you’re more prepared to take active steps to address and overcome it.

Assess Your Situation

The second strategy Dr. Alicia mentioned in the interview was assessing your situation.

Some of the prompts below may resonate more with those currently experiencing narcissistic abuse, while others may be more relevant to those who have left such environments but grapple with past experiences. Please focus on the prompts that feel most pertinent to your situation.

  • What specific situations or actions from the narcissistic individual make me feel powerless?
  • What repetitive behaviors or patterns in my relationship contribute to my feelings of powerlessness?
  • When I feel powerless, how does it manifest in my body (e.g., tension, headaches)? What emotions typically accompany this feeling?
  • How do I envision myself when I feel strong, empowered, and in control of my own life? What does that version of me look like, do, or believe?
  • Outside of this relationship, what are my dreams and aspirations? What would I like to achieve, experience, or explore?
  • What areas of my life have been overshadowed or controlled due to this relationship? How can I reclaim independence in these areas?
  • Envisioning a future potentially without this relationship, what steps can I take to move towards that vision, even if they’re small?
  • What small steps can I take today to feel a sense of control or empowerment?
  • Are there particular situations, places, or reminders that amplify my feelings of powerlessness connected to the past abuse?
  • What positive affirmations can I tell myself when I feel down or powerless to reconnect with my inner strength?
  • In what ways do I feel powerless in my life?

Educate Yourself

The third strategy Dr. Alicia mentioned in the interview was to educate yourself about narcissism and narcissistic abuse.

Education provides clarity and offers the means to navigate away from feelings of powerlessness toward a place of self-assuredness.

Unfilteredd’s resources:

Understand What Problematic Behaviours You May Have Developed in Order to Cope with Narcissistic Abuse

The fourth strategy Dr. Alicia mentioned in the interview was understanding your potentially problematic behaviors.

Understanding your problematic behaviors gives you power. It moves you from a passive role (being subjected to abuse) to an active one (understanding, analyzing, and deciding to make changes).

Below, you’ll find some prompts that help you with this strategy, and again, please focus on prompts that most resonate with you.

  • When have you changed your actions or thoughts due to someone’s disapproval, even if it went against your personal beliefs or feelings? List three ways to assertively communicate your beliefs and feelings in future scenarios, even when facing disapproval.
  • Recall moments where you chose not to voice your feelings, opinions, or concerns due to fear. Write a script of what you would have ideally said in those situations.
  • Identify times when you put someone’s needs above your own to the detriment of your well-being. Outline a self-care routine that you can commit to, ensuring your needs are prioritized.
  • Remember times you took the blame for things outside of your responsibility. Write affirmations that reinforce your self-worth and remind you of the importance of accountability, not undue blame.
  • How often have you felt or believed you had no power in matters? Identify moments when you felt empowered and write strategies to cultivate those empowering feelings more often.
  • Describe a recent conflict and your reaction to it. How would your ideal self have responded differently? What steps can you take to react more like that in the future?
  • Think about times you’ve sought external validation. What internal affirmations can you give yourself instead? How can you practice self-validation?
  • Recall feedback you received and your reaction to it. How can you develop a more constructive response to feedback in the future?
  • Describe a time you felt a need to be perfect or in control. How can you practice letting go and embracing imperfections?
  • Reflect on a moment when you didn’t engage in a problematic behavior. How can you replicate this positive behavior in other scenarios?
  • Identify someone who embodies behaviors you admire. How can you emulate these behaviors? What daily practices or affirmations can help?
  • Envision your future self, free from these behaviors. What daily practices or habits can help you progress toward becoming this person?

Practice Assertiveness

The fifth strategy Dr. Alicia mentioned in the interview was practicing assertiveness.

By being assertive, you actively reclaim your voice and assert your rights, which can be a significant step in regaining a sense of personal power and autonomy.

Below, you’ll find some prompts that help you with this strategy. Please focus on prompts that most resonate with you.

  • What does being assertive mean to you? How does it differ from being aggressive or passive?
  • What are three characteristics of an assertive person? How do you see these in yourself, even if just a glimmer?
  • List three benefits of being more assertive in your daily life.
  • Recall a recent situation where you wished you had spoken up. How would the assertive version of you have handled that situation?
  • What fears hold you back from being assertive?
  • Write your own “bill of rights” for personal interactions. For instance: “I have the right to express my feelings without guilt.”
  • Describe one small way you can practice assertiveness today, whether it’s voicing a preference or saying “no” to a small request.
  • Reflect on a time (no matter how minor) when you stood up for yourself. How did it feel? How can you channel that feeling in the future?

If you know someone who could also benefit from this course, please share it with them.