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The Impotent Life

Beliefs of helplessness and hopelessness leave us living impotent lives. These assumptions most often derive out of experiences with “caretakers” who are uncomfortable with their own feelings and needs. If they are threatened by the natural narcissistic demands we make upon them, they are prone to respond in ways that imply our needs and wants and curiosities are "too much" and even "bad." When as infants we begin to move about, we have a ravenous desire to touch and taste and experience the environment that is so full of fascinating objects and “mountains to climb.” We do not comprehend why our safety requires limits.

This is a major challenge to our caretakers who are expected to teach us to control our impulses. It is out of this interaction with caretakers that we are supposed to experience natural frustrations and learn how to manage our own feelings and natural drives.

If our caretakers are themselves uncomfortable with their own needs and desires, they will be inclined to impose control that is shaming and leave us feeling impotent in a world that is not safe for exploration and self expression.

The field of interpersonal neurobiology makes it clear to us that if we have been impaired by these earlier experiences, correction and healing can and will occur when we do the work, perhaps through psychotherapy, of knowing deeply our own autobiographical narrative or life story and, in addition, opening up to the loving relationships that are available to us in our committed interactions with partners in marriage, good friends, and intimate relationships.

The good news is that we do not have to remain crippled and impotent in our lives if we are willing to do the work of knowing ourselves and allowing others to know us intimately.