Freezing as a strategy
But "powerless" makes no sense in reality
Ways she is keeping herself in "powerlessness"
Harmful compensating strategies
Another interesting thought process trap
The trap of "it just comes upon me"
Before reading this explicit discussion about Barbara in this regard, it is a good idea to read at least the I Am Powerless page.
FREEZING AS A STRATEGY
Barbara is frozen in time, caught in the web she wove as a 4 year old child where she found it useful to "freeze" as her way of trying to be safe when people were "acting out of control in her house. Even now she "holds her breath, breathes shallowly, and tenses up" whenever she feels unsafe, which is alot of the time when she is outside her domicile. Freezing was a valid strategy in caveman days, but it left her without a fight or flight power that would be useful in certain situations.
So, it makes sense in the little girl's world of Barbara that she is, indeed, powerless.
BUT "POWERLESS" MAKES NO SENSE IN REALITY
In the real world, it makes no sense, since she is capable of causing an effect. She needs to study "power" in order to know what it is and what it isn't. She needs to learn that she (and any reasonably capable adult) is powerful, even at "low power." She needs to get to the point where she is declaring "I am powerful. I am capable and completely self-sufficient."
She may "choke" over the word "self-sufficient", but intellectually she can understand that, though it seems she is often refusing to admit that.
WAYS SHE IS KEEPING HERSELF IN "POWERLESSNESS"
There may be a number of ways she is using to keep herself in the pretense of being a child.
She is stuck in the idea that she is failing if she does not cause an effect "out there" that measures up to old expectations from her mother. She does not see that not all outcomes are controllable, and that she can stand to have some Undesired Outcomes, but she relies on having to get the desired outcomes in order to be "ok" - an impossible task for anyone, even SuperWoman - and a big trap she has, probably unwittingly, set for herself. She need to know and declare that this is impossible.
Since there is "failure" (i.e. not success) almost guaranteed to happen when we don't have control over other people, she has plenty of "evidence" that she is not powerful. But having control over others would be a "magical" power, which is, of course, what we wished for when we were 8 years old and believed in magic. We wanted to fix Mommy's and Daddy's upsets and make things smooth so that we didn't feel threatened by them splitting or going away.
She expects perfection, which is the road to definite failure and to hell.
HARMFUL COMPENSATING STRATEGIES
She needs to understand that her believing she is not powerful causes her to try to gain impact elsewhere by "upping" the gradient, using "unpowerful" strategies. She needs to understand that "force" does not work.
When she gets caught in a battle or backed into a corner, the threat that she feels escalates the fight strategy to the point that she locks herself into rage, which is a violent, explosive anger - certainly not one appropriate to what is called for. This does not serve her and in fact harms her physically and psychologically. Rage can happen when a person feels that nothing else will work in this situation, but it normally doesn't occur until one is totally frustrated in an extremely threatening situation, but Barbara seems to trot it out as an initial strategy, as if she assumes that she won't get the result she wants and is not able to cause what she wants. She doesn't realize that force may cost more than it accomplishes. It definitely hurt her more than it helps her.
As a little girl, she thinks she must be able to exert power over what she doesn't control - and she doesn't accept the inevitabe undesired outcomes. She is constantly fighting against the inevitable and resisting it, not realizing it is a fruitless, harmful strategy.
She "feels bad" that she doesn't have the power level of the most powerful people and that she certainly does not have 'enough power to have everybody respect her power' - but she doesn't realize that there is almost no one who has such power. Like a child, she has this idealistic viewpoint of how the "big people" are. Since she is not able to operate up to her expected level, she often "gives up" and just labels herself as powerless and helpless. She needs to accept what power is, as defined in the Power In Life section (under Life Management).
One of the first concepts one is to learn about life, other than it is "not fair" is that one shouldn't waste one's time trying to control the uncontrollable and that it would be simply better to accept reality and just move on. Maturity is full acceptance of those realities; immaturity is wishing it were different, resisting it. Barbara keeps on bumping up against that and feeling frustrated - quite uselessly. Accepting Reality is one of the keys to stopping Suffering and Struggle and one of the sources of Power In Life. Wishing rocks were not hard and that life were different than it is is a fruitless effort - and one worth giving up so that one can become a full Adult. One of the key gateways for Barbara to becoming happy is to give up being a child, to let it go, and to embrace the fact that she is an Adult, fully capable of functioning adequately well - and that there is no "little girl" in existence! She should study this and make a choice and a commitment to become (go into the role, at least) an adult. The perpetuation of the idea of having within oneself a little boy or little girl, is, of course, nonsense, though a useful metaphor when you want to talk to yourself. The problem is that it perpetuates a myth and gives permission to act like a child and trigger all those remnants of circuits in the lower brains - those brains have pictures and simplistic associations that are ready for the calling, but it makes no sense to heed those as being real. Of course, it is best not to reactivate and reinforce them - to stop any such thought in the moment. It is best to let some of those neuronal pathways fade away from nonuse, with the material being used elsewhere, such as in creating a new neural pathway around affirming that she does have power.
ANOTHER INTERESTING THOUGHT PROCESS
One of the rather convoluted reasonings is that too much contact with a helper/counselor is "for my 'little girl' disempowering, as she begins to feel too dependent.
Although this seems to be a problem for her, as she seeks help and then pushes it away to "feel stronger by being on her own," it seems that she is simply making up a childlike story that her feeling powerless is about something out there. Actually it's only about her feeling powerless, period, and her triggering it herself with her thoughts.
She plays the little, helpless girl with her helpers, so she is further grooving that powerlessness belief into her brain. She idealizes her helpers, which is of course another childlike way of looking at others.
Interestingly, at times, she has to prove that she knows alot about all of this stuff, not realizing that she just has a lot of miscellaneous knowledge but not the key knowledge that makes the difference. An example of one of the pieces of key knowledge is that she is not a child and doesn't have a remnant child within her - and that if she were to make the decision to let go of being a child and a victim, many of her "problems" would no longer exist.
The solution to this trap statement will be coming, as soon as I am able to ruminate further about it.
THE TRAP OF "IT JUST COMES UPON ME"
"I am just out somewhere and all of a sudden I start hyperventilating. It just happens for no reason."
This statement allows her to be a victim of circumstances, helpless to do anything about it. It should be stopped and a true statement substituted into her conversation.
She needs to acknowledge that there are feelings and tensions occurring in the body early on, which would serve as early warning signals, and that she needs to focus attention on purpose in order to be aware - and then she needs to implement the strategies that deal with that. (See her list of the strategies.)
Although it is important to have strategies that work, it is more important that she acknowledges that signals are abundant far before the point at which everything is so built up that she is overwhelmed. She has plenty of power to change things early in the process.
I am totally capable of paying attention to my body, catching the tension and early shallow breathing and intervening early on. I am not a victim of that. I have the power to stave it off.
No one else can take my power away from me nor "disempower" me. That is a myth, which I choose to no longer believe. I absolutely do have power and I absolutely am never powerless, never, ever.
OTHER RELEVANT ITEMS
running your life?