Counselor's Corner: The powerlessness and power of life


Fred Cavaiani

Have you ever had the thought that “I wish that other people would think like me?” Have you ever tried to convince someone else to accept your political views? Have you ever tried to convince someone to accept your philosophy of life? And lastly, have you ever tried to convince someone to think the way you do religiously or spiritually? Usually we are powerless to get other people to think they way we do. It is a powerlessness that can be hard to accept. But it is a powerlessness that needs to be embraced.

Once I realize that I am powerless to convince you to think the way I think, I am on the road to making this world a better place. Just because you think differently than I do does not make you or me a bad person. Some people can spend their whole lives trying to convince other people to change their way of thinking. It doesn’t work and that powerlessness must be embraced.

Once I accept that I am powerless to change your religious or political or even emotional or spiritual viewpoint, I finally can have the freedom to deepen my own awareness of myself and what is really meaningful to me. This awareness of my own emotional, spiritual, political or religious journey is all intimately connected. It is not how I believe or how I vote that is so important. It is how I live. Accepting powerlessness in my life can give me the strength and power to go deeper in my life and discover what my real values are. These values I can share with others. But I will be sharing these values not to convince others but only to let them know what my deepest values in life are. When I do this, I send out a positive message because I am not standing over anyone to condemn or criticize or convince. I am standing with others to share my journey through life. My journey can be different from yours. But if I share my journey and listen to your journey, we have then created a rapport and a bond. It is this creation of a bond between us that will help us to travel together through life. We have shown respect for each other by simply sharing our own emotional and spiritual journey with each other.

Most of us can easily waste a lot of time condemning and judging. This attitude saps our emotional and spiritual energy and contradicts whatever our genuine philosophy or theology of life may be. I think I am a caring, loving, spiritual and emotionally healthy person. But when I am sitting in negative, internal judgments about someone else, I am no longer that caring, spiritual and emotionally healthy person. I am simply being another loud, condemning person who wants others to think the way I do and wants to tell them what is wrong with their way of thinking because they don’t think like me. This has never worked.

So many people who walk a profound, spiritual life may end up seeing life politically and socially in totally different ways. The only way to bridge this gap is to share what my inner attitude and journey through life is really like and to investigate if my political viewpoints are truly an expression of my deepest spiritual viewpoints. For many people, this is very true even though I may disagree with your conclusions, but I can respect you for your conclusions because I have heard what your inner emotional and spiritual life is like.

I think one of the biggest problems in the world is that we do not go deep enough with each other in sharing our emotional and spiritual viewpoints.

Social media can block us from going deeper because social media can take our viewpoints out of context or never listen totally to what we are saying. On the other hand, if we are brave enough to live from the deepest part of ourselves, emotionally and spiritually, we might be able to influence social media to listen to us.

However, we are powerless over what other people might think and say. But when we can admit this, we can have the power to be our own open, loving, caring, compassionate and spiritual self and humbly share this with others. I can make the world a better place by being a better person and sharing my inner journey with others. But I don’t have to convince you to be on the same path. The only power in life that I have is to be on a good journey for myself. That good journey will always embrace, love, kindness, compassion, spirituality and an inner peace of spending quiet time with God each day. But it is my journey. It doesn’t have to be your journey. I can listen to another person well when I know that person is not trying to convince me to think like them. In my listening to them I might then be open to hear what they have to say.

In embracing my powerlessness of trying to convince you, I gain the power of loving you better. And we both can go forward in a more positive manner.


Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage counselor and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeast Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: and his website is


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