Powerless Penelope can't get out of bed. Here's how to help

Some days, it’s hard to get out of bed because we’re sleepy. Or it’s cold out and the bed is just so nice and warm.

This post is not about those days. This post is about the days you feel so anxious or blue or low or depressed, you just want to lie in bed and maybe never get out.

If we put on our IFS goggles we’d see: some part of you has crept into the lead and told all of your other parts, “It really would be better if we stayed in bed today.”

For this part, staying in bed maybe:

  • Protects you from the “too much is happening” nature of the world sometimes
  • Soothes you in the face of what feels like a mess
  • Helps you avoid a problem or situation that’s making you feel unhappy

Does this part of you feel powerless, maybe? I bet if you think about it, you know why Powerless Penelope (your part) wants to stay in bed. But do you know where Penelope got the belief that staying in bed is helpful for you? If you can understand that, you can probably get yourself out of bed and back into the world.

Powerless Penelope doesn’t know how powerful you are now

This young part of you holds an old belief “I cannot change this problem.”

I say this part of you is young because she had many experiences where this proved to be true. Maybe when you were young, you were:

  • Put in uncomfortable situations with adults, and you couldn’t escape them
  • Hungry, but unable to get food because your parents couldn’t afford it or weren’t good about keeping it in the house
  • Stuck in a class with an awful teacher or bully student, and nobody believed you when you told them how bad it made you feel

This small child part is still inside of you holding the belief that you can’t do anything about your problems.

Sometimes when things get difficult and feel overwhelming you could get blended with this part of you that feels like this is all too much.

Staying in bed too much is only one symptom of this belief. You may be showing up passive in your everyday life and putting up with things that are ridiculous because that’s just the way it is.

I guarantee this is not the case. You are not a victim of your circumstance just because you feel like victim.

When you are blended with another part of you and feeling extreme, in this case a helpless part, you see things from this part and make choices from this part of you. So if you feel like a victim and things are being done to you or happening to you then you just take it when you are taken over by this part of you. “Nothing to do but ride it out,” says Penelope.

The first thing that helps is to get Curious and listen to what Penelope has to say. Let’s get Curious and see what she wants to yell about.

Get Curious about Penelope and why she feels powerless

Grab your notebook and pencil and just write from this part of you. You are going to write from “an extreme part” of yourself (Powerless Penelope).

  • Don’t even think about censoring anything.
  • You wouldn’t censor a good friend you were listening to.
  • Just free flow and write.

(If you need some help working with Penelope, I recommend downloading my free meditation mp3 to guide you. You can read more about it before you download it).

After writing for 10 minutes stop and take a break. Then breathe several times deeply to get some Calm in your physical body. Now read what you wrote as if a dear friend wrote to you.

Give Penelope some much-needed compassion and an update

Remember how I said you need 8 hugs a day to maintain your state of being? I also said you have to hug yourself (here’s why). Powerless Penelope really needs a hug.

Feel Compassion for how hard it is for Penelope right now. Can you see how she got her belief that you are powerless? Let her know you are listening.

Also, be sure to update Penelope. You’re grown-up now. You can take charge! Tell her how you’ve taken charge in your life.

And, you can ask Penelope not to overwhelm you as you go about your life one day at a time. No need to run ahead.

Don’t be passive, take action for your satisfaction

Some ways to actively engage in your life and feel empowered:

  • Break a problem into pieces. Choose a piece of the problem and start there. Set steps to move towards resolution and take one step at a time.
  • Ask for support. Choose someone(s) to support you and encourage you to be healthy in mind and body. Spend some time with that person.
  • Notice when you are telling yourself negative thoughts. These are only thoughts and not the truth. Write them down and look for fears that can move you toward a helpful action. The rest you can put in a drawer and review later when the “truth”is known.
  • Take good care of you when times are tough. You are there for you as the adult in your life. Be the adult you wish would show up and save you in this problem right now.

And to wrap it all up: be sure to plan-do-review if you really want to make it stick.

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