There are times in life when feelings of helplessness come about. You may be faced with problems trying to prioritize things in daily life or having difficulty making decisions. But what can we do about this?
Feeling helpless can create a potential build-up and even cause you to feel “frozen.” For some people, that helplessness not only causes that frozen feeling but sadness and anger too. It might be time to start asking how and when these feelings started coming about. Easier said than done, right? Of course! Consider looking back at a time when you were feeling confident and evaluate some of the things that were happening in your life. Take some time to also look at what is currently going on in your life. Are there some major decisions you are facing right now? Is your financial situation creating some fear about the future?
Helplessness can also sneak up on you well after a significant change has happened in your life like a new job, school, moving, or even a new relationship. Some of us might have the tendency to continuously think about a problem or situation over and over again even when most likely we don’t have a solution right away. If this is the case, you may be ruminating- where you let the same thoughts tumble around in your mind. (Think of how a dryer goes round and round in circles. Are your thoughts taking that same path?) Take some time to see if you can break that cycle by stopping your thoughts.
How do I stop my thoughts from running all over the place? Practice, practice, practice! Here is an example: Let’s say you are feeling helpless due to a financial situation. There may not be an immediate solution as to how you can come up with extra money for the month but that sometimes doesn’t stop some of us from worrying about the situation. You may need to remind yourself that the more you think about that lack of money, the more stress it will place on your thoughts and lead to feeling helpless. If you are a visual thinker- imagine you have a lasso- throw that lasso around those thoughts and pull tight! Ask yourself- “How are these thoughts helping me in what I am doing at this moment?” It’s going to take time to learn how to slow it all down. You may even find yourself working towards this several times a day. That’s perfectly okay!
When you free up your mind from these ruminating thoughts- you may be able to give yourself some thinking room that leads to a solution to your situation. It’s also important to understand that this is not ignoring the problem; it is a way to gain control of your thinking to reduce feelings of helplessness. The less helpless you feel, the more strength you feel within. When you feel stronger you are better able to make better decisions, gain control of your daily life, and overall feel better about yourself. Be easy on yourself in the beginning- it’s something you need to practice- expecting perfect results within a day may not be a realistic goal.
And by all means, don’t forget to BREATHE. (Slow, deep breath in and then a deep breath out.)
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Sheilagh is an Artist and Art Therapist who believes in healing with art and creativity.