Hidden Keys to Overcoming Helplessness
What is helplessness? Helplessness is an inability to protect yourself or act effectively. Some people feel helpless when they attempt a new task. Other people feel helpless when they are stuck in a rut and can’t find their passion or purpose. While other people have felt helpless at the hands of a tragedy. And, you can likely remember your own experience with feeling helpless.
Reasons People Experience Helplessness
While lots of people experience helplessness and ineffectiveness during specific situations, other people feel helplessness as their overall state of being. It’s not a very good state of wellbeing though. What are some of the reasons for those people who feel an overwhelming state of helplessness? There are several different originations of helplessness.
Feelings of Incompetence
One such reason is the result of feeling incompetent. When you feel like you can’t do anything right, you could experience the feeling of helplessness. A lot of people, who suffer from this form of helplessness, were abused as children or in an adult relationship with a loved one.
Fear of Success
Another foundation for helplessness can come from a fear of success. Fear of success? Really? Hear me out. It may sound weird, but a lot of people are afraid of success and they protect themselves by being helpless so that others are convinced that they are incapable rather than afraid. Why do people fear success? People fear success because it takes them away from their comfort zone.
Another reason that someone may feel helpless is due to anger. This anger is deep rooted from children where the person experienced being ignored or neglected. Now that they are adults, they want others to take care of them because their needs weren’t filled during their formative years.
Lastly, some people feel helpless when their basic needs are not being met. These needs can range all the way from shelter and food to the need for self-actualization. You’re stuck. You don’t know where to turn next. You’re in a dead-end job with no end in sight. That 6 to 20 years left before retirement seems like a death sentence rather than a career. There are no feelings of gratitude for the blessings in your life.
Negative Results of Helplessness
There are so many negative effects of helplessness. When you feel like you are ineffective, you become ineffective. You fail to trust yourself. You stop trying. You can’t see the potential for success. Essentially, you have tunnel vision and all you see is the oncoming train. As you experience these results, you become more dependent upon others. However, at the very end if you don’t change your interactions with others, you eventually drive people away and have no one left to depend upon. Consequently, you end up fulfilling your prophecy of being helpless and incapable of taking care of yourself.
There have been several times in my life where I’ve felt helpless. Many of these times have been at the hands of loved one’s illnesses. Even though I’ve experienced these feelings from time to time, I rarely stay there for long. Instead, I choose to diagnose the problem, strategize, and overcome. I must get moving. Wallowing in feeling sorry for myself is such an uncomfortable feeling for me. Therefore, when I feel incompetent, I immediately begin seeking a solution. How can I fix the problem? What do I need to learn? Who could I find to help me. Where can I learn more?
I felt helpless when my husband had his stroke. When he was critical, I sat there helplessly watching the machines provide him life. I was devastated. All I could do was sit there and stare. Eventually, I began to watch his toes under the sheets. This continued until one day when I saw his right foot move. It was the smallest of twitches.
The nurses didn’t seem impressed when I told them. They said it was likely “involuntary”. But, it motivated me. From that point on, I was dedicated to his recovery. It was time for educating myself, becoming his supporter, and advocating for him. It was time to fix it, to be grateful for the machines and doctors that kept him alive, and to encourage him to give his best for the amazing therapists that knew what to do to help him recover.
Obviously, being grateful is an important aspect of overcoming helplessness, but there are other keys that can help you. Let’s explore the ways that you can overcome helplessness brought on by childhood experiences, tragedies, or just being stuck in a rut.
The first key to help you overcome helplessness and to become more self-sufficient is to identify your underlying beliefs. Think back to a time when you felt the most helpless. What thoughts or beliefs kept you feeling this way? Continue with any other scenarios that left you feeling that way. Do you see any patterns of beliefs that need to be addressed?
Overhaul Your Belief System
Once you’ve identified your negative belief systems, you need to shake ‘em up. For example, if you believe that you’re too stupid to write a book, you need to turn that thought on it’s head. Have you written a sentence before? Are you reading this? If you answered yes to both questions, you can write a book. Pick up a pen and write. This new belief system needs to recognize your capabilities rather than tear them down.
The next key to overcoming helplessness and embracing your competence is to identify effective coping skills. A great place to start is by talking with people who are independent and strong. Maybe one of your friends. Or a mentor. It could even be your boss. Just identify someone and start picking their brain. You will soon realize they have many of your same fears and worries. Yet, they just keep taking another step forward instead of being mired in the muck.
Don’t make your goal to conquer your fears on day one. Instead, start with smaller situations that are little triggers for you. Conquer these situations first. As you find success with these smaller steps, you can continue to refine your goals to eventually overcome the “big” one. Let’s take me for example. I’m terrified of Facebook Live videos. Petrified.
I had my Facebook account set up to record videos before posting them. Then, the other day, I did a FB live and – it was LIVE! When someone commented, I about crapped my pants. I froze and almost clicked the “off” button. I really wanted to, but I did stumble my way through what I wanted to say. Of course, I was sweating, and my heart was racing. Not to mention, I clicked “off” the second I got the words out. Instead of facing that fear head on, I will continue to record more videos, stretch them out to longer segments, and then post them. I’m not ready yet for the “big” one, but I’ll get there. I’m going to keep posting. That’s my low-level fear. Let’s not even get into the heart attack I would have if I had to get up in front of an audience and present. Yikes!
Build on Your Success
By starting small, you can build on your success. I still don’t like doing recordings, seeing my face, or hearing my voice, but each time I do it, I feel more confident. I wasn’t confident prior to doing it. I’m gaining it as I go. As you knock down those little fears of incompetence, you can keep moving up that ladder.
Celebrate Your Success
When you overcome a previous stumbling block, celebrate it. Be grateful for what you’ve accomplished. You deserve it!
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
If you have a lapse back into helplessness, don’t beat yourself up. Everything is a process. you are overcoming a fear or learned belief about yourself. It may take more than one attempt. If it didn’t, you wouldn’t have felt helplessness in the first place.
Ask for Help
You should have a strong support system that will encourage you AND call you on your self-defeating thoughts and behaviors. Furthermore, let them know that you WANT them to call you on these behaviors. At first, they may not believe you.
Cut the Excuses
Stop giving yourself the easy out. You are not helpless. You are a strong and confident woman. Don’t hid behind, “I can’t possibly do that.” Moreover, take the word “try” out of your vocabulary. “Trying” is just an excuse not to do something.
Embrace Your Self-Reliance
As you emerge from helplessness and incompetence, you should embrace the new you. Be grateful for your self-confidence, your self-competence, and your self-reliance.
Are you ready to conquer your helplessness?
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