For a long time in my life I thought that there are certain things, people, situations… that are good and others that are bad. Everything that I thought was bad made me feel a sense of helplessness, sadness, agitation, anxiety… and all that I thought was good, made me feel happy, peaceful, calm, joyous…
My Journey: Helplessness to Happiness
What was good and what was bad was a decision based on what I had learnt from observing & listening to people around me. Since my feelings were based on these things, people, situations… most of which I had no control over, I felt a terribly sense of helplessness.
Helplessness: Playing Dead
I even learnt to become fine with this helplessness (or at least I thought I was fine) and did nothing to feel better (play dead)…. till something happened, something that shook me.
Then I started asking questions, questions like why me?
More Helplessness: Asking “Why Me“?
And this frustrated me and made me feel more helpless because I started thinking even more about those things and people who were (as I thought) responsible for my misery.
Overcoming Helplessness with Positive thinking: Suppression
Then one day I read a very good note / article that was shared by my friend on how our feelings are rarely dependent on what happens to us but are majorly a result of “What part of the experience are we focusing on?“.
This got me thinking, and I changed my question to “Is there something good that I can find in this situation?”
I wanted to look at the positive side as I thought some emotions like anger, sadness… are negative & I shouldn’t feel them. So I began intellectualising and found positive ways of looking at those situations where I felt these emotions.
I was able to resolve a lot of my problems (or at least I thought) by simply looking at the positive side. The sense of helplessness that I was earlier experiencing at a conscious level also reduced to some extent.
At the same time there were other situations where no matter how positive I tried to be, I just wasn’t able to resolve them.
I kept suppressing emotions and pushing these situations under the carpet in the pretext of being positive but the so called negative emotions just kept coming back and each time with higher intensity.
This made me wonder, what was I missing? Why am I still feeling helpless?
Overcoming Helplessness: Missing Link
As I read books after books on positive thinking and applied the concepts in my life, I became aware and to some extent sure of the fact that experiences don’t really create problems, all problems are a result of certain so called negative emotions (anger, sadness, guilt…) that we attach to experiences.
Now which emotion is attached to an experience is generally a result of our perspective.
Overcoming Helplessness: Perception
So, if my brother shouts at me and I choose to perceive this shouting as his hatred towards me, I will attach maybe anger with this experience which then becomes the problem but if I perceive the shouting as his love which helped me learn from my mistake then I may even be able to feel good about the entire experience.
This approach helped me in a lot of situations but not all. In fact in some situations it created even more problems for me.
For e.g.: there were some situation where I made some mistakes and I felt guilty. Since I by now knew that problems are result of perception, I started looking for what good could have happened because of this mistake.
The good thing about mind is it finds what it is looking for, which means I was able to find something good even in the worst of situations, which is in a way a really good thing. At the same time I stopped looking at the mistakes as mistakes and hence never learnt from them.
Overcoming Helplessness: It is not just about Positive thinking
I kept repeating the same mistakes and got into a pattern in life which was creating a problem for me but I kept pushing the mistakes / problem under the carpet in the pretext of positive thinking and perception…
All this because I still thought / felt that, if I could keep looking at things with a positive attitude, I would stay away from certain emotions that were considered as negative by me…
That said, I had by now started realising:
- I was pushing a lot of things under the carpet in the pretext of positive thinking and
- Most of my efforts were directed towards staying away from the so called negative feelings.
Overcoming Helplessness: Escapism
When I look back today, its like I was running away from what I truly felt in that moment. I see a lot of people around me doing this today.
One of the basic rules about life that I have observed is:
So I just stopped for a moment (its good to do so once in a while), looked around and spoke to a friend who said:
Overcoming Helplessness: Learning from Experiences
This one statement resulted in a lot of others questions for me like:
- Is it possible that even the so called negative emotions were there to teach me something.
- Is the resolution to my problems in embracing & observing my feelings instead of running away from them.
- And most importantly, if these feelings are there to teach me something, then are they really negative?
These are the question that I leave you with.
If you or someone you know is struggling with a sense of helplessness, it maybe a good idea to connect with a therapist. Feel free to call +91-8080-2084-73, in case you would like to contact a therapist in Mumbai.
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