How to Move Forward When You Feel Utterly Helpless
Want to hear a funny coincidence about this post? I felt utterly helpless writing it.
Yes, this writer learned an important lesson on writing: come up with good ideas first, a snazzy headline, second. Never the other way around.
Too bad I had the formula reversed when I approached Barrie with this idea.
Sitting down to write, the words felt stuck. How ridiculous, really, to feel helpless writing a post about feeling helpless. It didn’t seem possible.
Whether it’s writer’s block or a major life change, feeling helpless is hard. Maybe that’s how you feel today … You're drowning in life and can't get to the surface. No matter how many inspirational stories you read, the helpless feeling won’t go away. You’re wondering, “What’s wrong with me? Why is everyone else so inspired while I’m stuck in the mud?”
That’s how I felt getting this post out, too. I kept thinking, “Is this normal?” then even worse, the negative self-talk began: “How can I call myself a writer? Is this what I’m really meant to do?”
The answer is, yes, but at times, it doesn’t feel like it. At times, I feel like I’m floundering with my titles in life: wife, step-mom, entrepreneur, laundry fairy.
The sinking starts when a full schedule gets hit by one of life’s tsunamis. Like:
- A job loss.
- A depressed family member.
- Kids that turn from children to teenagers.
- Work problems.
- Money problems.
- Ruined plans.
- Wrinkles, gray hair and a lower-by-the-second metabolism.
The list goes on. No matter how much you read about what you should do or could do, that helpless feeling appears every now and then. Ready to come up for air? Try something new:
Be quiet. Turn down the volume on the voice that’s saying: “Everything’s ruined! I can’t do it!” Then, listen to yourself, your intuition. Don’t let the negative talk block the obvious solution. (For me, the answer was, “just start writing.”)
Let go of control. My kids are quick to prove — you can’t control what other people say and do. This makes me feel utterly helpless! When I give up control and focus on helping them, the situation solves itself.
Give yourself permission to make that decision. Some choices can't be sugarcoated, like filing for divorce and bankruptcy. Is the answer clear yet? Find a quiet place and ponder: “What needs to be done?”
Exercise. Give those endorphins a chance to help. Moving the body forward is good practice to do it in circumstance, too.
Go outside. Fresh air clears the senses. A walk in the park or woods can reveal the next path.
Visualize the goal. Want to quit your day job? Find a photo of your dream office. Draw a time line in your notebook. This can lead to clarity on the next step.
Give your mind some empty space to work with. Try a full day without a cell phone, email, Twitter, Facebook – anything demanding attention. Disconnect.
Read stories about other (seemingly) helpless men and women that created movement. Like:
Start an encouragement box. Whenever a kind email or card comes your way, slip it into the box to revisit during helpless moments.
Ask for help. Will your mom, sister or best friend have a solution? Or try my personal lifesaver: Mr. Google.
Ask: what's missing? A college degree to reach the next level within the company? Reasonable childcare so you can get a second job? Professional help?
Lie down in the middle of the floor and stare at the ceiling. Force a new perspective.
Pray or meditate.
If you are dealing with a person, say: “I need some help understanding this.”
Sit down and cry. No one wants to feel depressed, sad or angry. We want to have it all together. We want to be the writer that never gets stuck. I know firsthand – the expectation to be ok or perfect is suffocating.
So take a pass, hit the backspace, start over. Once you clear out the emotion, get ready. That inspired breath of fresh air finally rushes in, and you can start moving forward boldly.
This is a guest post by Melissa Gorzelanczyk of Peace & Projects.