Why do i feel helpless

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Why do i feel helpless

Helplessness is the feeling someone gets when he finds himself unable to change something in his life that is important to him. Helplessness is one major cause of depression since depression in many cases can be nothing more than a feeling someone gets when he loses hope in getting something that he really wanted.

Just like an electric current flows in a circuit, motivation flows in our minds as long as the circuit is connected but when the wire is torn the current stops flawing and we lose motivation.

This wire becomes torn when we feel helpless or when we think that we are not in control of the circumstances. One of the most important definitions of helplessness is the loss of control over someone’s life.

The Anatomy of helplessness

So if helplessness is one of the major causes of depression then we need to understand how do we develop the feelings of helplessness so that we can avoid them. The following list explains the main causes behind feelings of helplessness:

  • Lack of control causes helplessness: As long as our actions are related to the outcomes we get we feel in control even if the outcomes were bad. For example, if a student didn’t study then failed an exam he won’t feel helpless simply because he will attribute his failure to not studying hard but if a student studied hard and got a B instead of the A he expected then he might feel helpless!!
  • Past experience and learned helplessness: In My article learned helplessness I explained how can we learn to become helpless when we face several situations that we fail to deal with. No one is born helpless but we learn how to become helpless as a result of facing problems that we have no control over
  • Lack of skills causes helplessness: Do you remember Macgyver? The guy was totally unstoppable because of his ability to invent devices that helped him deal with the problems he faced. If you don’t have enough skills to deal with life problems then surely you will become helpless
  • Helplessness infection: Some people have learned to become helpless before even facing life problems as a result of listening to helpless friends talking about their past experiences. (See how your friends influence you)
  • Belief system problems: Once someone develops a belief like "I am failure" or "Life is unfair" he becomes helpless for the rest of his life!! After all one of the reasons we become motivated to do something is believing that we can do it, if that belief was replaced with a helpless one then surely helplessness will replace motivation.

How to stop Feeling helpless?

As you saw there are many causes for the feelings of helplessness. Dealing with helplessness requires that you find out the causes behind your own helpless feelings then apply one of the following methods:

  • Be in control: Talking is easy I know and feeling in control might not be as easy as it sounds but there are lots of actions that you can do that can restore the sense of control to your life including long term planning, developing internal locus of control and taking responsibility for your actions. For detailed information about being in control of your life see How to be in control of your life
  • Avoid friends who program you: The stories you hear can shape your beliefs and affect your life. In my book How to make someone fall in love with you I even explained how you can make someone love you by programming his mind through repetition. Stop listening to stories about failures and avoid those who program your mind with false beliefs
  • Learn how to identify and remove false beliefs: In my article awaken your inner giant i explained how can you identify and get rid of false beliefs. If you want to get rid of helplessness then read it now
  • The most important advice: Be like Macgyver!! Learn new skills, read books, be curious to learn anything new, watch your friends who mastered certain skills and learn from them. The more skills you have the less likely you are to become helpless

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