stop thinking that you’re helpless

Have you ever sold some furniture items before moving to a new place and during this process had to wait for a prospective buyer? They might have told you that they would be there between 10 am and noon, but it’s 2.30 pm and you still haven’t heard from them? Plus, they aren’t even responding to your calls; has something like this happened to you? And did it make you feel sad, anxious and stressed out?

You sort of felt like a victim in this situation, that you couldn’t do anything about this, didn’t you? These kinds of feelings are categorized under learned helplessness, a term in psychology that basically translates to “There is absolutely nothing I can do and that feels horrible.” It has been reported that learned helplessness can cause stress and anxiety, and even lead to depression. 

Chances are you might be feeling the same during these tumultuous times. That there is nothing you can do right now. But it is important to remember that there are always two strategies to deal with any problem that we face. 

The first one is changing our emotional reaction to the challenge in front of us. We must take charge of our emotions and ensure that we respond appropriately, not react irrationally, to that event. Focusing on harboring hope and positivity within us, practicing inverse gratitude, making sure that we keep our stress levels in check, becoming kind and compassionate, and helping others — all these avenues can get us in a better and healthier emotional state. Again, this is a good time to remember the success formula by Jack Canfield: E + R = O (Events + Responses = Outcome).  We might have no control over what happens to us, but we are in charge of how we respond to it. And that can help us reduce anxiety and stress within us.

The second strategy is becoming solution-focused, where we do everything to address the most pressing issues and solve the problem at hand. Now, a majority of us neither have the expertise nor the acumen to cure this disease, however, we can all take necessary precautions and do our part by engaging in social distancing, hand washing frequently, and staying home in order to flatten the numbers. And if you’re a wealthy and generous person, you can even donate some of your fortune towards research and relief efforts. 

Are we going through strange and surreal times and being constantly overwhelmed by the current events? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean we’re helpless and cannot improve our situation  — even a tiny bit — and do positive things for ourselves and our fellow humans.