Q: I feel helpless in the face of the world’s suffering. I don’t know what to do about the pain I see all around me. It’s driving me crazy.
Well, you know, it takes a lot of energy and attention to drive yourself crazy. If you redirect that energy away from “feeling helpless” and bring it into alignment with your desire to benefit, you may come up with some creative solutions. I’ll explain.
“Helpless” is a judgment, not a feeling. But when we label judgments as feelings, we trap ourselves. Why? Because we’re responding to the judgment as a feeling, as part of us.
If you think you’re helpless, if you believe the thought that you’re helpless, you’re going to feel sad and discouraged. Anybody would. That just shows you work perfectly, it doesn’t mean the judgment is part of your being.
You see, the thing is, our feelings are simply our own being vibrating. Just like there’s a certain vibratory level that our organ of sight can perceive as sight, and a type of vibratory level that our ears can hear, we experience a different band of vibration as emotions. And that’s just us, vibrating.
In the hypnotic nature of our mind –– take nouns, for example –– we label emotions like joy, sadness, anger or whatever, so we think they’re separate things. So we may say, “I have a problem with anger, I’m going to solve my anger problem, I’m going to get rid of it.” And so we repress the anger. As we continue along in our life, after a while we say, “Well, I’m not angry anymore, but I notice I’m not that joyful, either.”
That’s because we can’t single out one emotion and repress it. That emotion is our capacity to vibrate in action. In order to repress an emotion we have to freeze our whole capacity to vibrate. That’s the only way you can reduce an emotional response.
So that’s the first thing. Our emotions are a manifestation of us vibrating in a certain way. They are our very being, vibrating. That’s why we have absolute conviction in the truth of the emotion. That emotion is our very being, vibrating with life.
The vibration, in this case, is sadness and discouragement, because you believe the thought, “I’m helpless.” But if you say, “I feel helpless,” you’re transferring the truth of vibrating, to that thought of helplessness. Then we’re convinced because we think, “Am I helpless? Yeah, I can feel it right here in my chest.”
But no. The true thought is, “If and when I believe I’m helpless . . . I feel sad and discouraged.” Do I have to believe I’m helpless? Well, maybe I am! At that point, you could take a moment. You don’t have to try to fight with it and come to some quick decision.
You can say to yourself, “OK, I’ll be open-minded. I may be helpless, but it’s only fair that you give me the evidence. If you give me the evidence that I’m helpless, then I’ll believe it. But until you can give me the evidence, I’m not going to feel sad and discouraged. And I’m not going to drive myself crazy.”
How to Help Yourself Out of Helplessness
1. Try this for a moment: Examine a familiar negative “feeling.” Something like, “I feel like I’ll never succeed” or “I feel like I’m not good enough” or “I feel like she is prettier than me.”
2. Now notice the language of these “bad feelings.” They each contain “feel like.” Almost anytime someone says “I feel like,” what comes after “like” will be a judgment, not a feeling. During the normal course of your day, catch these “feel like” thoughts and develop your ability to recognize that what comes after “like” is a judgment, not a feeling.
3. When you have some clarity about your “feel like” thoughts, practice restructuring them: “When I believe the judgment ____(fill in the blank), what do I feel?” Then ask, “what is the evidence that is convincing me to believe this judgment?” Notice what you discover.
I recommend you write this exercise in a journal so you can keep track of, and study, what comes up.
Two important tips: A feeling statement will contain an emotion: “I feel sad,” or “I feel angry.”
Also, make sure you don’t answer the “What do I feel?” question with another judgment, such as, “I feel like a weirdo.” If you do this, just restructure this statement too: “When I believe X and Y, what do I feel? Is there any valid evidence? Valid means accurate according to the laws of cause and effect, not according to the opinion of others. “That’s what my father always told me” doesn’t count as valid evidence!
This may seem surprisingly challenging at first because we are so habituated to labeling judgments as feelings. But keep at it. Enjoy your mind at work! You can teach it to work with wonderful clarity for your own benefit and be free of “helpless feelings” forever!
© Jack Elias, jackelias.com, permission to share with acknowledgement