Sometimes current events are so heartbreaking that the tragedy makes you feel helpless. You wish you could offer support but don’t know how. At the same time, you’re personally struggling with your own deep sadness.
Unthinkable tragedy struck in recent days in the form of wildfires and shootings. It’s been too close for comfort for most Californians. These have been difficult events to move on from for many across the state and nation.
Maybe it’s the absolutely unthinkable deaths of a dozen from the Borderline incident. Or the many more who perished in the fires.
The much larger surrounding areas where the wildfire smoke was a constant, insidious reminder of untold destruction made things more real, too.
If you’re feeling helpless right now because of difficult current events, you’re not alone. The good news is there are some decisive ways you can take action when bad news hits.
Do Your Best Not to Worry About Things You Can’t Change
These events are worrisome. No one can argue with that. But the problem is that worry isn’t going to take you where you want to go. It isn’t going to make your situation or the situation of those suffering from these events any better.
Someone once said that “Worry is like a rocking chair. It’s a lot of work but it doesn’t get you anywhere.”
That may sound trite in this situation because the reality is you are going to worry. These events will inevitably stress you out on some level.
The challenge is managing that worry, anxiety and sadness. The fact that you feel these initial emotions is a good thing. It means that you’re in touch with your humanity.
There’d be far more cause for concern if such tragedies didn’t affect you.
For the sake of your own personal health, however, there are some things you need to do.
First of all, limit your media exposure. You know what happened. Continually replaying it in your mind or through the media isn’t going to help matters now.
In order for you to move out of the helplessness pattern, you have to move forward after the initial grief. Focus on positive internal dialogue—on things you can actually do to help.
A self-defeating internal dialogue will only make you feel even more paralyzed. But healthy self-talk will help you dig out of those helpless feelings.
If Tragedy Makes You Feel Helpless, You Can Learn to Think Differently and Take Action
Once you choose something different than helpless thinking patterns, you’ll be able to follow up with your actions.
Or, it may happen the other way around. Despite your inner turmoil, you can take action anyway. The feeling of empowerment often comes after you take action despite your feelings of powerlessness.
No, you can’t bring the victims back. And you can’t magically heal the many families suffering the deepest of grief.
But there are some things you can do. And that’s what to focus on now.
Here are some examples of how to take action even in the midst of possibly feeling helpless. The more you do things like these, the more motivated you’ll be to do even more:
· Send a heartfelt letter to someone affected by the tragedies
· Make a donation to ease the suffering caused by these tragedies
· Pray to a higher power for those who are hurting
· Comfort someone in your community who’s struggling (Often in helping others, we find help ourselves).
· Write about how the events make you feel (either in your journal, on social media or for a local publication).
· Resolve to make the world a better place because you were here
· Show people more kindness (We’re all going through our own unique hard times).
· Let go of any bitterness, unforgiveness or hatred you may have for others.
· Form the habit of happiness and positivity
A final step you can take is to do your own research. See what it means to take action versus what it means to remain helpless.
D.B Dilliard-Wright, Ph.D. said this in his Psychology Today article entitled “Getting in Our Own Way”:
“The more we learn about learned helplessness, the less we will be trapped by it.”
The amazing reality is that helplessness is a choice. So is empowerment.
Even though that is true, it isn’t a guarantee that you can always get out of the rut alone. Sometimes you initially need someone to help pull you out.
Talk About Your Feelings with a Trusted Professional
The world can feel quite heavy and sometimes you just need help. A common misconception in our culture is the belief that seeking help means weakness.
The reality is that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Seeking professional support takes great courage and strength.
None of us were meant to get through life alone. And sometimes friends and family can only take you so far. If you’re looking for evidence-based ways to find relief, the Valencia Relationship Institute is here for you.
Tragic events can knock the wind out of the strongest of people sometimes. If you’re feeling helpless and could use some assistance regaining your inner strength, please consider scheduling an appointment today.