Feeling powerless is easy. It comes naturally to us. It’s understandable. In the larger scheme of life, we’re tiny insignificant specks. No one is truly larger than life.
We can even feel invisible and ineffectual in our own little slice of the universe—a country, community, family, or workplace.
So, what’s the point?
What I do (or don’t do) may not have a point—to the outside world. But that doesn’t mean I’m helpless. Paradoxically, creating an identity that I’m powerless is in itself a powerful, albeit destructive, choice.
If we have the ability to turn off our own power and sink into apathy and despair, we should be able to turn the light back on.
Stepping out of a powerless mentality doesn’t involve a lot of steps. But it has two crucial, and not so easy, requirements:
- Awareness of the choices we’re making
- Flexibility in how we see ourselves and the world
The following three ideas, if adopted, will cause a shift in the way we think about our ability to act.
As I’ve been facing my own doubts and inaction, I’ve been using the guidelines below to change how I think about my ability to choose.
These are simple reminders. But they go against deep beliefs and social norms. So, you need to be relentless in working with them.
1. Feelings are signals—not commandments.
Feeling powerless happens to almost everyone. Life is much bigger than any, or all, of us.
Painful feelings are signals that something’s out of alignment with our truth and values. They’re not commandments to be followed blindly.
It’s okay to feel helpless—as long as we don’t internalize the feeling and turn it into an identity that warps our reality. Or worse, fight how we feel and create more needless pain.
When we recognize that feelings happen, we simply feel the sensations till they subside and go on with our lives, without being dragged down by negativity.
Every time you feel you can’t do anything, take a moment to breathe. Then shift your focus to a choice you can make right now.
2. Binary choice: we always have at least two options.
In any situation, we always have at least two options to choose from: yes, and no.
You can choose to do, or not do, something. You can choose to say, or not say, something. You can choose to believe, or not believe, something. It’s always your call.
You can vote for a candidate, or not. You can read an article, or not. You can support a local business, or not. It’s your choice—regardless of the outcome.
You can take action to support yourself, or someone else. You can stop doing something to support yourself, or someone else.
Each yes, or no, comes with its consequences. One option, or both, may not be pleasant. But the choice among the two options is still ours.
3. Outer power is the result, not the cause.
When we look at the outside world, we get the impression that only a few people make the decisions that matter. Financial wealth, political influence, social status, or fame appear to be the source of power. But they’re not.
Any form of outer power is only the result of inner power exercised constantly.
Power comes from individual conscious choices repeated consistently over time.
Saying yes to taking a ten-minute walk may not be a big deal. But do it daily for a year, and it will transform your life.
The same principle applies to any choice.
No single choice matters that much. But the cumulative effect of many small choices is what makes anything in life happen.
You many not change the world. You may not even matter to anyone else. But you are definitely significant to you.
Your choices will make a difference in your life. And that’s the whole point, and the ultimate manifestation of inner power.
So, when you feel helpless and dejected, ask yourself this question, and keep asking it:
Would I rather live a helpless, or an empowered life—even if it’s only for me?
Related articles you might find helpful:
- True Power
- Detachment vs. Apathy: How to Let Go of Control without Giving Up
- The Soul Crushing Belief That Stops You from Even Trying
- 7 Actions You Can Take Right Now (No Matter Where You Are)