If there is one word that would best describe how people are feeling right now, it’s: powerless.
For some of us, it’s a sad but familiar feeling we’ve always lived with. For others, it may have started a few months ago when coronavirus catapulted us into quarantine. Either way, it’s safe to say that today, we feel more powerless than we ever have before, and it leaves us confused and uncertain.
What do I do?
What do I say?
Is it enough?
Is it too much?
We’re plagued by overwhelming self-doubt and fear. Fear for ourselves, fear for those around us, fear for our communities at large.
We think to ourselves, “I miss when things were normal,” also fully realizing that things were not perfect when they were normal. They needed improvement. They demanded change.
Some of us may even be responding, through words or actions, but even still, we find ourselves feeling worse than we did before. Our words and actions may feel hollow.
Why? Is it because we said or did the wrong thing?
No. We want to improve the world around us, and we can’t see how we are helping enough, let alone at all. We want to alleviate the fears and worries we have, others have, and we are at a loss.
We try to do what we think is best, but we don’t know if we can even trust what we think or feel anymore.
We’ve lost our bearings.
What do we do when we feel overwhelming powerlessness? Is there anything we can or should do?
Yes. Here are a few things you should always be doing, but now more than ever.
1. Fill your own cup.
When you’re on a plane and getting ready for take off, has it ever struck you as callous that the emergency procedures direct you to put your oxygen mask on first before putting it on your child?
It may seem counterintuitive. “But isn’t my responsibility as a parent to take care of my child?”
Yes. But what good are you to your child if you aren’t alive? Absolutely none.
You have to remember when you feel powerless that you need to put on your oxygen mask first. Especially when people need you and are relying on you.
You cannot take care of others when you’re running on fumes. You cannot fill other people’s cups when yours is empty (or broken). Whether that’s physically, mentally, or emotionally, you have to firmly determine what it is YOU need to take care of yourself, now more than ever.
Is it working out consistently?
Is it eating in a way that replenishes you?
Is it studying for your finals so you can pass your class?
Is it asking your friends and family for companionship and support?
Remember that it isn’t selfish to take care of yourself. It is the MOST responsible thing you can do.
2. Decide what you stand for.
I heard a great quote today that successful brands are never built around tearing others down. The same concept applies to people as well, too.
You will never be successful or happy in life for as long as you only stand in opposition to something. Can opposition be part of what you stand for?
Absolutely. Upon a foundation of what you DO stand for.
You owe it to yourself to determine what your core purpose in life is. What are your values that drive you every day?
What are you creating on earth?
Who is it that you want to become, and why?
The energy we need to propel us forward in our lives comes from hope and vision for a greater future. That vision is dictated by the purpose you have chosen for yourself and the values you have identified as uniquely yours.
Hope is the antidote for powerlessness.
3. Take time.
The only person you can fully control and understand on this earth is yourself. It is through self-agency and self-knowledge that you are able to effect the greatest, most positive change in life.
Change starts with ourselves.
“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. … We need not wait to see what others do.”Mahatma Gandhi
True change requires you to be thoughtful. Understanding who you are and making choices that are aligned with your values are not snap decisions. They are processes.
Processes take time.
Take time to learn. Take time to understand. Take time to listen. Take time to reflect. Take time to decide. Take time to grow.
A famous quote often attributed to Abraham Lincoln says, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
The lesson here is that if you want to regain and utilize power in your life for the better, take this time to sharpen your axe. Trust yourself.
By following these tenets, we remind ourselves that we are in control, we are capable of creating goodness in this world, and that we can trust ourselves.
These are the lessons that bear constant repeating. By understanding them, will we become powerful creators who can effect real, positive change, both in our lives and others’.