Feeling Powerless? Let’s Not Leave it Up to St. Patrick!

“Luck only exists if you create it yourself. Create the opportunities.” ― Mwanandeke Kindembo

We all have times where we feel powerless, helpless, and at the mercy of our life circumstances. Maybe we have experienced a devastating loss or we are going through a difficult transition, and we just feel stuck. At such times, we may feel bogged down by the recurring message that we cannot make it through or change our circumstances because this is just how it goes. 

…Luckily this is untrue. Just because we may feel powerless and helpless does not mean that is actually the case. So how can we take the wheel back after a particularly unlucky streak? It may feel a little New Age-y or counterproductive to devote brainpower to the notion of luck, but understanding the role of luck in our lives and how to take advantage of what we have is a critical component of maximizing our success and taking some power back into our lives. 

Here are a few suggestions to get us started in creating our own luck:

  1. Figure out why we feel helpless. This may seem obvious or unnecessary, but understanding our triggers is monumental in avoiding them in the future. So let’s begin by identifying what triggers us to feel helpless and look to see if we are keeping things in our lives that continually trigger that helplessness. If we are having a difficult time letting something triggering go, a trained therapist can help.
  2. Recognize faulty thoughts.  Next, we need to identify faulty thoughts of our own. There are a million examples of these type of thoughts; here are a few: I’m stuck, I can’t change, this is just how things are now, I am a victim here, life is unfair. These sentiments may be warranted for half a second, but do not benefit us when we hold tight to them. We need to recognize when they creep in/up, name them and then focus on rooting them out. 
  3. Challenge those helpless thoughts/feelings. Once we recognize the helpless, downer thoughts, let’s flip them around.  Instead of, I can’t do this, flip the negativity to, I don’t know how to do this but I am capable and I will figure it out! Practice positive self-talk, problem solve, and find a solution!
  4. Focus on what we CAN control. This is where action comes into play. Even if we have all the reason to be on the ground after getting repeatedly pummeled by life’s crappy circumstances, we have the choice of whether or not we will stay there or not. Let’s not stay down. Let’s figuratively get up, dust ourselves off, and take action in whatever way(s) we can. Even if bad luck gets in your way, you can often mitigate its effects by continuing to make the right small choices for the right reasons.
  5. Identify and employ our strengths/skills. Part of doing what we can control includes figuring out what our strengths are and playing to them…or using them to better our situation. For example, one of my friend is very organized. When her life was feeling particularly out of control, she started where she could and organized the pile of papers next to the fridge; not only did using one of her strengths calm her down amidst a chaotic situation, but she also found some important documents she needed to solve a separate issue. Two birds, one stone!
  6. Seek help when we need it.  There are many ways we can go about this–whether it is from letting in a close, trusted friend or family member, to asking a neighbor for help, or even to seeking professional assistance from a trained, licensed therapist. It takes strength to ask for help. Doing so can help us take some control over our life circumstances.

Powerlessness is a feeling that comes from not having control over something important in our lives. We can feel powerless over our addiction, our mental health, our relationships, or our finances. Feeling powerless is a normal and human response to stress that we will all experience from time to time. It is not a matter of if we will feel this way, but how we will respond when we do. I encourage each of us to identify when/why we feel helpless, then recognize and challenge those thoughts/feelings, focus on what we can control by using our strengths and skills, and seek help when we need it. Most importantly, know and trust that these feelings will not stick around forever! We can bounce back, push forward, and come out on top as we work hard and create a little bit of our own luck. 

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to all my readers out there. May it be a beautiful day of creating power and luck. 🙂

Melissa Cluff is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based in North Texas, providing face-to-face and telehealth therapy options to clients in Texas.


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Melissa Cluff, MS, LMFT, CSAT

Melissa Cluff is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist based in North Texas, providing face-to-face and telehealth therapy options to clients in Texas.