Escaping the Clutches of Helplessness

Feelings of helplessness can be entangled in our sense of identity.

Feelings of helplessness can be entangled in our sense of identity.

We can all feel fragile at times, fading feebly in and out like a tiny sparkle in the vast firmament. It’s easy then to feel helpless, overlooked, insignificant, and unappreciated.

An entanglement in helpless feelings can certainly dampen our light, leaving us afraid to be venturesome. We can feel befuddled, overwhelmed, or exhausted, buffeted about by the winds of misfortune. Disappointment, dissatisfaction, and the sorrow of not living up to our potential are likely to haunt us.

A chronic sense of helplessness keeps us from believing in ourselves, trusting ourselves, and pursuing our destiny. Our self-regulation weakens, and we fall prey to impulses to overeat, overspend, and overindulge. We also lose our ability to regulate our emotional life or maintain physical health, causing us to sink into apathy or become increasingly bitter, depressed, or ill.

We are indeed helpless when it comes to influencing many events and situations. We accept this fact with equanimity when we’re emotionally strong. But we can’t accept it so easily when plagued by chronic helplessness. Instead, like a turtle on its back, we experience the personal challenges of daily life through a painful sense of being unable to rise to the occasion. [Read more…]

Why We Fear and Hate the Truth

We downsize the mystery of life and package it into bite-size convictions.

Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened. – Winston Churchill.

We fear and hate many of truth’s disclosures because they’re often accompanied by narcissistic insults. What’s a narcissistic insult? It’s a bulletin from reality that, while capable of smartening us up, offends our ego. To avoid such insults, we cling to our illusions and limit our intelligence and inner freedom.

History records how truth has threatened our self-regard. People of the 16th Century ignored the new scientific findings and clung to their ego-gratifying illusion that the earth was the center of the universe. Three centuries later, Charles Darwin delivered a narcissistic insult when he considered the likelihood that man had descended from ancient apes, a prospect that horrified the proud architects of the Industrial Age. Four decades later, another profound narcissistic insult was leveled when Sigmund Freud contended, in The Interpretation of Dreams, that much of our mental and emotional life at any given moment is unconscious. Our ego, that self-centered me that pretends to know us intimately, was gravely insulted. George Bernard Shaw remarked soon afterwards: “All great truths begin as blasphemies.” [Read more…]