Why Do We Feel Helpless in Life? How to Fix It?

Written by: Ankita Kathad – MA
(Clinical Psychology)

Last updated date : April 22, 2022

Sam had worked very hard for his math test. But still did not do well. He felt that whatever he did, he could never excel at Math. Sam kept feeling like a loser whenever he had a math test. He felt very helpless. Sam felt that nothing in this world can help him. Many of us feel like Sam in our lives. There are times when we feel that nothing can ease our pain. In those times, we feel helpless. Ever wondered why we feel helpless in life? This article explores more feeling helpless and hopeless.

Chapter 1:
Why Do We Feel Helpless in Life?

Feeling helpless is a state where one feels a lack of motivation to get solutions. It is usually an emotion in response to a stressful event. It can also be a symptom of a mental condition like depression. Helplessness can also follow after trauma. This feeling often springs up when we feel lost. When we think that we can’t do anything to make a situation better. Let us look at some events when we can feel helpless:

  • When we lose a job.
  • We can feel helpless when we see a scary event like abuse on the road.
  • We can feel helpless when we lose a game.
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Chapter 2:
How Helplessness Can Show Up

Helplessness can show up physically and mentally. Let us look at physical symptoms:

  • You can have some symptoms that are the same as nervousness. This can include sweating, feeling scared or having a fast heartbeat.
  • One can experience fatigue.
  • You can find difficulty in sleeping.

Helplessness can show up mentally too.

  • You can feel very sad. You can also experience crying all the time.
  • One may start avoiding tasks.
  • A person can feel no motivation to work.
  • You may suffer from low self-respect
  • You can feel like giving up.
  • A person may panic all the time.
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Chapter 3:
What Is Hopelessness?

Hopelessness is different from helplessness. When we don’t feel positive, we experience hopelessness. It means a lack of hope. Helplessness is a lack of control. When we are hopeless, we feel there is nothing good left in life. We may feel that there is no scope for good in future. Here a person feels very negative.

Here are some common causes of hopelessness:

  • When we are going through a breakup or loss of a loved one
  • We can feel hopeless if we are financially broke.
  • We can also feel this when we have a health condition. For instance, people with cancer can feel hopeless.
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Chapter 4:
How Does Hopelessness Show Itself?

Hopelessness affects mental health in a very bad way. People can feel depressed or suicidal. They will feel that there is no point in living life. They think it’s better to end it. More so, people can get addicted to harmful substances like alcohol. Feeling of hopeless can be like:

  • I have no hope for a better tomorrow.
  • My condition will always be the same.
  • I will never come out of this bad time.
  • No one can end my pain.
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Chapter 5:
Why Do We Feel Helpless and Hopeless in Life?

Feeling helpless and hopeless is mostly in response to a negative life event. Often life offers traumatic events where a person couldn’t control anything. This can make them feel helpless in future events too. When people feel dejected, they can feel hopeless. For instance, people will see others living a life of happiness and think, “why am I not happy like them?” This can leave them hopeless. They will think that they can never be happy. Sometimes people also think that their pain is the worst. This can make them hopeless.

In many cases, situational factors can leave someone feeling helpless and hopeless. For instance, in a war situation, people cannot always save other citizens. Here they can end up feeling helpless. If a person has lost all the family in that war, they will find no hope in living their lives.

There are many things that we can’t control. For example, a medical condition like terminal cancer. In this case, a parent of the dying child will feel helpless. The child who is dying can feel hopeless. In these times it is important to know what we can do when we are feeling helpless amad hopeless.

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Chapter 6:
What to Do When We Feel Helpless in Life?

Feeling helpless is natural. We all want to control the events in our lives. But we are only mortals. Here are some ways that can help you through when you are feeling helpless:

  • Stop running away: Often when we feel helpless, we tend to hide or run away. We may try to cope with the feeling in an unhealthy way. This can involve binge eating, denial and ignoring our feelings. It is important to acknowledge how we feel and accept that we can’t control everything. It is important to ask ourselves, Why we feel helpless in the first place. When we get to know the answer to this question, we can find solutions better.
  • Journaling: When we write down how we feel, we can also understand why we feel helpless. The best way to feel better is by writing. In helplessness, we feel a lack of control. When we write, we slow down and think of possible solutions. Writing helps you understand your innermost fears and deepest feelings. When we read our problems, we understand better why we feel helpless in life.
  • Practice meditation and deep breathing: When all seems to be out of control, getting hold of our breath is a good option. This is because it helps us cool down and look at problems in a better way. In your meditation, practice looking at your problems from a third person’s perspective. Breathing calms our nervous system, making us feel more in control.
  • Talk to someone: When you feel that there are no solutions, talk to another person. They can offer some insights you hadn’t thought of.
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Chapter 7:
What to Do When We Feel Hopeless?

When we go through negative events or emotions, we fall into a loop. Here we feel low motivation and optimism. This stops us from giving our hundred per cent to a task. We end up doing bad at the task. This further disappoints us. Again we may face low positivity. It is difficult to stay positive when we are sad or going through a serious problem. Here are some simple ways of managing hopelessness.

  • Exercise: This may sound stupid at first. However, when we exercise, our body releases feel-good hormones. These provide us with a boost of positive feelings to rise. This is a simple and cost-effective technique for instant positivity. It may not solve your problems but it will make your body feel good. This can include running, yoga or simply stretching.
  • Seek help: If you feel hopeless for a very long time, it is time to seek professional help. Talk to a counsellor who will help you understand the root cause. Engage in groups of people who have overcome hardships in life. Some therapies seek to challenge the negative assumptions of a person. It can help in reframing negative thoughts.
  • Watch positive content: There is a saying, fake it till you make it! When you watch positive videos or read positive books, it can help you look at life in a new way. You will feel, “if that person can do it, so can I!” You will also understand that many people go through the same problems as yours. This will make you feel less lonely.
  • Positive engagement: Engage in social events that brighten up your mood. Join some new clubs. Talk to your loved ones. You can pursue a hobby. Activities like gardening have shown positive results.
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Chapter 8:
Feeling Helpless and Hopeless-Part and Parcel of Life!

We all go through times of helplessness and hopelessness. Without these, we may not be able to appreciate good things in life. They are a part of our lives and we cannot deny them. We all face tough times when we have no motivation. Life cannot always be rosy. The main thing is to learn how to handle these negative life emotions and move on in life. It is important to know about healthy ways of coping. At Epsychonline, we offer courses that help people deal with these emotions. These courses are curated by experts. Do check them out!