Bad Girl, Good Business

Route 66 Installment #23: Are We Really Helpless and Hopeless?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

This is the last post in my “HELP” series.

I had hoped to end it with something upbeat or perhaps snarky.

But last week’s senseless violence and the news of monkeypox have left most of us wondering how much control we really have in life.

Coming on the heels of the pandemic and war, life events beyond our control may leave us feeling helpless.

But, don’t click off this page.  You’re not alone.

Helplessness is a common feeling. It’s one that can be overcome.

So, before you polish off that pint of Ben & Jerry’s or pull those covers over your head, read on!

  • Some people go through their lives with something called “learned helplessness,” which can be pervasive and habitual.  The term was coined in 1967. Some therapists believe that teaching and practicing “learned optimism” can reverse it.
  • Even those of us who are used to feeling in control much of the time can experience waves of helplessness. Death, traumatic events, world news, and problem relationships all can trigger those feelings. The experts agree that some of those feelings can be overcome by:
    • Self-care
    • Volunteering
    • Limiting social media intake
    • Talking about it — with either like-minded friends or a professional
  • A whopping 51 percent of young Americans are feeling hopeless or helpless. We older (and presumably wiser) adults have an obligation to help them weather their storms. As parents and mentors that can be tough, especially when we’re battling our own feelings.

As I age, I realize that I can’t slow down time, stop world events, or even control or influence the behaviors of those around me.

Learning to care for myself and my (shrinking) inner circle is all I’ve got at times. And that can be pretty great!

So, as the month winds down, think about who and what you CAN help, work yourself out of the funk (and that CAN be a lot of work), and attempt to help yourself and those you love.

Please check out our new book too. It offers tips on how to control the things you can — and what to leave up to the universe.

More helpful tips and insights:

BGGB.OkeyDokey-fred 7 ways to overcome feelings of helplessness
BGGB_ShakingHands Need to talk it out? Here are online therapy services.
BGGB_Thumbs-Down-fred Watching the news can mess you up
BGGB_Pointer 7 things you CAN control




  1. I don’t feel helpless within the context of my own life. I feel capable and strong most days. But within the context of our country, I feel frightened. I do watch the news, I am careful who I watch. I search for truth. NO ONE IS GOING TO TELL ME GUNS ARE OKAY!!

  2. I think the pandemic intensified these feelings of helplessness and with each news cycle another weight. I am an empath and it all affects me because I feel TOO much. I’ve had to work hard just to remain on an even keel and somedays it’s a high wire act.

  3. Service definitely brings me out of myself and into a broader, happier circle!
    Great article, Nancy!


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