The Power of Feeling Powerless
You know the feeling. You’ve gotten horrible news. You’re standing at the scene of an accident. You were just laid off. A few things may be happening at this moment. You may be feeling the acidic taste of adrenaline in the back of your throat. You might feel a tightness in your chest from the panic. You may also be feeling something else-- the dreaded knowledge and/or fear that you are powerless over the ensuing events. That can be one of life’s most horrible emotions. Part of the reason why is obvious: without power, how can we get out of situations? The other reasons it can feel so crushing are a bit more nuanced. As humans, we are used to being in control. When a person, a situation, or life in general takes power from us, that can lead to sadness, anger, even rage.
So what to do? Can we take the power back? The short answer is often no, but there are ways to manage the frustration. In an emergency there are certainly steps to be taken, whether it’s calling 9-1-1 or staying clear of danger. In a more personal situation, where no one is in imminent danger, it’s often best to rely on old stress-relief tactics: steady breathing, a quiet place, and the comfort of a loved one.