The Helplessness You Learn, The Choice You Make

Helplessness isn’t just something you bring home after a crappy day at school, or work.  It isn’t the kind of thing you wake up with out of nowhere.  It isn’t a passing spell of the heart or mind.


No.  It’s something more…

It’s something learned.

Something you get slowly, over time, when all the world seems against you, and every person stands to oppose you; when every day is difficult, and every obstacle a mountain; when those who should love you – should care – do neither.

It’s the kinda thing that’s ingrained in you; that’s beaten into you; that grows in you.

Until your every goal and dream seem to you impossible.

Until all hope of anything more, anything better is forever bled away.

Until simply being happy, being normal is more fantasy than possibility.

It’s something you feel in your bones, and in the depths of your heart, and hear in your thoughts, and in the words of others.

It isn’t nothing.

It’s real.

Too many self-help sites get caught up in the idea that what’s not tangible has no effect.  That what can’t be held can’t hold you back.  That all the shit you think prevents you is nothing more than thoughts in your mind, and the choices you make.

But anyone who’s been there knows better.

Anyone who’s been there knows what true helplessness feels like.

The hopelessness.

The despair.

They know it isn’t simply the things we think, or the things we do.

It’s something more.

And it’s very real.

And so…

…I can’t help but pause at the thought of those who feel helpless.

Truly helpless.

I think of the many people who have every reason to feel helpless – people beaten and abused, people addicted and out of control, people whose lives have been ruined, their families torn apart, their spirits broken.

I think of the regular teen struggling with self-esteem issues, the average parent struggling with their job and family, the people who don’t think they can do what they can do.

What could anyone possibly say to someone in such a situation?

What use could any new belief or outlook have for that person, so unbelievably damaged from circumstances beyond their control, and beyond whatever limits they are seemingly capable of withstanding, from broken homes they would do anything to fix?

It almost feels asshole-ish to say to them, or any, that simple changes in their life, in their most basic beliefs and thoughts, in the actions they take can yield tremendous effect on their lives; that the smallest changes produce the greatest rewards; that in changing one thing, you change everything.

And then they says that things aren’t that simple, that it isn’t that easy, that “you don’t understand”…

But then I always think, “What you should do?”

Or you ask yourself: “What should I do?”

What exactly?

What should you do?  What other options do you have?

So you were given this crappy scenario, or put in that crappy situation.  So this thing you wanted never came, or that person you wanted no longer wanted you.

What should you do?

What, because of this or that, those or them, you’re supposed to accept it?  You’re supposed to be okay with it, to live with it?  Not just today, but forever?

You’re supposed to accept the pain and guilt, the remorse and the anger; accept waking up each day pissed and sad, lonely or lost?

That’s your fate?

That’s what you were meant for?

In this you have no other choice?

In this you lose?

What the fuck?

I get how hard…

…life can be.

I get how hard life is; how unfair it is, uncompromising even, random.

It sucks sometimes.  But bad things happen.  And they happen to good, honest people; to people with no malice in their heart, no cruelty, no judgment or fear, no vengeance or jealousy; people who would do anything for another, and have given everything for others; people who deserve better, deserve more, who’d do anything to change what has come to them, or become of them.

These things happen everyday, all around the world, and will always; not only to the worst you’ve ever met, but to the best; not only to friends and family members, but to yourself.

And at it’s worst it seems as if the world has closed to you; that all possibility of good and right has ended; that there’s no hope; that there will never be change.

You feel helpless.

Completely helpless.

But what else are we supposed to do?  What should you do?

We have to be better.  We have to make of it what we can.  We have to accept it and move on.  We have to be stronger and wiser because of it.

We have to be happy regardless.

Because our sadness doesn’t help us.  Because this wallowing only hurts us.  Because we can.

Because faced with the choice of the helplessness you now carry, and something – anything – better, the answer should be obvious.

There are no excuses.  There may be no perfect way either, but there are no excuses.

We can think of many, sure.

I’m too old.  I’m too fat.  I’m too ugly.  I’m too late.  I’m too unfortunate.  I can’t afford it.  I can’t leave them.  I can’t do it.  I can’t be it.

But wherever you are, in whatever condition you now live, with whatever obstacle now obstructs you…whatever reason you may have, it is NOT reason enough to be less than you are capable of.

It’s not reason enough to give up.

It’s not reason enough to live a loser, when you can be so much more.

Know that there exists someone somewhere who has endured all that you have and worse, yet has made of it more than you would have ever dreamed possible.

Know that there are those who have found the same pain and misfortune as you now experience, yet saw only hope and opportunity.

Know that there are people who have never yet, and never will, let the world dictate their being; who believe with every fiber of their being that they are, and have always been, ultimately responsible for their lives, their selves, their existence.

What would that person do?

What would they think – if they were You?

Would they wallow in misery – like you?  Would they sit there crying, and pitying themselves and their misfortune?  Would they give up?

Fuck no.

Would they say they’re “helpless”?


Cause it doesn’t matter to them.  Nothing matters to them.  Only their desires.  Only their dreams.  Only the what they want, and how to get it.

They are better than their misfortune.  Better than their excuses.  Stronger than anything that might stand in their way or get in their way.

To them – they decide their life.  They make their happiness.

You tried excuses…

…and nothing changed.

You tried blaming.  You tried cursing.  You tried surrendering.

And it left you nothing.

A life you hate.  A Self you can’t stand.

Now try trying.

Cause maybe the answer is too cheesy.  Maybe the best advice is too simple.

But what else are we supposed to do?  What should we do?

I know wasn’t going to live like a loser anymore – depressed and lonely, shy and scared.  I wasn’t gonna be that person I hated anymore.

Not for one more day.

I had no other choice.

I ran out of excuses.

And my helplessness died that day.


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2 Responses to The Helplessness You Learn, The Choice You Make

  1. Michelle says:

    I came across your website and really like your articles. Keep it coming.

  2. Adam Austyn says:

    Thanks for the support!

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