The Other Side of Helplessness

otherside of helplessnessPsychological Abuse and Control is often facilitated by uncovering the insecurities of another person and continuing to feed into them.  These insecurities are added to with aggressive, passive aggressive and demeaning remarks or actions that work to further lower the victim’s self-esteem. In addition to the work on directly trying to make a person feel “less than,” techniques are used to isolate the person being targeted. That way the primary message of “you aren’t good enough” is not diluted by outside positive perspectives.

Reality is more of what we dwell on than the circumstances we are placed within.

Two people can be placed in the exact same environment, yet have two opposite opinions of their experiences. The more a mind, which is open to accepting the negative comments made towards them, hears those comments, especially without strong positive reinforcement to counteract them, the more the person being targeted falls into a reality that feels hopeless.

If there was a previous abusive relationship or even abuse as a child, where the victim felt helpless in changing their situation when the abuse occurred, subsequent relationships with abusive patterns will often continue.  This is true even if the victim has the ability to easily leave the unhealthy situation.  This concept has been coined as Learned Helplessness. After being in a situation that was fully out of their control, or lead to believe it was out of their control, they will accept similar abuse in future relationships. They have literally learned to be helpless. Also, part of this equation is a struggling self-esteem in believing that “I don’t deserve more” or “I don’t deserve to be happy.” Often times, as individuals begin to experience happiness, they will pull away or sabotage the things that make them happy. Those who have Learned Helplessness will generally ignore or give much less weight to positive feedback than they do the negative feedback that reinforces their current beliefs.

Just as negative comments and actions can shape a mind open to hearing those negative words, positive reinforcement can positively alter the reality of the one receiving that positive affirmation.  Separating the True Self from labels is also important. In schools, the justice system, communities and more, the use of labels coerce people to believe that’s who they are. In the novel Lulled, Cliff Patterson says it eloquently when he states,

“Some are blessed with ability that can be highlighted on the field, some are blessed with the ability to solve problems and create solutions for the world to use, and ALL are blessed by being part of what unites us all…that part of us that makes each one of us INCREDIBLE. Always remember that. Know that. Feel that. Embrace that. And, BE that. You are important because of who you are, beyond the abilities and limitations your body and your mind provide you.”

A fourth tactic used to control another person is to identify what is important to that person and to make them fear they will lose it.  For example, with mothers children are often used as leverage to control the mother’s actions in these types of unhealthy relationships.  Continuous fear tactics around the mother losing the things that mean more to her than anything else in the world can cause her to submit to the demands of the perpetrator. Even when there is no rational reason to believe a mother may lose her children, she will often believe it, having been subjected to that “brainwashing” over the years.

Abusive tactics used to control:

  1. Feed into current insecurities
  2. Use demeaning words or actions to create more insecurities and further lower self-esteem
  3. Isolate to separate from outside positive perspectives
  4. Utilize things that are important to the victim to control them

So, how do you get on the other side of helplessness?

Acceptance: Acknowledge what’s happening.  Is your situation being shaped by a lack of self-esteem or a false label of who you are? Just acknowledging and then accepting your current position, puts you in a situation to be able to change it. Acknowledging what occurs, when it occurs, enables you to be mindful of what is actually happening.  That’s when change begins to happen.  Just considering that you may be more than you have been taught to believe, opens up that crack in the unhealthy mentality that can allow different and positive perspectives to creep in.  Add to this positive self-talk, where you make a specific effort to recognize the positive qualities you do have.

Presence: Now is the only true reality.  Your kids are with you now and they have not been taken away. As you feel anxiety and fear build up, acknowledge the Now. Presence doesn’t necessarily come naturally, but it can be learned.  As with everything, the more you practice, the more natural it becomes.

  • Listen intently to conversation or what’s going on around you
  • Be mindful about not oscillating between the past and the future
  • Observe what’s going on around you intently
  • Allow yourself to be in touch with your true authentic feelings. It takes practice when you’ve been condition to keep your feelings buried
  • Take Breaks and Clear your mind:
    • Take conscious breaths and feel the air flow in and out of your lungs. There are specific techniques like 4-7-8 Breathing that have been studied for reducing anxiety
    • Meditate to reduce the “noise” in your mind. There are many options and forms out there. Find what feels right for you. Two forms validating the positive impact of meditation through studies are Transcendental Meditation (significant cost associated) and Natural Stress Relief.
    • Still the mind through body movement, especially movement that expresses the emotion built up inside yourself
    • Find and do what gives you peace and clarity. Ensure that is part of each day.

Mindfulness is intertwined with both Acceptance and Presence.  It is about being conscious and deliberate with tasks at hand, as well as being conscious and deliberate about the breaks that are needed to clear your mind.

In summary, there is another side to helplessness. Be deliberate in acknowledging and accepting your current state of being to enable the positive change to occur.  Being Present and engaged in the Now, and the steps to strengthen that state of mind, will alter your reality, enabling you to truly Choose your Fate.

For more on the psychological and sociological struggles we must navigate and overcome in the context of a gripping suspense novel take a look at Lulled By Travis N. Jensen

For more around different Choose your Fate topics, visit



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