8 Ways to Make Yourself Helpless


I find it sad how many people I encounter that have surrendered all control over their future and are angrily waiting for someone to change the world to their liking. Some try to speed up the process by bullying. Others simply wallow in their despair, whining to anyone that will listen.Despressed Girl

I see this acceptance of a powerless fate in business, careers, relationships and life. While there are people who have had genuine hardship, many that have decided to be helpless have created most of their hardships. And continue to create their own problems.

In their anger or anguish, many genuinely believe all of their circumstances are the fault of others. This feeds their feelings of helplessness. After all, if your problems are not your fault and you have not power to improve your situation, then you’re off the hook. There is nothing you can do to make the situation better.

Children tend to be very optimistic, even in dire circumstances. So how did the helpless adults develop a vision of unrealistic helplessness? I think there are many reasons. Interestingly, I think for many it was a choice that led to a path that is difficult to reverse or changes. Once in a difficult situation, there are two choices. Accept it or change it.

Do you create your own vision of helplessness? Or does someone you know do this? See if you do any of these eight things to create a helpless feeling.

8 Ways to Make Yourself Helpless

1.  Whine and complain. When you say a message enough, it reinforces what you believe. You are selling it to not only others but to yourself. As a bonus, you’ll repel those that could help you.

2.  Focus on what you can’t do. By ignoring what is possible, it becomes virtually impossible, even if simply out of neglect.

3.  Spend your time with other helpless people. Misery not only loves company, it loves to feel validated. Without the bothersome people that think you can do more for yourself, you’ll be all set to futher reinforce your helplessness.

4.  Discount the positives. Even if something is good, spend your time only looking at what is wrong about it.

5.  Avoid effort and initiative. Work typically pays off in some way, even if it is hidden at first. But by avoiding work, you can remain at the mercy of others.

6.  Be (and stay) angry. Most people that are not helpless can tolerate some bad attitudes from others for awhile. But eventually, that tolerance wears off when they see their support does no good and is a wasted effort. Anger drives away those that can help.

7.  Demand that others resolve your problems. If you will focus on looking for “hand outs” instead of a hand up, others will realize that you are resolved to be helpless. When they discover you are in need of help likely by choice and not circumstance, they will often distance themselves from you.

8.  Manipulate others. Use guilt, lies, and pleas of desperation as your sole source of making your way in this world. When it fails to work on someone, quickly move to others that have yet to see your methods (remembering to blame the last people that helped you but stopped).

If you’ll notice, most of these ways to become helpless are about how you communicate with others and yourself. And it is true. We become what we focus on and we believe what we choose to believe. For all but the most misfortunate people, being helpless is an action. So is choosing to help yourself.


Glenn S. Phillips is the author of Nerd-to-English: Your Everyday Guide to Translating Your Business, Your Messages, and Yourself. His website, www.nerdtoenglish.com, will lead you to more information about effective communication training, risk assessments and genuinely helpful tips. You can email Glenn directly at glennsphillips@nerdtoenglish.com.

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About the Author

Glenn S. Phillips works with leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. An author and blogger, Glenn is often quoted in national media, plays a really ugly tuba (it even has a bullet hole) and is a fan of dark chocolate and great puns.