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On Feeling Helpless

November 11, 2016

Wednesday was…tough. I felt a lot of feelings, but the most difficult was the helplessness I felt for myself and those that I love. I felt helpless for non-white people, people with disabilities, people who are gay, people who have immigrated here, people who aren’t members of the first class. I felt helpless for my future, and although our futures are always uncertain, truly started to feel the weight of what that means.

It’s important to find the balance between being with your feelings, and wallowing in them. I took time to be in my body, to feel where my feelings were concentrated (my chest, parts of my limbs, my stomach), and to breathe into the moment. But at some point it wasn’t helpful for me to continually refresh social media and news sites; what was I gaining from it?

And so although I cannot offer any resolutions to the predicament we face in the next four years (and by this I mean the threat of losing women’s reproductive rights, revoking gay marriage, leaning into xenophobic policies, and other policies that threaten to move us back into the 1930’s), these are small ways to offer yourself comfort and light.

Here are some ideas to ease your difficult feelings:

  • Feel them. Our thoughts are huge and scary and relentless, but our feelings won’t kill us. You may be surprised at what you find when you tune into your feelings, and your ability to ease some of your tension yourself. Here’s a resource to help you get started.
  • Make a gratitude list. Like, right now. Not for the things you think you should be grateful for, but the things you actually are grateful for. Gratitude is an incredible force, I wrote a post on how to feel grateful instead of guilty, which you can read here. Examples of my recent gratitude list items are: moving without pain in my body, moments of laughter, when I rinse all the shampoo out of my hair, the second verse in “Men of Snow” by Ingrid Michaelson. It isn’t about the items themselves, it’s about the state they put you in when you appreciate them.
  • Make something better. As a designer and general creative, I’ve always had the tendency to make things look ‘pretty’. Whether it’s rearranging items on our shelves, or cleaning up a pile of papers, improving the look of something gives me instant gratification. Go organize your bookshelves, or file away the stack of papers on your desk. This is also true for small acts of kindness. Go out of your way to throw away something someone littered on your way into the grocery store. Let someone go ahead of you in line. These small acts can break the negative cycle in your head.
  • Surround yourself with love; show some love. Do you have a companion that fills you up? Maybe a spouse or pet? A best friend or favorite song? Go be with them, focus on them. Do something kind for them. Show love to a stranger by complimenting them or offering a warm anecdote. Once an older man joked with me in the parking lot about forgetting where he parked. It was simple and over in a flash, but the connection was enough. He’s probably forgotten about the interaction, but I haven’t. You can be that person for others.
  • Indulge yourself. Go buy the fancy latte you love, or wear your favorite sweater three days in a row. Window shop on your favorite street. Give yourself an uninterrupted hour for a bath, or video games, or whatever your thing is.
  • Help someone out. There are lots of sites that help people campaign to raise money for myriad causes. Even $5 donations are valuable. Find something you believe in (Planned Parenthood, for example), or people you’d like to help, and give a little bit. BC’s co-workers recently shared a link to a Go-Fund-Me page for a father of two that recently lost his wife; I couldn’t give a ton, but I was able to help a little bit. And we all know little bits add up to big things.

Additionally, here are some news articles that highlight something a little lighter:

And friends, after you let yourself feel your difficult feelings, and ease yourself a little, it’s time to get back to business. Because we are facing real issues that will require real determination and work to solve. We’re tasked with the difficult job of finding a way to keep our hearts open and navigate to a better future for everyone. We have to continue to fight for a voice for the minorities and issues that are so often silenced and torn down. So after a few days, when you feel up to it, here are some resources to help us get started:

signoffWith love and warmth to ALL Americans, 


P.S Today is Veteran’s Day! Brooks and I had the honor of recently attending an event celebrating WWII Vets (including BC’s grandpa), and there is nothing like hearing their stories and experiencing their humbleness. Thank you to all our Veterans who serve and have served our country. ⭐️????????❤️

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