The Feeling of Powerlessness

Being diagnosed with a medical illness. Having your house destroyed by a Hurricane. Being in an abusive relationship. Being down 10 points with 1 minute left. Having to discharge a patient to a shelter. Being homeless. Losing a parent or child. Watching children get murdered.

I use these examples not to compare them, but to illustrate a deep, common, helpless feeling that can be experienced at one point in life or another.

However, it is precisely at this moment that you can actually be the most powerful. It is at this moment that you can choose to focus your attitude on making the best, most helpful decision you can make. Everyone likes a good comeback story, because everyone has come back from something devastating (at least seemingly so) at one point or another.

You can choose to eat healthier. You can choose to look into social work services. You can call a crisis line. You can slow the game down and take it one play at a time. You can call your supervisors and advocate. You can talk to someone. You can vote.

I am not saying it is easy to overcome the feeling of powerlessness. But I am saying, that those that recognize it, and learn to overcome it, have done it by taking it one moment, and one decision at a time.

The person that went into cancer remission after changing their diet. The survivors of trauma that become leaders and inspirations in their communities. Angelina Jolie. Lady Gaga. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Tyler Perry. Oprah. Reggie Miller versus the Knicks in 1995. The Miracle at the Meadowlands. The 2018 elections.

I am not saying that getting back up is easy. I am not even saying that things will ever be normal again. I am just saying that at that this moment, I have to make the best decision I can to improve my situation, and live to fight another day. To give time for the cavalry to arrive.

In order to overcome the feeling of powerlessness, I have to find a way to focus on the moment and what I can control. If I can be powerful now, I can always be powerful, and this was the most powerful decision I’ve ever made.



Yu-Heng Guo, MD

November 3rd, 2018. Prior to the 2018 elections.


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