Overcoming Feelings of Helplessness

I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
— Edward Everett Hale

Compassion is costly. To open one's heart is to allow in the pain of another's suffering, which leads to a strong desire to take away the pain. But what if the pain is too great? What if it involves people on the other side of the world? What if it includes the WHOLE world? What can one person do?

There is lots of evidence to suggest that one person can do a lot to change the world. But if you are feeling overwhelmed and helpless, start small. Here are just a few suggestions. You may want to add a few more yourself.

  • Start with yourself. "Put on your own oxygen mask first," as the flight attendants say. Attend to your own basic needs. Eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, get enough rest, find time to play, laugh, connect with friends and family, learn to be still, meditate, pray.

  • If you have inner wounds that need healing, tend to them. Find a good therapist or counselor. If you are holding grudges or resentment in your heart towards anyone, find a way to forgive. 

  • Love the one you're with. Recognize that whoever you are with at the moment has the same basic needs as you. And the most basic of our basic needs is love. 

If each one of us simply demonstrated loving kindness towards ourselves and those around us, the whole world would live in peace. Of course, if this were easy, there wouldn't be war and violence. But it may be easier than we think. 

Are you willing to be "an instrument of peace?"