On helplessness and sufficiency
We’ve all been there. We are humans. I am talking about the moment when the air does not seem to be enough: your mind generates a thousand and one thoughts and ideas at a time, but none seems to be useful and at the same time, paradoxical as it may seem, you feel that you have no head. You stop hearing the world around you, what you thinked as normal a few minutes ago, suddenly became inexplicable, almost unbearable. Maybe there’s crying. You probably want to scream and maybe you can not find a single note in your throat. It is a moment in which everything, absolutely everything, feels overwhelming and the world suffocates you with its purpose enormity. And while it lasts, it seems to be eternal. Being there it is as if the good cease to exist and you only find darkness, tunnels and walls that become smaller and smaller, more closed, darker. Therefore, you feel insecurity, fear, despair, anguish, no options… you are in helplessness.
What is helplessness?
This is how I personally experience helplessness. Your experience can be similar or maybe not. However, I want to think this would mean something to you. Michael Blumenstein defined the helplessness as one’s standing in a room with walls without windows, low ceiling and no option ahead. It seems to me rather like a hallway, rather than a room. A long corridor that ends in a wall. The longer (large? strong? intense? I’m not sure about the right word to name it) is the helplessness, the longer the hallway.
As I said at the beginning of this article, you’ve probably been there in more than a moment. Our actual education does not necessarily include a lesson in what to do in these events. Personally, I think there is no way for someone to live their lives without being helpless, at least a few times over the years.
I dare to declare helplessness is part of life. That is the bad news, the good thing is that it also exists (like everything in life) its counterpart and is called sufficiency.
Sufficiency, in Michael’s words, is to be inside that room he was talking about and realize that behind you there is no wall. In my example of the corridor, it would be to turn around and realize that there is light on the other side. Sufficiency is something intrinsic to every human being, nobody gives it to you, and therefore no one can take it away from you.
It’s definitely not something you learn, it’s something you already have inside you. Nor is it something that is practiced, is an attribute integrated already into each one of us. So sufficiency is always there, it is always part of us. I understand it as a place, a state from which one can get in or out. It is not that sufficiency moved itself, it is us whom forget how to stay in it. Not that it disappears, is that you close your eyes and stop seeing it.
Sufficiency is a whole state, that is to say, mind, body and heart included, in which you have the absolute certainty that you can bear with life. It is a deep and serene breathing, calmness within chaos, inner certainty in the face of any uncertainty, the faith that life I was given for is proof enough that I will survive any situation that occurs during my life until the day that I should die.
How long does it take for us to resume sufficiency?
The trick is in the movement we make between these two extremes. If the helplessness is a three walls room and all we need is to turn around, the practice is how soon we realize how easy it is to take that turn of the road. If helplessness is a long hallway and sufficiency is the light behind us, the challenge is how many steps we take in the opposite direction of light, that is to say, how long we spend in helplessness before we remember our sufficiency.
How do you do that practice? How do you manage to take that turn, take fewer and fewer steps along the aisle? There is no recipe. I suspect the answer is different and unique for each of us. What is good for me is to wait, look for a corner that feels safe, alone. Sometimes it’s my bed, sometimes it’s the arms of my husband or my mom, sometimes my best friend’s shoulder, sometimes a bath. Dealing with a second at a time, until the idea that after this instant come another twenty become tolerable and stay there until the idea of thousands of seconds more becomes manageable.
Listening to my breathing without trying to control it, just knowing it will continues there, the air will goes coming in and out and my body continues to work despite me. I embrace a blanket and feel warm. And I tell to myself as often and as strong as I can “You can do something, you can always do something” although at first my own voice sounds insecure, although I know I do not believe it, I keep lying until eventually strength and security come back to that inner voice and then I can believe myself and feel confident again that I am enough, that regardless of what I have or lack, as I am and I am in this second of existence, I have options.
Perhaps the most important thing I can write about this concept, was already said it by Michael:
“Like it or not, remember it or not, whether you feel it or not, believe it or not, you’re enough”.
Even to handle any helplessness.