You may feel helpless at times, as I do.

It’s a distressing feeling which I absolutely despise! Yet we who have a loved one who is addicted, struggling with their mental health, or even in recovery often feel powerless and confused. The person we care about sometimes behaves in ways that are unhealthy, impulsive, short-sighted, or even dishonorable or dangerous. We cannot change them. What they say and do is out of our control. Since there may be little or nothing you can offer, you’re left feeling disempowered. Helplessness can be agonizing. I’m aware that I tend to avoid this emotion until I realize I’m trying to escape from it by doing something, overthinking, or freezing by numbing out to avoid it.

Some days you simply long for a sense of control more than anything.

What to do? Begin within. Tap into the control, goodness, and wisdom you have inside yourself.

2 Practices for Finding Control and Wisdom Within

1) Breathe Consciously

Start with your breath to immediately take back control.

How to breathe consciously: breathe in from your lower belly then fill your upper lungs and exhale fully. Become more aware of your whole-being as you take another deep inhalation, then a huge exhalation. Use whatever breathing method you prefer (Ujjayi, box-breathing, Wim Hof, etc.). Enhance your continued breathing with conscious awareness, allowing your present experience without judging yourself. Your emotions and thoughts don’t define you. They are just happening right now and will soon change.

The 6 zones of your whole-being are your heart, body, thoughts, intuition, energy, and essence. Breathe consciously into each zone, one at a time. It’s a 1-minute practice, with less than 10 seconds per zone. Inhale into your heart; notice what you’re feeling, and exhale. Breathe into your thoughts; pay attention to what you’re thinking, then let go with a big exhalation. Just be here now, with heightened awareness. Continue on, cognizant of your experience in each of the 6 zones (see my whole-being scan worksheet below).

Do this breathing for 1 to 5 minutes. Pay exquisite attention, allowing whatever is happening in your whole-being, even if you’re worried or angry. Your breath will help you reset by bringing acceptance of what is in this moment. That acceptance is powerful and soothing, enabling you to handle discomfort and even helplessness. When you arrive at the final zone — your essence — you’ll enjoy the bond and want to spend more time there.

2) Get to Know Your Deepest Self: Your Essence

Your innermost self is your essence; it’s the very core of you! It is the wellspring of everything you need to anchor, rebalance, and find some peace. Your essence is your source of control, wisdom, love, happiness, bravery, and goodness. It is who you have been before birth, your constant throughout this life, and who you will be after death, beyond the body-container in which you reside now. Get to know your soulful essence by spending time with you: go deep inside while breathing with love for yourSelf. When you focus on connecting with your self, your truest essence, you become intimately aware of this center, this internal hub. It contains inexhaustible, constant compassion and wisdom and will help you find the answers you long for. Uniting with it, you’ll root down and sense control.

To do this, breathe into the place you feel your essence resides. You may want to place your hands on your heart and solar plexus as you do this. Allow a slight smile on your lips. Breathe even more consciously into your essence. There you’ll find solidity, clarity, strength, bravery to move forward, resilience, and even answers. Gradually, you’ll discover your own inner wisdom. Once you do, you can put insight into action with greater confidence. Do this practice of breathing into your essence regularly, every day, with commitment and self-empathy. Over time, you’ll learn to flow with stress like a wave instead of reacting to the helplessness you feel as if you’re up against a wall, stuck, or immobilized by fear. You’ll become more flexible, persevering, and adaptable. You may not be able to directly help your loved one, but you can help yourself feel better. Remember: you can take a moment like this one to connect with your essence anytime, anyplace.

Find Control in Your Essence

These practices of loving self-care help you find control. The capacity to breathe consciously, connecting with your essence regularly is right here inside of you. Your soulful essence doesn’t have highs and lows, it is even-keeled and not afraid of change — that fear comes from the mind and old patterns. You’ll experience a calming stillness, but even more you’ll be anchored in your whole-being, in yourSELF. Listen to your essence with your entire body. Hear its calming self-control in your heart and mind, allowing your feelings and thoughts to change as you experience a shift toward greater equilibrium. You’re still allowing what’s happening, not denying any feelings or thoughts. It’s simply that they are no longer the boss of you. You are powered by your essence.

Take Time for Conscious Breathing and Tapping into Your Essence

Diligently taking little breaks in your day to make time for these two simple practices of self-care. It is absolutely necessary because your loved one’s life can be chaotic, unpredictable, painful, traumatized, or immobilized, and can spill over into yours unless you are grounded in your breath and your unwavering essence.

By consciously caring for yourself in these two ways, you recenter and can make better choices on behalf of your beloved. Conscious caring is empowering! It starts with caring for you, with conscious attention. You feel less helpless and more grounded. Practice these two things daily as needed, and you’ll readily experience some of the control you long for. You’ll be able to approach the person you care about with a greater sense of stability, helping both yourself and them.

Begin within. Breathe consciously into control.