How To Overcome Learned Helplessness …Before It Leads To Depression
Many people begin to feel helpless when their efforts to make change and accomplish goals fail …and it seems there are no options left. This results in feelings of helplessness.
Feeling helpless like this is often one of the root causes of depression so understanding how these feelings of helplessness develop can help you to avoid them …and hence avoid depression.
Here are a few of the main reasons how feelings of helplessness can develop:
- A Negative Internal Dialogue: When someone begins to have persistent thoughts such as “I am a failure” or “Life is unfair” they will begin to see everything through these lenses. No matter what situation they are in they are constantly having an internal conversation that tells them things are hopeless and there is nothing they can do.
- Lack Of Control: When our actions have a direct effect on outcomes in our lives we do not typically feel helpless. When a sports player doesn’t practice and does badly in a tournament …they don’t feel helpless in that result. However, when a sports player works hard but continues to struggle in tournaments …feelings of helplessness can begin creep in.
- Lack Of Skills And Abilities: Someone with a wide arsenal of skills and abilities can seem unstoppable, especially in this modern age where situations often change quickly. Solely developing one skill or set of skills means that all too often you will face problems that leave you feeling powerless.
- A Learned Habit: Feeling helpless can be a habit that is acquired over time. While no one is born feeling helpless they can acquire this feeling over time by reacting to challenges and difficulties by giving up easily and blaming external factors. This then becomes a habit for the person who can find it difficult to get out of.
- The Influence Of Others: A lot of people are surrounded by negative and reactive people and don’t even realize it. Over time they absorb the constant pessimism and passive negativity from their peers.
How To Overcome Helplessness
As you can see, there are many reasons people feel helpless. Therefore, to overcome helplessness it is important that you find out the SPECIFIC root causes of your particular feelings.
I can’t tell you what they are. You need to analyze this for yourself.
If you are unsure though, here are some methods (which directly relate to the above points) that can help you:
- Identify (And Change) False Beliefs: Negative internal beliefs can impose a limit on what we believe we can do. Learn to identify what beliefs are holding you back and then change it to tap into (and expand) your potential.
- Take Control: You must make sure to establish a stronger sense of control in your life. Developing your long-term planning skills, learning to focus through meditation, and even just organizing your home and workspace better can make a significant difference.
- Learn New Skills: Too many people focus on simply acquiring the bare minimum of skills to achieve what they need. When the situation changes they find themselves helpless to deal with new circumstances and still achieve success. Life is full of opportunities to learn new skills and further develop old ones. Take on new responsibilities at work, stretch yourself to accomplish new things socially, and always be willing to learn from others. When you find yourself in an unexpected situation you will have a much larger toolbox to draw from for a solution.
- Choose Your Friends Carefully: Finally, while much easier said than done, you should choose the people you hang around with carefully. This is because the influence of your friends and peers on you can be quiet strong. Being surrounded by people who repeat negative mantras like, “Life isn’t fair” and radiate hopelessness will certainly have a negative effect on you.
Taking action on one or more of these points should help you to begin feeling less helpless …even if you are not sure where your specific feelings of helplessness are stemming from.