Overcoming a Sense of Learned Helplessness

squirrel climbing on a branch

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you were convinced that you weren’t capable of doing something, only to find that – when push came to shove – you actually were?

In psychology, the term “learned helplessness” is used to describe a situation where – often due to repeated failures and disappointments in the past – an individual ends up becoming passive and developing a sense of helplessness, even with regards to situations where they could directly intervene and change things.

Learned helplessness is potentially devastating – and unfortunately it’s quite common.

Here are just a few tips that might help you to successfully start overcoming a sense of learned helplessness in your life.

Tackle some task that you’ve been daunted by and have been putting off for awhile

The most direct and effective way of taking steps to overcome learned helplessness in your life, is to go out of your way to tackle some task that you’ve been daunted by for a while, and have been consistently putting off.

That might mean looking into Driving Test Cancellations and booking yourself in for your driving test, or it might mean asking someone out on a date, signing up for a fitness class at the gym, or applying for a new job.

Whenever you confront your perceived boundaries and push against them, you open up the possibility that you will break through them completely, and will begin to change your sense of your own limitations.

What’s more, the more you practice doing things that you find daunting, the more this will become a habit, and you’ll become less likely over time to let yourself be held back by that sense of doubt.

Find practices and activities that can help you to step back from your thoughts

A big part of what keeps a sense of learned helplessness in place is likely to be your own habitual thought processes, and the little voice that’s commonly known as “self talk,” and which is often pretty negative and undermining.

Finding practices and activities that you can engage in on a regular basis that can help you to take a step back from your thoughts, and to be more present in the moment, can be a very powerful way of helping to make yourself less susceptible to your own doubts and perceived limitations.

This might mean taking up a meditation practice, beginning a new fitness routine, or any number of other things.

Look for ways to be proactive in everyday life

Learned helplessness directly feeds passivity and inaction, and passivity and inaction work to reinforce the sense of learned helplessness.

One important thing to do in order to try and break this loop and boost your sense of wellbeing, is to seek out ways to be more proactive in everyday life as a whole.

That could mean anything from trying your hand at painting, to looking for opportunities to get out on a regular basis even if you’re not completely in the mood for it.

When it comes to moving past learned helplessness, one of the worst things you can do is to be passive and inactive.


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