Learned Helplessness: What It Is, How It Was Created, & What To Do

A thought on learned helplessness:

Learned helplessness is an internalized conclusion of being unable to affect or change one’s conditions or circumstances forever.

This conclusion is created by repeatedly experiencing situations that one has no power in changing. A common example: a child is unable to change the parent’s behaviors through repeated attempts to please, appease, or confront, thus concludes they are powerless to change their own conditions and carries that into adult life.

This is a form of collapse in the nervous system. “I can’t change anything. I am stuck.”

This conclusion follows the survivor into adult life as a paradigm about personal power. They identify with being powerless as a person rather than powerless in a situation.

Basically, historical powerlessness became a sense of present helplessness.

This is how we get stuck in learned helplessness.

In my healing of learned helplessness, I learned four things:

1) I was naturally powerless as a child due to circumstances, not because of who I am. As I legitimized my actual powerlessness, I started to see that my sense of helplessness was valid and logical.

2) My power and capability are circumstantial, not universal, nor personal. I will have more power and capability in some areas, and less to none in others. What matters is being able to identify and understand this and navigate it based on circumstance and need.

3) I have inherent power through my choices, actions, and my ability to learn and master new knowledge and skills. I can grow my power by growing my skills and experience. 4) As a child, I wasn’t supposed to be in charge of adults and their needs. I was supposed to be learning about my own.

My healing started with acknowledging my actual powerlessness and helplessness in the circumstances I faced and lived through. Bringing in a sense of that being real, valid, and legitimate helped me dis-identify with being inherently helpless. Instead, I see reality: I was naturally powerless over those things.

If you often feel a sense of helplessness, look to see if it is a situation that you have no real power in. This is simple to assess by asking yourself two questions:

Is there a choice or action I can take that would change the outcome?

Are my choices and actions creating or directly contributing to the outcome?

If the answer to these two questions is no, then you naturally have no power, and that is NORMAL. If the answer is yes, then you have some measure of power and can explore that and what impact you can create.

This is how you begin to deprogram from a sense of universal powerlessness and helplessness.

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