Learned Helplessness

Are there times you feel just helpless, even though you know you are not?  It may take a little time before you can get yourself out of the stuck feeling.  For many people this is a normal feeling to experience from time to time, for others, it can be an ongoing, debilitating feeling that can take days, weeks, months or years to alleviate or change.

Learned helplessness can happen to anyone and is most commonly influenced by the family environment.  This post is not about blame, it’s about trying to understand our feelings, emotions and behaviors, and to learn about our lives.  We learn most things from our family of origin, whoever may have raised us, our siblings, and extended family members.  Again this all happens because that is how it took place and the family did what they could from what they knew at the time.  In addition, some parents have had there own personal problems that influenced the way they parented their children.

Life is complicated and it is like a puzzle, taking one piece at a time and trying to look at it, wonder about it and figure out how and why things happened the way they did.  From this point, people often say, ‘well now I’m an adult, things shouldn’t bother me now.’  It sounds good and logical but it is complicated because as much as we want to leave some of the past behind us, it is with us.  We actually internal much of what we experience, the emotional and physical together.  That’s why it can take time to change things, we have to work on them and practice to take new steps, over and over until it solidifies.

Think about it, when you work a puzzle, do you always get the piece in the right spot first try?  Sometimes, but many times we have to study the puzzle, and the pieces, and come back to it over and over again until it fits together.  Life is like that too, it always takes work, emotional work, psychological work, to make the pieces come together or to change it.   If our parents felt helpless, and did not have the resources, support, determination, and motivation to do something about their problems, or were not ready to face their problems, then this learned helplessness can be passed on to us, unintentionally.