Do you ever feel like every time you try to succeed you’re constantly met with failure? That after trying and trying, it just makes more sense to give up?
If you’re someone that’s constantly facing negative situations that you feel are out of your hands… maybe you’re getting rejected a lot, maybe you’re failing at school, maybe you don’t know what you want to do with your life. It’s easy to start to feel like it just makes more sense to give up.
This is what’s called “learned helplessness”. The term was coined in 1967 by two American psychologists.
If you’re someone that’s experiencing learned helplessness even when you have the opportunity to change your outcome or your situation you still feel like there’s no opportunity there, you might feel like you’ve been burned so much that it just doesn’t make sense to even try.
And this is something that commonly happens with people that are dealing with major stress and failure in their life. They start to kind of accept defeat and start to move away from the idea of trying to succeed. Plus, this can lead to major depression, anxiety, and hopelessness about life.
For some people (maybe even you) you might feel like this is just your way of life. You’re too ugly, you’re not smart enough, you’re not tall enough or good looking. Maybe you’re never going to succeed because you don’t really know what you want to do in the future or you don’t have a lot of friends.
All these different factors can paint this picture of learned helplessness. Learned helplessness is one side of the coin though while the other side ends up being “learned optimism”.
Learned optimism is the idea of recognizing that there are small steps that you can take to make little changes in your life that can have a marginal improvement.
Everything is small steps
Growth really only happens when we step outside of our comfort zone. When we’re willing to challenge what we already know and recognize that there are things that maybe we can improve, things we can change, things that we didn’t know before.
Let’s say for example you’re constantly getting rejected and when you ask those people why they all tell you the same thing.
“Yeah, it’s because you’re too short.”
If it happens enough times you might just determine that’s it, I’m undateable. No one is ever going to like me because of my height. And what you’re doing there is accepting the learn helplessness.
You’re assuming that every single person you’re ever going to encounter is now going to judge you based on your height. That’s the number one quality and factor they’re looking for so, why even bother trying?
But, if we take a learned optimism approach you might then tell yourself:
You know, what other factors and qualities do I bring to the table and how can I put that front and center and look for a person that actually sees those qualities as more important than height?
And I know, the black pill perspective sometimes kicks in and makes you feel like well, statistics are not on your side so finding that person is going to be incredibly rare.
But, what are the small steps you can take in that situation?
If your focus is only on the qualities that you lack, you’re not really highlighting and trying to grow the qualities that you actually do have. It’s this type of stepping outside of your comfort zone and telling yourself:
“you know what it’s worth a shot, I’ll try”
rather than saying things like
“I’ve already tried it. It doesn’t work. It’s a waste of time. It’s not for me.”
I’m not saying it’s easy to just change your perspective and all of a sudden everything works out and you’re no longer worried or thinking about that thing. Sometimes it does take patience, time, and actual help from a therapist or a counselor.
I would highly recommend a service like BetterHelp.com (affiliate link) which has licensed therapists that are certified by their state boards to provide therapy and counseling.
It’s available worldwide, you just access the website go online and talk to someone. You can do it through your phone, through your tablet, through your computer, whatever is most convenient for you. I’ve tried BetterHelp myself and I think it’s a phenomenal resource.
The cost of a session is usually $65 to $85 per week but financial aid is available so if you’re someone that’s a student right now and you can’t really swing that price, don’t worry. There’s still hope to speak to someone so just go to the website and look for their financial aid offerings.
They have weekly group sessions where you can work with licensed therapists on a range of different topics like relationships, anxiety, depression, and more.
Plus, whatever it is you want to talk about is completely private. It’s strictly between you and your therapist.
The power of resilience
If you could start to make that transition from learned helplessness to learned optimism, you’re going to start to build what’s called resilience. To be resilient is to recognize that life will always throw you obstacles. There will always be challenges and there will always be hardships.
Every single day that you are here is another opportunity for you to take that small step towards what you want to accomplish. I’m not saying you’re going to reach all your goals and everything is going to magically work out. No, life is tough. But it’s not worth giving up on.
So choose that path of learned optimism if you can. Work with someone that can help you. Recognize that you have what it takes to be somebody great and don’t lose hope.
On that note, I’ll catch you next time.
As always love and peace.