Learned helplessness

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Helplessness has a few sides to it. There is a “cuteness” to it. We’ll say things like, “Oh look at that poor dog, he looks so helpless.” In those situations, you’re almost compelled to act to help out. There is the side of economic and social loss where someone loses their ability to survive and are left to fend for themselves on the street. In those situations, we ARE compelled to do something. The Bible is clear and redundant. Proverbs 14:31 says, “Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.”

I’ll address our personal response to the disenfranchised and forgotten in another blogpost. But for this journal entry, I call your attention to another side to helplessness. It is called a “learned helplessness.” According to medicalnewstoday.comLearned helplessness is a state that occurs after a person has experienced a stressful situation repeatedly. They come to believe that they are unable to control or change the situation, so they do not try — even when opportunities for change become available.”

So, how do you counteract that condition that many fall into today? Martin Seligman in his book “Learned Optimism” suggests that when something goes wrong, be careful how you explain it to yourself.   Don’t make it permanent, personal, or pervasive.  In other words, Recognize that you change and your situations change.  Know that it’s not always about you.  What applies to one aspect of your life, does not automatically apply to others.

Psalm 119:90 reminds us, “Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.”  God has been faithful in the past to His children and to us individually, and He will do it again.

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