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holding-hands-showing-care-guesthouseLearned helplessness occurs when an individual faces “…repeated exposure to uncontrollable stressors” (APA Dictionary of Psychology). When this results in the individual not exerting any control even when options for control become available, learned helplessness is the result. If people are faced with insurmountable obstacles in one instance, and this happens often enough, this can diminish their motivation to try to make changes in other situations.

Learned helplessness is something that many individuals suffering from addiction need to overcome. For example, if someone is trying to quit smoking cigarettes and repeatedly fails, they could become frustrated. The smoker may believe that nothing they do will help them quit, and they may stop trying altogether. This feeling of loss of control essentially elicits a passive response to the harmful situation.

Overcoming Learned Helplessness

Overcoming learned helplessness may look slightly different for everyone because everyone is facing unique challenges. Typically this thought process manifests as a lack of self-esteem, low motivation and persistence, the feeling of being inept, and failure. Those who have faced repeated trauma are very likely to develop learned helplessness.

To help fight this thought process, you can work on building up self-worth and self-compassion. Try engaging in activities that restore self-control. When you learn how much control you have, it can help you focus on your goals and realize how obtainable they are. Therapy may be beneficial as well. Counseling can help you learn what your helplessness stems from and help you work through any past trauma.

Develop a Support Group

Seek out individuals who build up your confidence and surround you with positivity. These may be friends, family members, colleagues, or mental health professionals. We all face challenges, and sometimes we need gentle reminders of how great we are doing. When we feel supported and confident about ourselves, we can keep pushing forward even when facing setbacks and challenges. We can also trust these individuals to let us know if our thought processes seem a little off or to encourage us if we start to feel a little helpless in our journey.

Learned helplessness occurs when an individual faces a negative situation beyond their control and stops trying to make changes in other situations when they do have some control.  Remembering the power of our thought process is important as we journey through the recovery process. Learned helplessness can stop personal growth and keep us participating in dangerous or unhealthy activities because we feel we cannot break free. It can be hard to change the way we approach a situation and our learned thought process. The professionals here at The Guest House are ready to help you heal and work through your recovery. Call us today to learn more about our treatment options at (855) 438-7800.