Overcome Learned Helplessness to Reach Your Potential

30 January 2017

Feeling anxious, depressed, and stressed are all common symptoms of what we called learned helplessness. Megan Thompson sheds light on this common condition faced by many today.


Feeling anxious, depressed, and stressed are all common symptoms of what we called learned helplessness; a condition where we’re overwhelmed by these feelings whenever we’re faced with a challenging situation.  Luckily, there are various ways you can overcome learned helplessness and finally reach your full potential; but you’ll have to be prepared to put some work into it first. It’s definitely worth it - you’ll find your effort is repaid a million times over.

How to Recognize Learned Helplessness

A lot of folks who are in abusive relationships are prone to learned helplessness, although they’re not the only ones who experience it. It causes people to think they can’t change their circumstances, which means they make no attempt to change their situation or life path, even if they could greatly benefit from doing so. To summarise: experiencing learned helplessness means we believe that no matter what we do, we will always fail at a certain task.

How You Can Overcome Learned Helplessness

Belief in change is one of the most important things to learn if you want to start breaking the cycle of learned helplessness. That means believing you can change as a person, believing the situation you’re in can change, and believing we have the power to make the changes we need to in order to reach our potential and live a fulfilling life.

Unfortunately, our past experiences and our observations of the world can leave us feeling a little stuck and lacking in self-belief. The good news is that feelings and emotions CAN be changed - by shifting from a negative thinking pattern to a positive one, and by facing challenging situations with a new response instead of your old ‘I can’t do it’ attitude. As your feelings and emotions change, you’ll find your learned helplessness fading away.

The process looks a little something like this:

  • Learn to identify your learned helplessness by becoming aware of the behavior patterns that are keeping you stuck in a bad situation. You can also go ahead and identify any limiting beliefs (such as “I’ll never be rich enough”); that keep you from reaching your potential. If you’re finding self-awareness a struggle, consider developing a meditation practice to help you recognise your negative thoughts and patterns.
  • Find out what might be causing that immediate negative behavior (this could be a memory or past experience), and then try to envision how the outcome would change should your thoughts become positive instead of negative.
  • Now you’re ready to start using positive affirmations to change that limiting belief. Make sure that you make these affirmations positive and emotionally strong, and keep them in the present tense. Whenever you say them, try to feel them and believe them. Check out this article for more tips on using affirmations.
  • Finally, you’ll have to commit to surrounding yourself with people that support the change you’re trying to create in your life. It’s very important, especially when you first begin - encouragement and positive reinforcement will help you a lot. You can find supportive groups online or in your local area, full of people who are committed to making the same positive changes as you!

Final Thoughts

Learned helplessness is something that’s caused by limiting beliefs, which often have their roots in past experiences. And that means we all have our own personal set of limiting beliefs to overcome; and a unique journey to undertake if we want to reach our full potential. As you start to embark on this healing path and make breakthroughs, you’ll finally realize that the sky truly is the limit. All that you believe and all that you feel is ultimately what you become and what your life story pans out to be. You have the power to choose your thoughts and shape your destiny. We hope that this post has given you the tools you’ll need to start taking control, and finally tackle learned helplessness so that you can lead a happier, healthier life!

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Profile image Written by Megan Thompson

Megan is a DIY health & beauty addict. She’s committed to making her itsy-bitsy apartment chemical free and her diet as unprocessed as possible. You can find her work at Gold Mountain Beauty where she is responsible for the blog, Instagram and Pinterest.