How to Overcome Learned Helplessness“We humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.” – Life Recovery Step Seven

Do you feel helpless in life, as if you have no control over anything? Feel like there’s nothing you can do about addiction, dependency, or unhealthy patterns? Expect other people to do all the work for you?

If so, you may struggle with learned helplessness. What is it? The concept of learned helplessness refers to a mentality that one develops after experiencing repeated challenges and coming to believe that they have no control over their life. Therefore, they feel helpless and give up trying to make changes.

Even though we can’t change everything, there is always something we can change to work toward our healing. Helen Keller said it best, “I am only one; but still, I am one. I cannot do everything, but still, I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”

There is always individual work we must do to become—as well as to stay—sober. But unfortunately, learned helplessness makes us think things will never change, so we might not seek help. Thankfully, we can ask God for help. God said to the prophet Jeremiah, “Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come” (Jer. 33:3, New Living Translation).

To overcome a learned helplessness mentality, reflect on these 11 journal prompts:

  1. What are at least three areas of your life you have been tempted to give up on too soon?
  2. How can you practice being more diligent in the future?
  3. Think of why you quit your recovery group, seeing a counselor, or something else too soon.
  4. Is there something you can do differently next time you’re tempted to quit?
  5. Inn what ways has learned helplessness been holding you back?
  6. List several ways you can manage your feelings of helplessness in healthier ways.
  7. What are some activities you’ve participated in that have made you feel stronger?
  8. Brainstorm any excuses you’ve made lately that have hindered your recovery.
  9. Think back to the first time you felt helpless. What happened? How did it make you feel?
  10. Have you asked God to remove your shortcomings? If not, what is stopping you?
  11. Imagine what you would feel like if you were free from addiction. What would it take to get there?

If you find yourself struggling with learned helplessness, remember to ask God to remove your shortcomings. Call 800-639-5433 to find a counselor, coach, or Life Recovery Group.

by Steve Arterburn