Skip to main content

Unlearn To Be Helpless - Counsellor, IIT Hyderabad

" When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us. " ......Alexander Graham Bell

We all experience unpleasant situations in our life. This could be due the tight spot others put us in or we put just some unforeseen circumstances or ourselves in. In these suffocating moments, it's natural for anyone to be beleaguered by negative thoughts and emotions making us feel helpless. In most cases, people experience what psychologists' would call 'Learned Helplessness'.

'Learned Helplessness' is a term used to describe the helpless behavior we humans sometimes demonstrate in times of problems. In such situations even if there are opportunities to escape or resolve the problem some people would still choose to suffer because they have learnt to cope that way. This is called 'Learned Helplessness'. This behavior prevents them from recognizing and utilizing opportunities for their betterment. For ex: a person I know, would always cry 'poor me' when faced with any problem, yet when there were opportunities for her to do something about solving her problems she chose to behave helpless.

This sense of helplessness can arise due to various reasons like
  1. We have been taught that "time is the best healer.
  2. We may have also learnt it's alright to suffer or go through hardships. However, isn't it alright to seek help at times?
  3. We think it's always a "Do Or Die Situation"
  4. We are unprepared for unforeseen situations
But how do we deal with situations that leave us feeling helpless?
  1. Realize if helplessness is learnt, it can be unlearnt and you can relearn to help yourself.
  2. It would help if we talked with people who coped well in similar situations.
  3. Develop multiple strategies to solve your problems.
  4. Think of solutions that are out of the box and reduce your anxiety.
  5. It makes us feel better to talk to someone who listens to us patiently and understands us.
  6. To engage in physical exercise or to pen your emotions in a mail or personal dairy would help to feel lighter.
  7. Analyze the situation as it really is without exaggerating the facts beyond what they really are.
  8. Recognize and acknowledge the potential and qualities you have to come out of your problems.
  9. Recognize and acknowledge the potential others have to help you
  10. Be open to the idea that things can change only if you do something about it.
  11. For a start try to take a small step in helping yourselves. Achievement over small hurdles can boost your confidence to try and overcome greater problems.
Maria Morris
Counsellor, IIT Hyderabad
Published date : 13 Oct 2012 07:59PM

Photo Stories