I learned to be helpless but no more


Hi...come sit down for a spell

Hi...come sit down for a spell

Hi. Welcome to my front porch. I’ve given up the attic for a while in favor of cool enough mornings sitting outside while the porch is in the shade. Did you ever think about the number of people who NEVER just sit outside to relax?

I’m venting today about my lack of ability to comprehend all things mechanical, technological, chemical, or  physical. Among some people I am considered intelligent, I guess based upon my writing ability, and the fact that I am a fairly decent speller. It always amazes me when that observation is made. When it comes to anything else in the world, I view myself as a completely helpless individual…or at least I used to think that way.

When I was growing up, there were always those around me who could do things better, faster, and easier than I could. My father often made me aware of that fact. When I wanted to learn to sew, I was told, “Wait until somebody can show you. ( I heard, “You’ll break the sewing machine.”) Of course in our household there never was a time when anyone sat down with me. When I wanted to have my first party, I was told, “Wait until your sister has time to help you.” (I heard, “You’re too dumb to entertain your friends socially by yourself.) When I wanted to learn how to cook, I heard, “Wait until somebody has time to teach you.” (I heard, “You’ll only ruin the food and make a mess.” )

I got a new red bicycle for my tenth birthday. About three years later I decided the paint wasn’t bright enough any more. I completely dismantled it by myself in the garage in order to paint the fenders properly. Why I thought that had to be done, I’m not sure. Anyway, I painted the bicycle parts bright red enamel. I can’t remember how I got my hands on the paint. Then, I was stuck. I did not have a clue as to how to put it back together.

Instead of asking either of one or two mechanically inclined uncles living within yards of me to help me re-assemble it, or trying to help me himself, my father loaded the parts into the car after three days and took it to a distant cousin for her husband to reassemble for their daughter. I just said, “I can’t put it back together. Do with it what you want.” End of story. End of bicycle. Of course I cared. I just didn’t know how to say it.

I found the older I got, the more helpless I became. Because my father hired a housekeeper/child minder when I was four, and because I was frequently ill with asthma, headaches, and allergies, I was never expected to do anything for myself. My aunt would bake but only when I wasn’t around.

When you don’t do anything for yourself long enough, you learn either you don’t have to because others are better and faster at it and don’t expect you to perform, or you are not able to help yourself in the first place. It’s called learned helplessness. I found three very interesting articles about this topic you might want to investigate if you feel the same way.

http://www.noogenesis.com/malama/discouragement/helplessness.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learned_helplessness 

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.marcossalazar.com/images/2008/09/29/depression.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.marcossalazar.com/2008/09/post-college–1.html&usg=__4XND2SFXpPKDTQ-nnCmNtGP89e0=&h=269&w=200&sz=48&hl=en&start=99&sig2=l6erPUmBmSZZvd0lE6SFMg&um=1&tbnid=r74EJ1MMQum7fM:&tbnh=113&tbnw=84&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dlearned%2Bhelplessness%26ndsp%3D20%26hl%3Den%26rls%3Dcom.microsoft:en-us:IE-SearchBox%26rlz%3D1I7GCNV_en%26sa%3DN%26start%3D80%26um%3D1&ei=CM2KStmmGYe6tAOev-XUDQ

I apologize for all the long links. I’m still trying to learn how to hyperlink.

Learned helplessness can be a large part of depression

Learned helplessness can be a large part of depression

I now have realized this “learned helplessness” was my main reason for not making it through nursing school. I was like the dog in the article. I had been shocked too many times with no way to control the situation. I had no confidence in myself. There was no such thing as self-esteem on my horizon. I can identify with the person in the above picture. Although I would cover myself, I have been in this state many times in my past. My favorite fetal position.

I have come a long way in my thinking of my abilities since joining the church that I now attend. The church has five principles. Two of which apply to this blog. 

  1. We are co-creators with God, creating reality through thoughts held in mind.

Now I’ve had trouble accepting this principle. One of the criticisms of this principle by fundamentalists is that we DARE to put ourselves on the same level as GOD. How can we be so bold as to think so highly of ourselves? I can actually have some control over reality just by the way I think? I didn’t think so.

I found an article which really makes sense to me. This is an excerpt:

It is of considerable significance that, in the middle of this description in Psalms 104 of the working, creating God, there is a reference to human labor. Verse 23 reads, “Man goes forth to his work and to his labor until the evening ” (RSV). The Bible suggests that human labor must be seen as part of God’s ongoing creative activity. By our work, we become co-creators with God!

This is an essential part of what it means to be truly human.Whether we are a marketing person for a computer services company, a lab technician, a production manager for a biochemical firm, a homemaker, a weatherman, a school teacher, or a doctor, in our work we are co-creating with God. We are contributing to God’s continuing work of sustaining creation. This gives our work tremendous significance in God’s sight. 

http://www.urbana.org/whole-life-stewardship-reflections/the-significance-of-our-work

The second principle which I have discovered to be life changing is this:

      2.  Through thoughts, words and actions, we live in the truth we know.

In my book discussion group we have been studying two books of Eckhart Tolle. The first one was The Power of Now and the one we are reading now is the same one Oprah discussed  with him, A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. They are not easy at first to understand but when it starts to sink in, what he says really has the capability of changing how I view myself in the world. All I have is right now, in the present. I can do nothing about the past. I no longer have to hold onto the beliefs which have previously shaped me into what I am today. I am a capable, loving, sharing person who has strong beliefs in what is right and not right for me. I can stand up for myself and do for myself. If I don’t succeed the first time, I do not have to call myself stupid. I just have to want to try again, if that is what I choose. That is MY truth. I am capable of doing many things I never used to believe of myself.

Oh, what brought about this topic? I have a three handset V Tech 5.8 GHz digital answering system. The first one I bought started acting crazy after several months so I took it back to the store and got a new replacement set. Now this one, a year later, is performing in the same way. I can’t make or receive calls because I get the message that another handset is on or I am out of range when I am within two feet. After checking and rechecking and switching and reswitching handsets and letting the darn things rest, at least the one on my desk is now functioning again. I am expecting some important phone calls and I think I can leave and the answering machine will work. As to the other two handsets, the message still says another handset is on or I’m out of range. The WILL NOT let me connect to the world.  I am not helpless in solving this problem. After talking with my neighbor, her relative experiences the same thing. The darn things won’t hang up properly.

What does this have to do with my blog? I can tell you. I can fix the problem. I can’t return them to Circuit City like I did the first time, but I can throw the suckers into the recycling bin at Goodwill down the street. I have confidence in myself that I can resolve this problem. I am learning not to be helpless…so help me GOD! Tomorrow IS another day, Rhett. I can survive!  Namaste` Attic Annie

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