Have you ever heard of “learned helplessness”? It’s more common than we think it is

The COVID-19 pandemic has generated in many people the feeling that everything is out of control, that it cannot be avoided or overcome, also believing that it is something we deserve. Many of these sensations surfaced in people in the face of confinement, isolation and protection measures so as not to get sick. Most of us inform ourselves about what we should do, how to take care of ourselves, and adjust our activities to the new reality.

Some people cannot make these adaptations and remain paralyzed, unable to react to the situation that has arisen. This situation is known as learned helplessness, it is a term that was coined by Dr. Selligman (you can read about it at https://positivepsychology.com/learned-helplessness-seligman-theory-depression-cure/), which describes that inability to face a certain situation.

For many people these might feel like completely new sensations that they have possibly never felt before, but after 18 months of pandemic they’ve been experimented them for a long period. 

Can you imagine a person who has spent a lifetime facing situations to which they cannot defend themselves or react?

Many of the entrepreneurs who are part of the Women’s Empowerment Project (you can read more about it at https://www.programavelasco.org/en/programs/women-s-empowerment/)live those sensations every day. Feeling that the situations they live daily cannot be avoided, that there is nothing to do, on many occasions they even think that they cannot tell what happens to them, it’s a psychological pressure “to believe that the situation cannot be changed” and that for that reason it is not worth sharing it.

Each workshop they attend is an opportunity to discover that all these sensations can be modified, that they can unlearn. 

How does this happen?

It is through sharing their experiences with other entrepreneurs, learning to listen to how their voice sounds in the group, creating a safe space, where it is not judged or censored.

Many entrepreneurs are surprised to be in these activities, they find it difficult to believe that they can change and it is understandable, it is a process that takes time.

Little by little they discover that it is possible to take control, take advantage of opportunities and decide how they want to live their life.

They begin to understand that although there are things that they cannot change, it is possible to modify how they see them and how it affects them. They understand that having them their power is in the decisions they make, there they begin to leave behind the helplessness they have learned.

If you know a person who is experiencing learned helplessness, talk to them and comment that there is good news that these feelings can be unlearned.

We also invite you to support the Women’s Empowerment Project so that more Salvadoran women entrepreneurs discover that they can face the situations that life presents to them.

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