Moving From Learned Helplessness
To Self-Confidence #124
As a supervisor and counselor, I was confident in my capabilities. I didn’t doubt every decision. But several years of caregiving, the pandemic, and Dan’s death took a toll on that confidence. If you’ve read the newsletter, you know of my struggles, fears, and doubts as I began this new chapter - so many changes, so much to learn, and so many decisions to make.
It’s been over two years since Dan died - and while I miss him as much as ever - something is changing. I’m coming out of a fog and regaining my self-confidence. I do more, know more of what I want, and can stand on my own two feet - albeit a little shaky at times.
One way of looking at it is that I am moving from a period of learned helplessness to a more affirming one of self-confidence. Let me explain!
a state that occurs after a person has experienced a stressful situation repeatedly. They believe they cannot control or change the problem, so they don’t try - even when opportunities for change become available.
For most of Dan’s last five years of life, dementia ruled. I could find no way to help him or fix the problem - fights, doubts, and less-than-successful efforts filled my life. I felt helpless. That feeling permeated every area of my life, and the situation seemed permanent. More than once, I wasn’t sure I wanted to live any longer if that was what life offered.
Self-confidence refers to firmness or strength of belief.
As a single woman, I dealt with new issues. I had to learn new skills, and as it turned out, mastering small skills began making a difference. Guess what? I could fix a clogged pipe or a computer problem. I could understand the finances and dispute a bank charge. I could walk five miles and go shopping by myself Those successes permeated other areas of my life just like the feeling of helplessness. If I managed to do them, I could do more than I thought.
So, I see myself as moving toward self-confidence - believing in myself again, overcoming the fear of doing, and regaining influence over conditions in my life.
While there are many books and articles about fear and how to resolve it, I like and am reviewing Susan Jeffers’ book. This video offers a sneak peek.
Based on her ideas, I am working on the following:
Reminding myself over and over again “I can handle it.”
Before Dan died, a bucketful of “what if’s” kept me from doing many things. After he died there was no one else. I had to. To my surprise, I could do them.
Avoid blaming myself - I was doing the best I could then.
Today, I think of other things I could have and should have done, but then, I did what I could - even more than I thought possible.
Doing it comes first, doing it better comes second.
I want to paint breathtaking landscapes. So, I read books and watched videos. That didn’t work because it is only in the act of painting over and over that I perfect my skills.
The only way to get over the fear is by doing it.
I’ve found that fear goes away only after the action is routine.
Determine what you want in life and move forward.
Now I know what I want and am choosing accordingly.
I am stronger and in a better place today. Ready to trust me and move forward. It is quite the journey.
Two articles I wanted to share
Strength Is Calling - “There is always a way to move forward, no matter how difficult things may appear to be. There is always a path to the top of the mountain, provided one has the desire to make the climb and the strength to continue on when the difficulties increase.”
Snakes on a Trail - “Positive Views on Aging Can Sharpen Your Mind and Boost Health and Happiness.
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If you want to contribute to my work, you could consider donating to the Alzheimers Association. This link takes you to their website. The choice is always yours.