Capable: Overcoming Learned Helplessness
I can’t jog.
If I had a Native American name, it would mean “Runs Like a Fat Antelope.”
I just have an aversion for running. As far as we can tell, Jesus never ran anywhere.
And Solomon said, “The wicked run when no one pursues” (Proverbs 28:1).
As so goes my reasoning; rationalization covers a multitude of sins.
A friend of mine, Michael, a PhD candidate, once challenged my thinking on this. He was working on a book about overcoming “learned helplessness” – in our culture, as a nation, in the church, and as individuals.
As he was describing what he had in mind, it felt like I was being tazered. All of my well-honed excuses started crumbling in front of me.
Here’s how Michael might challenge my thoughts on jogging.
“Doug, are you incapable of running?”
To which I’d have to answer, “No” …
I could get one of those “Couch to 5K” apps and do the program, start walking, and go a little further each day, get on a treadmill, etc.
What I tell myself I can’t do, in reality, I’m usually capable of doing.
I don’t think this problem is limited to me. I know so many people who hate their jobs, but believe that they can’t do anything else. Others are caught up in bad habits that they tell themselves they can’t shake. A few of my friends have made themselves financially dependent on people who, in turn, treat them like obligated servants.
So I’m getting into the habit of asking myself,
“Am I truly incapable of doing “A,” “B,” or “C”?
If the answer is “no,” then maybe it’s time to get off the couch.
Schmidt Happens …
Reflection Questions …
Finish the following sentence … “I just can’t [blank].”
Are you truly incapable of doing [blank]? If not, is it time put together a plan of action? Explain.