Overcoming Learned Helplessness: Learned Optimism

Learned Helplessness: Giving Up in the Face of Difficulty
•    Seeing failure as evidence of worthlessness
•    Feeling overwhelmed and shutting down
•    Increase stress leads to avoidance
•    Losing motivation in the face of obstacles
•    Blaming yourself when things go wrong
•    Devaluing accomplishments and attributes

Learned Optimism: Persistence in the Face of Difficulty
•    Focusing on strengths
•    Using stress to push towards goals
•    Working harder to find a solution
•    Seeing failure as part of life
•    Maintaining motivation to overcome obstacles
•    Giving self-credit for attributes and accomplishments

At first it can be difficult to do a complete change of mindset; as with everything, it takes time and practice. Tune in to your thoughts and feelings and look for opportunities to change your perspective. What are barriers that hold you back? Brainstorm ways to apply small steps throughout the day. Be mindful of when helpless thoughts enter your mind, take time to breathe, and change that thought into and optimistic thought. For example, with schoolwork, it is easy to think something like “I did a terrible job on that group project”; change that to an optimistic thought “I am a valuable group member”. Give yourself credit for the things you are working on. Repeat the process as needed. Optimism is a skill ANYONE can learn.

Health Benefits of Being Optimistic
•    Better mental health
•    Longer lifespan
•    Decreased stress levels
•    Mindful mindset
•    Increased motivation

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