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Learned Helplessness

Why Not?

By C. Rommial ButlerPublished 2 years ago 3 min read
Is the view of the floor better than the view from the floor?

I wrote this essay during a time when I was going through something extremely difficult which is way more common than people think and which many people still yet do not recognize as a societal problem. It’s been many years and I am still working through it, so for the sake of certain individuals who I love very much I cannot go into specifics about it, as it may adversely affect them if I am too candid. I can only point out that things are not always as they appear, and hope that these words will suffice as a general reminder that all who wander are not lost.

We've all been this guy...

learned help·less·ness


a condition in which a person suffers from a sense of powerlessness, arising from a traumatic event or persistent failure to succeed. It is thought to be one of the underlying causes of depression.

Forgive me for bringing up this subject. I do not mean to depress you more. In fact, I hope to help you realize that this condition can be reversed. It takes an inner dialogue, an awareness of self, a questioning of your own habits as well as the wider world.

How do you explain things to yourself? When bad things happen, what's your first instinct?

If your first instinct is to think "Why bother at all? Why even try?" Then you may have fallen into this state of learned helplessness.

But what if you ask yourself a different question? Like "Why did this fail? How can I change the outcome? What can I do differently?"

It's true that sometimes there is nothing else to do but walk away from the situation. There are plenty of times when futility is apparent.

But say you find yourself in that sort of situation, and you walk away. Do you take that conditioned response with you?

Do you now approach every scenario with a "Why bother?" because of the crushing weight of the ordeal you left behind?

If so, I hope you will reconsider.

Each day is new and brimming with possibilities.

All of us have fought. Some have lost and some have won. Most of us are forced to live with a sort of uneasy compromise.

But let's stop and think. We have knowledge of the particular injustice we suffered. We see that others among us have experienced it as well and we are not alone. We want to see the culture that put us in this situation change for the better.

For our children and their future.

So now the question should not be "Why bother?"

But "Why not?"

Why not put your best foot forward to change the world? Why not do just your little part? You can't know the ultimate outcome. After all, the cultural changes that we try to set in motion now will be for the generations that follow us anyway.

We may FEEL helpless, but if we work to make a change in ourselves for the better and then reflect that through word and deed to the world—well, then we're not helpless...

...we're helping.

So please don't lose hope for yourself, no matter what happens. The world is a better place if there's a better you in it. We can't measure the effect of any one person's actions on the unfolding future, but we can be sure that no action will equal no effect.

When we learn to act for the sake of being a better individual, and not for the sake of an expected result, we do suddenly find that there is much for which to hope.

So, ask yourself, why not?

...but we don't have to walk off the cliff. We can enjoy the view instead.


About the Creator

C. Rommial Butler

C. Rommial Butler is a writer, musician and philosopher from Indianapolis, IN. His works can be found online through multiple streaming services and booksellers.

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Comments (2)

  • Jay Kantorabout a year ago

    C.R. ~ After reading your exchange with Cendrine I instantly *Subscribed to you: Relating on so many levels with this article, I have to acknowledge your comment "Why Bother," as I coincidently wrote (2) pieces on "Pick your Battles" and "The Edge." I'm so not into self-promotion. But, I'm in awe of your wit and intelligence, along with your lovely carefully fashioned presentations, that I thought I might share similar 'Schtick.' What's in store for us next ? - Vocal Authors Community - Jay Kantor, Chatsworth, California 'Senior' Vocal Author

  • I feel attacked because I always go with "Why bother" 😅 But what you said made a lot of sense. I can try to be a better person and not give up. I'm glad I read this!

C. Rommial ButlerWritten by C. Rommial Butler

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