Learned helplessness – victimhood and the Siren song.

Learned helplessness is a terrible thing.

Thinking you are a victim makes you so.

Blaming others for your sad state of affairs keeps you trapped there.

Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you are right.

I knew a lady who once complained that there was a roach in her house. She was concerned about how filthy and dirty they are. She said that she was so upset about it that she had to have a smoke. I told her that the cigarette would cause her far more damage to her health than the roach. She got very angry with me and then told me that my saying that made her have to smoke even more.

It has to be terrible to live your life like a puppet.

I did not make her smoke. I did not force her to do anything. That was her choice.

Look at the Nazis. They said they had to commit all those atrocities because otherwise they would be killed. But it is better to die clean than live dirty. They made their choice.

To smoke is to commit an atrocity against yourself.

I knew a guy who weighed over 500 pounds. He said that he couldn’t help it. Everybody in his family was that large. If everybody in his family was as inactive as him, it makes sense. He even had a free membership to the Y and spent his whole time either drinking coffee or floating around in the pool. There were many opportunities for him to get healthy and he chose to not take them. He ate terribly, he refused to exercise. He acted as if he had no choice in the matter. That too was his choice.

It is all about choices. Sometimes people make bad choices. Then there are repercussions. It isn’t fate. It isn’t being unlucky. It is a direct correlation to an action or inaction.

You reap what you sow. If you don’t sow anything, you don’t reap anything. Simple.

I knew a guy who said that he wanted to quit smoking. And then he took another puff of his cigarette. If you want to quit smoking, quit smoking. Really. You are the one buying the cigarettes, lighting them, and bringing them up to your mouth and inhaling. These are all conscious acts. It is all something you are doing. It isn’t something that happens to you. It is your choice.

Whatever you want to be, you have to do. If you want to be healthy, you have to do the things that healthy people do. You have to eat healthy food. You have to eat a reasonable amount of it. You have to exercise daily. You have to get enough sleep.

You can’t wish it into being. You have to do it.

To get jealous of someone who has something you don’t is to paint yourself as a victim. It is in fact why you don’t have what they do – because you have given your power away. You have said that you can’t do it. You have chosen that.

You will either find a way or find an excuse.

Look at what you can do and do it.

I used to be obese. I used to smoke pot daily. I used to smoke clove cigarettes. I wallowed in my helplessness.

I remember one time I decided to at least slow down on my pot smoking. I put the supplies in a plastic bag and sealed it with rubber bands. I put it up in my closet. I had to get a chair to pull it down. It took me quite a bit of time to get to it.

Then I’d climb up there and pull it all apart, and smoke anyway. All along I felt helpless, in the thrall of my desire for that drug. I’d feel guilty and upset and angry at myself. But I’d seal it up again, and it would slow me down a little. That step alone was a step towards getting free.

No change happens immediately. It is all made of little steps.

I even moved two hours away from the person I bought pot from so that it would be harder for me to smoke. I had to drive a long way to get pot. I did that on purpose, to make it harder for myself. That too was a step.

Lao Tzu says that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And then there is another step. And another. You just have to keep walking towards your goal, one step at a time.

I remember one time I was making a rosary. I worked on it a little. Then I put it aside. A lot of time went by and I didn’t work on it. But then when I came back to it I realized that all the work I had done was still there. It hadn’t lost anything. So I added to it.

Positive actions towards a goal are the same.

You don’t abuse drugs, or food, or sex, or whatever. You abuse yourself. You are insulting your soul. You are abusing the gift that God has given you.

Look at Ulysses. He wanted to hear the sound of the Sirens. He knew that hearing it might drive him insane. He told his men to put wax in their ears so they would be safe, and to tie him to the mast so he couldn’t jump into the sea and drown.

Our addictions are like the Siren song. They draw us away from our rational selves. When we are sober, when we are free of the pull, we have the chance to make a decision to make it harder on ourselves to succumb.

My putting the supply of pot further away from myself was my lashing myself to the mast. It slowed me down and made me think. Ideally, yes, I would have thrown it away. At times I did that too, and I just bought more. At that time, I thought I could control it. Just like Ulysses, I wanted to hear that Siren song, just not succumb to it. It is a dangerous game.

Jesus says in Matthew 5:29-30 (ESV)
29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Sometimes we have to make hard choices in order to get healthy.

It is hard to be addicted, but it is still a conscious choice. The addiction is like nothing else. It consumes you. Ideally, it is better to not start. I don’t think anybody will ever tell you that smoking cigarettes, doing drugs, and eating junk food is good for you. We all delude ourselves when we think we can do these things and not get hurt. But if we do succumb, and fall into that pit, there is a way out.

It is step, by step, by step.

But first you have to stop being a victim.

I knew a guy who abused prescription drugs. They weren’t even his drugs. It wasn’t an accident. He didn’t develop an addiction from taking a prescription drug that was for him. He voluntarily and soberly took the first pill or four. He wasn’t an addict when he started.

He knew the risks. He thought it couldn’t happen to him. He thought he was special.

He ended up going to rehab twice. His wife left him. His brother started abusing drugs along with him. His father got sick from all the stress. And then he actually had the nerve to say “Why does all this bad stuff keep happening to us?” and “Why does God hate us so much?”

This passive attitude was the reason he was in that mess. He was the cause of all that mess, not God.

We are the cause of our own problems – not others. We are the solution too, not others.