When you believe you can handle any challenge, you can. When you believe you are a helpless victim of the world, you are.
We have names for people who always face up to all of their challenges. We call them “go-getters” or “doers”. We also have names for people who seem not to stand up to any challenges. We call them “faint of heart” or “slackers”. Psychologists describe them as individuals who suffer from “learned helplessness”. The former are “strong-willed” and “have a backbone”, the latter “have no backbone” and “have no will”.
We can go on and on with such descriptions, but it changes nothing. In order to understand why people become one way or the other, we have to look at how their lives shaped them into the kind of person they became.
When you are encouraged from early childhood on to explore and try things, and to not give up when things don’t go right the first time, and, then, are given recognition when you succeed at whatever you may try, chances are that you will come to believe in yourself as a person who can handle any challenges that come your way.
When you are discouraged from such things and are usually criticized or corrected in whatever you try or do, you gradually develop a negative reaction to tackling any problems or new things that come your way because of a developed disbelief in your abilities to face challenges and solve them. Under such circumstances, people tend to give up or not try to do anything to improve themselves or their world.
That we are the products of our environments cannot be underscored enough, and it makes our responsibilities as parents, teachers and, most of all, as role models of utmost importance in the development of our children.
When people learn to see and respond to the harsh world we live in as full of challenges and not hopeless devastations, they are able to handle adversities and continue with hope. Without having a learned belief that you can withstand anything that the world throws at you, hope is virtually impossible and the world looks bleak. Seeing yourself as a helpless victim of the world is a sure recipe for being chronically depressed.