The scientific name for it is ‘learned helplessness.” In 1965, psychologists Mark Seligman and Steve Maier conducted an experiment in which three groups of dogs were placed in harnesses. In the third group dogs received shocks which the dogs could not turn off by pressing a lever (as could the control group). Shocks came randomly and seemed inevitable, which caused “learned helplessness,” the dogs assuming that nothing could be done about the shocks. The dogs in group three ended up displaying symptoms of clinical depression. Clinically this happens when you can not control your environment.
At work my struggle is between my expectations and my attitude. There are many things I can not control such as my employees, support from bosses and hours to run my department. I am impacted by each of these. I wish I could lower my expectations but that is not possible nor is it proper. Therefore I need to work on my attitude which plummets as I wrestle with how little control I have. Attempting to arrive at a solution today I came up with a framework.
I often ask Christ how He managed to deal with us. Since He left Heaven to live among us, deal with us and put up with us I am using His example as a starting point. I arrived at three main points.
1. Be humble. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
2. Submit. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously…
3. Allow the sting of the situation to fall upon the back of Christ.
That’s the framework I’m trying to live in. I can’t control my bosses, my employees or my customers. I can control my attitude and prayers.