Learned Helplessness

“Learned helplessness, in psychology, a mental state in which an organism forced to bear aversive stimulus, or stimuli that are painful or otherwise unpleasant, becomes unable or unwilling to avoid subsequent encounters with those stimuli, even if they are “escapable,” presumably because it has learned that it cannot control the situation.” Encyclopedia Britannica

“Emotional intelligence (EI) is the capability of individuals to recognize their own, and other people’s emotions, to discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and to manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt environments or achieve one’s goal(s).” Wikipedia

Are you the type of person that gives up easily? Have you always been this way? The first sign of trouble you lash out, or look for a means of escape? Are you afraid to face things? Even the worst parts of yourself? Do you avoid failure at all costs? Even if means that you can learn from it? Welcome to the wonderful world of learned helplessness. It kills businesses, relationships, and any possible personal growth.

Amy Morin, author of “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do” talks about this. Much of her book deals with the things that hold people back. It’s well worth the read. And, if you are suffering from learned helplessness, you can turn things around. You have to be willing to give up your means of escaping reality to do so. How do you know if you’re suffering from it?

Do you use alcohol or drugs when you can’t deal with your situation? Many people say and/or do things drunk or high that they would never say and/or do if they were in control of themselves. Learned helplessness teaches that you can’t do anything on your own, so using alcohol or drugs somehow becomes the equalizer. If you believe this to be true. Ask yourself one vital question:  Why can I only say and/or do something under the influence, when I’m no longer in total control of myself? Most people live to regret decisions, choices and actions made while intoxicated.

Are you using people when you can’t deal with your situation? Bad break up, and you want the other person to lose or suffer? Close friend and/or family member have some issues that refuse to see what they’ve done, making it impossible to talk to them about it? So you turn to someone else? In the end, it creates more problems. Social media, texting, email, etc… are making it possible to cause unending drama. Deal with the issues directly and calmly. It’s amazing how fast they resolve.

* Warning: A person that is combative, abusive and/or belligerent whenever they are hurt and/or challenged is dangerous. They aren’t interested in resolution, only winning at all costs. Their Emotional Intelligence may be low ( name calling [verbal abuse], fixation [the inability to move on from a traumatic event],  cyber bullying and/or other forms of stalking, grudges, and changes in personality when using a substance [alcohol or drugs] are red flags ). Go no contact if any of the above escalates and involve law enforcement if it continues. 

Are you in denial? No one wants to be the bad guy. But, be honest, are you? Learned helplessness can quickly turn into bitterness. The quest for revenge and lashing out becomes the norm, and people will avoid you. Bad energy is toxic, and if not dealt with can destroy your relationships and ultimately your life. Projection, deflection and blame are the tools used to self protect, and it eventually become a fortress of your own making. It then destroys from within. Some of the most miserable people in life refuse to look at themselves as the orchestrator’s of their own misery.

Learn helplessness can be overcome. You have to be willing to admit that it’s a problem. If not? Then you will continue to feel angry, bitter, and uneasy in your own skin. The key to overcoming it? Take action, and face your fears. If you have a substance abuse problem join a group. Stop letting the addiction control you. Can’t let go of a person? See a therapist and get help moving on. Only another person can call you on being in denial. If 3 people tell you you look sick? You look sick. Ask them for help on how to clean up your act. Don’t live in a prison of your making. Life is too short to be miserable, lonely, and isolated.

 

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