Learned Helplessness, You Werent Born Helpless!!

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Learned Helplessness

Do you always yourself feeling helpless? Have you tried every possible way to fix your problems yet found no way out?
Do you think that you are a helpless person?
If you have experienced these feelings before, then I am sorry to tell you that you have been fooled. you weren’t born helpless but you just learned how to become helpless.

An experiment was carried out on a number of dogs by subjecting them to electric shocks while providing them with a switch that they can use to stop the electric current from flowing into their bodies.

To some of the test animals the switch was disabled in such a way that nothing happens when its pressed. After the experiment some of the dogs who weren’t able to stop the electric current developed symptoms that are similar to clinical depression; or to put it in another way: these dogs learned how to be helpless.

You Weren’t Born Helpless

Have you ever tried to notice how a small child tries over and over to do the same thing without getting bored? Have you ever met a person who can’t walk now because he gave up on walking when he was a child after few unsuccessful tries?

Of course this never happened! Why don’t these kids stop trying and why do some adults stop? Because as a result of their life's experiences some adults learned how to feel helpless!!

How Did I Learn to Become Helpless?

I have met many people who used to recover from setbacks within few days only to find them becoming totally helpless and depressed a few years later.

When I talked to one of them I discovered that he was totally convinced that there was no way out of his problems. But what happened to those people? Weren't they persistent?
Here is what happened to them:

  • Learned Helplessness and Being Helpless: If you faced a big problem in your life you are likely to take one of these actions: 1) keep trying until you solve it
    2) keep trying while gradually losing hope, 3) lose hope and stop trying. If you did the second or the third action then you are going to learn how to be a helpless person. You can prevent this from happening by never quitting anything midway unless you have no other option. The more you quit the more likely you will learn how to become helpless.
  • Learned Helplessness and Subconscious Mind Programming:At the time of crisis you may become highly sensitive and receptive to critical comments that you receive from the people surrounding you. If your friends were helpless too they will keep transferring their beliefs to you until you will learn how to become helpless. The solution is simple, try to choose successful friends, I know that this can be out of control but at least put this new parameter into consideration while expanding your relations.
  • Media and Learned Helplessness: The song “My Immortal” is considered a perfect example for a song that teaches people how to become helpless; the choice of words simply programs you to learn how to be broken. Don’t underestimate the effect of the music you listen to on your personality; its impact is far more extensive than you could imagine. (see the psychological effect of songs for more information.

Learned Depression and Learned Helplessness

Just as helplessness can be learned, depression can be learned too. In many cases depression is nothing more than being convinced that you are helpless. This emotional pain you are currently experiencing as a result of your depression may be nothing more than a false belief about your ability to take action!!

Final Words

Don’t let life fool you; don’t learn how to become helpless because you have failed once or twice.

Whatever the situation you are facing force your way out without feeling helpless and whenever you feel like giving up and conceding defeat just remind yourself of the fact that helplessness is learned and that it’s not something that you were born with.

Remember, just as you learned helplessness by practicing it, you can unlearn it by not practicing it.

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Still thinking that you are helpless?

I think that I am a victim.

I used to be so strong and now I feel broken..

I've tried so many times, but have failed just as much!!

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