Learned Helplessness Syndrome and Its Consequences

How to overcome failures and become the master of your life?

While someone ambitiously achieves their goals, are you marking time and mentally preparing for failure? Perhaps it’s learned helplessness syndrome. Our experts tell us why it forms and how to defeat it.

What Is Learned Helplessness?

Learned helplessness syndrome is a psychological condition when a person experiences despair and refuses active participation in solving his problems. Usually it is preceded by negative life situations; a person faces difficulties that he cannot overcome. If such situations are repeated, he gradually loses faith in his abilities and expects only failures. This creates a feeling of uselessness and helplessness.

With learned helplessness syndrome, a person becomes captive of his own beliefs about his inability to influence circumstances. Researchers initially observed this phenomenon in animals who, after a series of unsuccessful attempts to avoid unpleasant stimuli, stopped taking any action to change the situation. Ultimately, even when circumstances changed and the opportunity to avoid discomfort arose, they continued to do nothing. In humans, the mechanism is similar: after a series of failures or when faced with authoritarian pressure, a person may come to the conclusion that all his actions are meaningless. The basis for this is a lack of faith in one’s own influence on life.

Learned helplessness can develop due to negative childhood experiences or after stressful situations in adult life. For example, if a woman had an abusive relationship with her parents, it is difficult for her to get out of such a family relationship with her husband. If a specialist does not believe in himself and is afraid of promotion, he will not be able to achieve success in his career. A student may be afraid to enter a university due to low academic performance and lack of self-confidence.

How Does the Syndrome Manifest?

Learned helplessness syndrome often boils down to apathy and lack of initiative. A person stops trying new things, avoids challenges and prefers to live according to the principle “my house is on the edge.” At work, he will not try to reach a new level or propose an idea, and in his personal life he avoids resolving conflicts or seeking compromises. “This condition can lead to chronic life dissatisfaction, depression or social isolation. It is like inertia – it is difficult to move and requires significant effort to change the direction of movement.

A person can refuse to make any decisions and rely on other people for everything. It avoids responsibility and reduces anxiety. However, such tactics do not solve the problem, but only exacerbate it. As a result, a person can fall into a pathological state when he does not believe in himself and does not see opportunities for change.

Learned helplessness is dangerous, it makes us passive and indifferent to life. We begin to see everything through the prism of pessimism, and lose interest in development and change. The result is disappointment, anxiety, stress and complete energy deficiency.

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What the Research Says

People with learned helplessness often complain about their lives, see everything in black terms and miss opportunities that float into their hands. This may irritate their environment, so it is in no hurry to help them. And the advice “pull yourself together and change your life” does not work on them.

According to many experts, learned helplessness is not a personal fault, but a personal misfortune. Instead of reacting to problems and unfavorable situations, he exhibits maladaptive behavior: avoidance, denial and procrastination. For example, students with learned helplessness tend to procrastinate, resulting in poorer grades, feelings of dissatisfaction, and low self-esteem.

Researchers note that learned helplessness also increases the likelihood of various health problems, increases the risk of addiction, and negatively affects recovery if a person is already sick. People with learned helplessness are more likely to develop depression.

How to get rid of the syndrome and become the master of your life

Learned helplessness syndrome can be a difficult condition, but with the right approach and support it can be overcome. It’s important to realize that you are capable of change and that you can influence your life.

 For this:

Analyze Your Life

Identify the possible benefit that you get from your helplessness. Be honest with yourself and try to understand what you get when you don’t take responsibility for your life.

Think about what you want

To get out of a state of learned helplessness, you need to focus on what you want. Start asking yourself questions, creating goals, and getting involved in your life.

Increase Your Efficiency

Start with small tasks that you can successfully complete. Gradually do one thing after another. Soon you will believe in your abilities and see that you can achieve your goals.

Avoid negative aspirations

Focus on your achievements and opportunities, not on your failures and problems. Positive thinking and self-confidence will help you overcome feelings of helplessness.

Change Your Perspective

Look at past failures as learning opportunities, not as confirmation of your inability. Force yourself to take active steps even when you don’t want to. This is the only way to “stretch” the stagnant will.

Keep a Success Diary

Write down in it everything that you managed to do today, for which you are grateful for this day. Praise yourself daily. And if negative attitudes begin to take over you again, re-read your notes. They will motivate you not to give up and gradually increase your self-confidence.

Look for Outside Support

If a person does not have a strategy to win, then this experience has nowhere to go. In this case, he cannot do without outside help.

Support groups or therapy with a specialist can help destroy negative attitudes. The psychologist will work through outdated programs and roles through psychological techniques and teach them to act in such a way that this will lead to positive results and gradually accustom a person to victories.

Don’t Be Afraid of Change

Remember: you are the editor-in-chief of your life. Learned helplessness syndrome is just one chapter of your story. Start the next chapter with a clean slate, where every line will be filled with the desire for change and self-improvement.

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