Learned helplessness can be found at the root of so much perceived unhappiness in the Western world, at the very least. It underpins much of modern behavior, yet it is learned and can therefore be un-learned.
The simple premise is that something outside of your control has power over you, and there's nothing you can do about it. Might as well accept it..?
This is about the relinquishing of personal responsibility for personal lifestyle, beliefs and behavior. And who can we blame for this? Well, that attitude just illustrates it: "blame" suggests "not my fault".
There are many other descriptions for this mindset, such as 'Victim Mentality', but the one I prefer is 'Cause-Effect' as it suggests a process.
Have you come across it? For instance, how about some of the building blocks behind Depression, Anxiety, Anorexia or Stress? Some have gone further and added Allergy, Asthma, ADHD and even some Cancers. But how can this be? Surely it's common knowledge that these things 'just happen' to the unlucky few..?
What much of these conditions have in common is that they are increasingly believed to be major manifestations or symptoms of a deeper long-term malaise or ongoing intolerance to something specific, brought to the forefront by a significant emotional trauma.
The human body can take a lot of less-than-optimal lifestyle choices, but there is a limit before it demands that you take notice and act.
With personal responsibility, the course of action is clear - acknowledge the way your body is begging you to take action, and make some major lifestyle changes. Mental and/or physical, what you have been doing up until now isn't working for you.
But with a 'Cause-Effect' mentality, there must be something to blame: "I had a rough childhood", "It's in my genes", "He made me like this", "It was inevitable", etc.
Then of course, in true learned helplessness fashion, it's time to blame the symptom too: "My Depression means I can't". "My Anxiety stops me", "I suffer from Stress", etc.
And of course, if you believe the cause is out of your hands, then so is the solution.
This is where only taking medication for the symptom can be seen as counter-intuitive: it's only designed to 'manage' the symptom - which is simply your body's way of getting your attention to deal with a deeper issue.
When the oil warning light in your car comes on, do you simply remove the bulb? That sure makes that uncomfortable warning signal go away. Or, how about just putting some fresh oil in the engine to keep everything running smoothly..?
Playing 'victim' to learned helplessness ensures that nothing will change. It's certainly easy to do, and you may even get some reliable sympathy - but really, what a waste of time, money, energy and potential.
Take some time to notice Cause-Effect in everyday life; you can see and hear it in shop queues, on TV, on the bus, etc.. For instance, when a person says that someone made them feel a certain way or that they "just can't" do something.
Then, look at an area in your life that you think someone else is to blame for. Was it really anyone's fault, given the circumstances? So what if it was, now that it's in the past? You're much wiser now, and have no need for extra emotional luggage.
What if you could simply permit yourself to take much more of an active role in your life, going forwards? No-one else can give you that permission so it has to come from you, sooner or later... or even right now.
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