Thursday, August 21, 2008

How to overcome learned helplessness

The most efficient solution for learned helplessness is to open your eyes and free your mind. Many of us think of learned helplessness as an inability. We tend to imagine this situation as not being able to do something. We also tend to believe that it involves fear.

Those are not close to the truth of learned helplessness. Let's review and remind the concept and then go on with the solution.

Learned helplessness is a psychological condition in which a human being or an animal has learned to act or behave helpless in a particular situation, even when it has the power to change its unpleasant or even harmful circumstance (wikipedia).

This is a case of strong learning. Usually, the inability does not come out of fear or strong emotions but it comes out of the new reality tunnel and established beliefs of the subject.

When a person is suffering from learned helplessness, he or she is not even aware of his or her state. When confronted with a situation which requires an act on the part of an individual, and this individual does not act accordingly, this is not because of a feeling of helplessness. It is because he even cannot think that he should act or he does not know that he can act.

Therefore, the key solution to learned helplessness is not courage but awareness. This is not a road in which the subject will be empowered. This should be a way of "dis-learning" or forgetting and learning again in a new fashion, what is being learned beforehand.

Learned helplessness is not an emotion, it is a belief.

Then how can one overcome learned helplessness? How is it possible for an individual who is not really aware or just barely aware of his situation?

So, learned helplessnes itself not an emotion but it can produce negative emotions usually so much that the individual knows deep inside about his helplessness. However the big obstacle is the resistance towards such a negative emotion and willing to work on it. It takes time.

When it comes to social interaction, learned helplessness has to be evaluated with feelings of guilt too. One feels helpless however she thinks she is the only reason for this feeling. In fact, since this is something learned, one should be sure of the fact that outside effects made her learn this helplessness.

So, the biggest help is insight about the helplessness and trying to decondition (can be also identified as reconditioning but deconditioning is a better definition) and unlearn it.

Starting with small steps may help. Let's suppose that your learned helplessness is about communicating with the opposite sex. In that case, the helplessness can be formulated this way: You are not able to affect any conversation with the opposite sex. This is the belief learned that causes helplessness. It comes as if he or she will not hear you. So most probably, you have been ignored in the past and learned that whatever you will do, the situation won't change.

To overcome such a learned helplessness, you have to try and expose yourself to the same situation again.


Your emotions tell you that there is something wrong. Maybe you think that you have to be more assertive to make yourself heard. Maybe you think that you are not from this world, you are rather an alien. Anyway, all of those thinking is very normal at this time.

Try to understand that what you think you are not able to do puts you in a special situation. Try to understand that you cannot be that special, it is simply impossible.


Your act should be based on your awareness. Since helplessness is something you have learned, at the unlearning phase, you may have to lose yourself a little bit. Try to forget who you are so that you are less bound with your conditioning. Meditate on the idea that you are somebody who is born just a couple of minutes before and everything you will do is up to you and not up to something you may have learned earlier because there is no past.

Really meditate on it. The problem with that meditation might be that you may be not aware of what you are not aware of.

Therefore, it may be a good idea to take help from a friend or a professional who will enhance your vision.

If you can achieve the meditation part successfully than you can start living a different life, day by day. You are going to become another you, who has unlearned the helplessness or has not learned it at all.

Learned helplessness is a kind of brainwashing and you can brainwash yourself for unlearning it.

There is going to be lots of trail and error and that's okay. Love yourself for your failures and convince yourself that your failures are just steps that will bring you to success with your unlearning process.

(to be continued)