Virtual & In Person Therapy Services

Blog Post

Learned Helplessness Explained!

In times past, baby elephants in the circus were tied to ground poles to keep them from wandering off. Because they were so young, this ground pole was enough to keep them in one place however much they attempted to get free. They soon learned they could not get free and so they gave up trying.  As they grew in to adults they continued to be tied to ground poles with the belief that it was not possible to free themselves from their situation. The truth was that as adults with their great size and strength they could easily have removed that ground pole with very little effort. In the end it was not the ground pole keeping them from being free, it was the learned helplessness. The belief they could not break free.

This elephant story is a good analogy to explain learned helplessness.

Here you can read how this might apply to people.

Do you feel like you’re not really a worthy person?  Maybe you dislike yourself?  Perhaps you can’t see what others see in you and you probably hate looking in the mirror too? Has this become your everyday normal? Has it been like this for as long as you can remember or is it a more recent thing? The fact is, feeling this way has become ‘normal’ for so many people and it’s actually become something which is promoted and rewarded by society.

Take a look at any Soap program on TV and you will witness anger, frustration, violence, revenge and tears. These are just a few of the negative emotions they portray in each episode. Watch them often enough and you may find yourself replicating their language and behaviour! Have you noticed this?

Then take a look at the programs where young men and women are put on an island to see who falls in love with each other. So much about them is fake. Their hair, nails, eyebrows and lashes all false. Then there is the botoxed lips and cheeks and fake tans. All this to make themselves look attractive.  Watch this often enough and you may find yourself feeling quite inadequate and wishing you looked like them. 

You may have noticed I used the word ‘program’ when referring to the TV shows above. That is exactly what they are. In the same way a computer is programmed, you too are being unknowingly programmed to feel dissatisfied with yourself and the life you lead.

You unconsciously fall in to the trap of what is known as learned helplessness.                                          

The negative subliminal messages delivered from your TV (and our newspapers, magazines, radio and advertising) on a daily basis become your beliefs and shape how you live and behave. You have this constant underlying feeling of not being good enough. You feel that happiness is eluding you and that causes deep sadness. You feel stuck and unconsciously believe you cannot change things for the better.

If your friends, family and work colleagues are all running the same programs then it stands to reason you all have similar thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Complaining about work, family members or partners on a regular basis becomes the norm and everyone does it.  You have all become victims of the same soul destroying way of life. You have all subconsciously fallen in to learned helplessness .A place where you unconsciously believe this is how life is meant to be. You believe there’s nothing you can do about it and so you don’t even try to change things. You’re ok with being ‘normal’ like everyone else. It’s a familiar place where you feel safe. You have a connection with others on the same negative wavelength. You’re able understand and sympathise with one another and nothing much changes.

Depression is a result of being stuck in a destructive and disempowering program. Because it’s your ‘normal’ you are often not even aware of it. You just know you feel really sad and stuck. You hate feeling this way but don’t know what to do about it.

Anxiety is also caused by the faulty programs you run. In order to try and soothe yourself and to help you feel better  symptoms show up. Things like obsessive compulsive, self-harming, panic attacks, PTSD and eating disorders.  These are symptoms of anxiety and not the cause. Sadly exhibiting these coping strategies often causes more anxiety. Learned helplessness again!

Typically, it’s only when things get really bad and you feel like you just can’t cope any longer that you may seek help.

Why is it that you do not seek help earlier? Why do you wait until you are at breaking point before you seek help?

Could it be the negative program you are running about yourself and your life that’s holding you back?  That learned helplessness again!

The very program that causes the suffering you are experiencing is the same program that stops you seeking help. It’s a negative thought process looping round and round in your mind keeping you stuck. It says you are not worthy, you don’t deserve and it’s shameful to feel the way you do.

How much longer will you choose to continue feeling this way?

Maybe there is a little voice inside your head that is desperately asking for help and to be heard.

If you would like to identify and address learned helplessness in your life  Contact  me today.