When an animal is repeatedly exposed to an unpleasant stimulus from which it cannot escape, learned helplessness develops.
The animal will eventually cease attempting to avoid the stimulation and start acting as though it has no control over the circumstance.
Even when there are opportunities to flee, this ingrained helplessness will keep you from taking any action.
Although the idea is closely related to animal psychology and behavior, it also has many applications to human circumstances.
A sense of learned helplessness eventually sets in when a challenging situation is faced repeatedly. They begin to believe that they have no power to influence or change the situation, so they give up even when there are opportunities for improvement.
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The American Psychological Association claims that when a person encounters stressful, uncontrollable situations frequently, they develop a learned helplessness that prevents them from using control when it becomes accessible.
Even when change is conceivable, individuals no longer attempt to do so since they have “learned” that they are powerless in that circumstance.
When someone has this experience and realizes they have little influence over the world around them, they get demotivated.
Even when a chance to improve their situation presents itself, they choose not to take it. People who have developed helplessness frequently have poorer decision-making skills.
Learned helplessness may also increase anxiety symptoms and have an impact on the onset, severity, and long-term effects of illnesses like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
When you have persistent anxiety, you can eventually give up trying to find treatment because the symptoms seem unavoidable and incurable.
As a result, those who suffer from mental health conditions like anxiety or depression may reject treatments that could help them manage their symptoms, such as medication or counseling.
Learned helplessness can develop into a vicious cycle as people age. People who struggle with issues like anxiety or depression sometimes believe there is nothing they can do to alleviate their symptoms.
Signs of Learned Helplessness
Adversity can be difficult to overcome, and not everyone always feels at their best. That is typical. But learned helplessness goes far further than that. The following signs point to the onset of learned helplessness:
- Low Self Esteem: People who have learned helplessness have low self-esteem and question their capacity to complete even the most basic tasks.
- Frustration: People who have learnt helplessness have an extremely low threshold for frustration because they feel like they have no control over anything. When working on projects or interacting with others, they are quickly overextended or frazzled.
- Passivity: Any motivation to attempt to affect change is stifled by having the mindset that “Bad things just happen to me.” With this mindset, people make little effort to lessen difficulties or increase their chances of success.
- Low Effort: Learned helplessness can cause delay and avoidance of making decisions. People frequently don’t attempt to finish undertakings or projects because they believe that nothing positive will occur if they do.
- Giving up Easily: Even when they do begin anything, they usually give up very quickly. Follow-through is difficult due to learned helplessness, and even the smallest potholes on the path might feel insufferable.
How to unlearn learned helplessness
What steps may people take to combat their learned helplessness? According to research, learned helplessness can be successfully reduced, especially if treatment is started right away. It is also possible to lessen long-term learned helplessness, albeit this may need longer-term work.
The signs of acquired helplessness may be lessened with therapy. The thinking and behavioral patterns that contribute to learned helplessness can be overcome with the help of cognitive-behavioral therapy, a type of psychotherapy.
The purpose of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is to assist patients in identifying harmful thinking patterns that contribute to emotions of learned helplessness and then to help them replace these beliefs with more upbeat and sensible ones.
This method frequently entails closely examining your thoughts, aggressively contesting them, and dispelling unfavorable thought patterns.
Learned helplessness can have a negative impact on one’s mental and physical health. Increased stress, depressive symptoms, and a diminished motivation to look after one’s physical health are all linked to learned helplessness.
Different people react differently to the same situations. In the face of uncontrollable occurrences, certain persons are more inclined to experience learned helplessness, frequently as a result of biological and psychological reasons. For instance, taught helplessness is more prevalent in children who have helpless parents.
Consider discussing the best course of action with your doctor if you believe that your life and health may be being negatively impacted by learned helplessness.
An accurate diagnosis and course of treatment can be obtained with additional testing, which can assist you in changing your negative thought patterns to more constructive ones. With such therapy, you might be able to swap out your feelings of learned helplessness for ones of learned optimism.
Your life can be impacted by learned helplessness in a variety of ways, none of which are particularly uplifting. The good news is that learned helplessness can be “unlearned.”
Learning something new can advance significantly when you work with someone who can show you these patterns. Feel free to take help from an Best therapist near me at TalktoAngel regarding learned helplessness issues.