SKY IS THE LIMIT
Learned Helplessness is probably one of the biggest reason why so me people despite of having the skills and the circumstances are not able to achieve their desired outcomes. In this post we will explore the concept of learned helplessness and the best ways of overcoming the same.
Learned Helplessness: Case Study
The above conversation is a very good example of learned helplessness. It also hints towards a very important Neuro-Linguistic Programming Presupposition i.e. everyone already has all the resources they need.
What is “Learned Helplessness”?
Learned helplessness refers to a mental state where an organism (person) is convinced that they have no control over their situation, that there is nothing they can do to come out of their current situation, to resolve their problem or to reduce their pain (generally emotional).
Because of this conviction, they stop looking for or overlook opportunities for relief or change.
Very often we give up on our aspirations after initial shortcomings because of this reason. We tend to miscalculate our own resourcefulness and capabilities. At times we miscalculate our ability to arrange for new resources. However, we need to remember the tagline of this article every time we think that we have exhausted our potential: Sky Is the Limit.
Overcoming Learned Helplessness
Remember everyone already has all the resources they need:
Focusing on this NLP presupposition and applying it in your life can help you resolve at least the smaller elements of a problem if not for the bigger ones directly (in this case, unemployment). As you resolve the smaller elements one at a time, the bigger one begins to become more manageable. It is like going up a ladder one step at a time.
We need to realise that the control switch to all our problems lies with us. We just need to find it in the dark-room of learnt helplessness. This helplessness comes from our desire to achieve whatever we want at one go. However, a child doesn’t learn to walk without falling a million times before. We need to take out our primary school books and understand the proverb—Failures are the stepping stones to success—in its true sense.
Standing in an art gallery, we admire the beauty of the ‘whole picture’, don’t we?
We extremely rarely remark, “Hey that mountain looks beautiful. Or that hand looks so tender.”
Have you ever stopped to give heed to the process that took place before the painting acquired its outlook?
Let’s do it now.
First and the most important fact is that the painting started off just as a plain white canvas. This can be used as a metaphor to represent ourselves in our raw form.
Now, do you think that the painting could have ever existed without the canvas?
This must make you realize that you’re the biggest resource in yourself.
Next comes the skeleton of the painting—a few planned strokes and some random ones. This is how you start off on your journey of purposefully (and sometimes luckily) gathering and putting together resources.
The depth of colours filled in the painting later, indicate the amount of effort you’re to put to achieve the desired end result.
Now take a step back and admire the painting of life you just created for yourself!
Wasn’t the above-given procedure of pursuing life goals less burdening than the standard one that we use?
Instead of just getting infatuated by the bigger picture, at first sight, we may need to start seeing things in ascending order of occurrence. Seeing the world that way will make you experience a sense of gratitude, patience and humility because the bigger picture will not be what you aim for but what it will culminate into after sustained efforts towards articulating it.
The journey has to be, if not more than, at least as important as the destination.
In the Mirror House of Life, we shouldn’t lose track of the real reflection of who we are. Sometimes, it is extremely essential for us to realize that the resources we have don’t match the goals we have set. In such cases, we should alter or chunk our goals down (at least in the short run) to fit the available resources we have. This slight modifications made on our part may actually make us feel satisfied with the choices we have made. As we achieve these smaller goals we automatically start moving closer to the original bigger goal.
Isn’t this NLP presupposition very optimistic in itself?
It makes us realize our true potential and provides us with an alternative worldview. It can, in fact, be called the key to self-actualization and self-transcendence.
It enables us to accept ourselves for who we are and love ourselves for being a pool of precious resources ourselves.
We may not have all the internal resources for reaching the summit, but we sure have enough resources to attract other vital internal and external resources to reach there.
Once this understanding becomes a part of your being, you will notice that it is far more easier to free oneself from learned helplessness then what we may have originally thought.
As a therapist, this understanding is a crucial one. People have all the resources, if not we help them create some. Our role by no means is to provide the resources on a platter (in most cases it is almost impossible); it is to:
- Enable the clients to become aware of available resources,
- Help them explore ways of generating more resources and
- Apply these resources effectively in a way that drives them closer to the desired outcome.
Models from Coaching can provide many such insights. The SOFT SEA™ (created by ICHARS) can be a very useful way to carve the path to accomplish an outcome. Processes from NLP like the perceptual position, Levels of Transformation and Metaphors (used in conversational Hypnosis) can unleash multiple areas of possibilities. People become aware of desired skills and states or additional inputs through these processes that could be applied to achieve goals.
Hypnosis, support, motivation and encouragement from the therapist put together can make the journey of applying these discovered resources easier and faster.
If you are a psychologist who would like to develop advanced therapeutic skills based on a unique model that seamlessly integrates different approaches to psychotherapy (cognitive, behavioural, psycho-dynamics and humanistic) with techniques from Clinical Hypnosis, NLP, Mindfulness & Metaphor therapy, you must checkout the Cognitive Hypnotic Psychotherapy™ Program.