Learned helplessness… It’s a real thing and can wreak havoc, especially those in a solo entrepreneurial position. It’s not something we really plan for either. When we are starting our new business, no one really warns us that learned helplessness could be lurking around every bend. Especially when we make poor decisions in business, the feeling is magnified, and the next thing we know, we are paralyzed.
This doesn’t have to make or break your business. It’s a learned behavior, which means it can also be unlearned. The best defense you have is preventing it from happening, but once you’re in the clutches of learned helplessness, you also need to know how to recover and get back on track!
What is Learned Helplessness?
First, we need to understand the definition of helplessness and how it gets into our thoughts and feelings. In the most basic of terms, helplessness is the feeling that we are unable to help ourselves. We can’t defend ourselves against whatever is coming, or whatever is already here. We believe any action will be futile at best and grossly ineffective.
So how does this horrible mess seep into our way of thinking? Experiences. Everything we see, hear and do gets interpreted by the brain as an opinion. WE create an opinion, without even knowing it, really. If you surround yourself with negativity, it’s hard to have a positive outlook. That’s learned helplessness at its core.
Repetitious negativity begets more negativity. We end up feeling like nothing good is going to come from a situation, so why even try?
Pessimism vs. Optimism
Picture the most negative person you know. Is this person someone you want to be around? The person who constantly criticizes anything and everything. This person brings everyone down and never has anything nice or encouraging to say. Even during times of happiness, they’ve got something horrendous to add to the conversation. For instance, at a wedding. This is the person who says something like, “I don’t know what all the fuss is about, they will end up divorced in a year.”
Now picture the most positive person you know. You’d probably rather spend more time around this person. Not only because it’s not so taxing on your brain to be around them, but because some of their positivity might just rub off on you.
This person always finds something positive about any circumstance. This person finds the silver lining, no matter how dark the situation. At that same wedding, this person will be the one complimenting the beauty of the ceremony, how great everyone looks, and show that they are genuinely honored to have been invited.
Therefore, if you are suffering from a bout of learned helplessness, it’s time to change and fast!