Learned helplessness and being a tragic character in someone else’s story

The other day I had someone apologise for letting me down, citing a long list of events that had happened to them.

People are not disturbed by things but by the view they take of them - Stoic Philosopher Epicetus argued that we don't respond to an event, we respond to the meaning of an event. And that the meaning of an event is shaped by our ego and concept of loss. Neuroscience helps us understand that this is "programmed" in to our body through our beliefs, our identity and our practiced behaviours.
People are not disturbed by things but by the view they take of them – Stoic Philosopher Epicetus argued that we don’t respond to an event, we respond to the meaning of an event. And that the meaning of an event is shaped by our ego and concept of loss. Neuroscience helps us understand that this is “programmed” in to our body through our beliefs, our identity and our practiced behaviours.

They were stressing out as they explained in great detail the catalogue of misfortunes that had befallen them.

I suppose I could have nodded in sympathy.

I could have said I totally understand, maybe joined in, sharing stories of all the bad luck I’ve had.

Not my style. It’s faux kindness.

Instead I asked how being a pinball was working for them.

It’s frighteningly easy to learn helplessness, to bounce from one event to another; our wellbeing and options limited by external things.

It takes courage and creativity to get back control.

And friends and colleagues who call us on it, not to nod in sympathy and look the other way.

Because we all deserve the opportunity to be the lead in our own story, not the tragic or comedy character in someone else’s.

Events aren’t bad or unlucky unless we make them so.

So our options and responses are only limited if we decide they are.

Einstein said “you can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that created it”.

So the next time you see a friend or colleague pin balling their way through life or work, do the kind thing and show them a better way.

Heart Rate Variability training using biofeedback is a proven technique for helping you in to a powerful "flow" state of mind for solving problems, and is a technique that you can apply in all areas of your life
When you learn helplessness, it becomes very difficult to see a way out, because you’ve created a situation where helplessness prevents problem solving. More often than not you need external events or people to give you a change of perspective.

Further Reading on helplessness

Coping with the stress of unexpected events

The obstacle is the way; the alchemy of stoicism

S\he made me feel [insert emotion here]; self-regulation and achieving your goals

How complaining affects your health and business

#stress #resilience #stoicism #leadership #mentalhealth #nexus8

Matt

Experienced business leader, mentor and coach, with fascinations for technology, psychology and ancient philosophies. A self-confessed techno hippy with a unique talent for bringing the best out in people.

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