Develop the stamina. Part 2: get rid of acquired helplessness

acquired helplessness

This is our second post about how to develop the stamina. The first can be found here. Today we actually start our work.

In 1967, Dr. Martin Seligman began a series of experiments, which involved three groups of dogs. Dogs from the first group was shocked, but they were able to push the nose on the panel, so that the blows stopped. The second group of dogs was likewise shocked, but they had no way to stop it. The third group was a control, it does not electrocuted.

Dogs of the first and the third group recovered after the experiment, but the dogs from the second group that could not escape my own pain, began to show symptoms of clinical depression.

In the second part of the experiment, dogs were placed in boxes with low walls from which they could jump to get rid of the shocks. Low partition was visible. When the dogs were electrocuted, they have all had the opportunity, and it made the dogs of the first and third groups. However, and here the most cruel, sad and interesting) dogs from the second group, who on their own experience learned that the pain can not be avoided, remained in boxes. They thought that they will not be able to do anything. This behavior Seligman called «acquired helplessness».

The experiment was repeated on other animals, children and adults, and results were the same. If one day people realized that does not control the situation, it will continue to feel helpless, even in situations where he has everything under control.

Acquired helplessness

You were a great guy and a caring husband, and betrayed you. You were always a good man, but your father died when you were in school, and stupid morons continue to go fishing with their parents. You heart put into their work, and raised another type. You received a higher education and still can’t find a job.

When these things happen, you lose the important sense of control over their own lives; you stop believing that he is in control of my destiny. You always stick to the rules, but still nothing happened. If you have lost the illusion and become frustrated, passive, and asks the question: «What’s the point?» However, such experience does not guarantee that you will develop itself acquired helplessness.

During the research of Seligman noticed an interesting phenomenon: in all experiments consistently had a ratio of 2/3 of the members in stressful situations with which they could not cope, was developed acquired helplessness, and a third — no. These individuals couldn’t help myself at first, but then still actively attempted to get out of stressful situations.

Dr. Seligman wanted to discover the secret of the third laboratory animals that have not begun to constantly experience this feeling of helplessness. Why would the same events have caused different reactions? It turned out that the solution lies in the style of explanation.

Style explanation for the failure of

Dr. Seligman opened the difference between those who surrenders and retreats, and those who again and again tries to resist failure. He realized that it’s all in the interpretation of events, the basic scheme which are listed below:

  • Personal (internal vs. external).
  • Pervasive (private vs universal).
  • Permanent (temporary vs permanent).

You can come up with names easier, to make it clearer:

  • I/not I.
  • Always/not always.
  • It’s not everything.

When we perceive failure by the scheme «I, always, everything», we believe that the problem is in ourselves that is infinite and will never change, and will manifest in all aspects of life. When problems arise, the person who thinks the scheme is «not me, not always, not everything» says that the problem is caused by the circumstances that they are transient and variable, and that they cannot change the whole course of life.

For obvious reasons, studies have shown that people that have style explanations «not I, not always, not everything» more optimistic than people with styles explaining, «I always,» who are prone to pessimism and depression. If a person fails in something, he will undoubtedly become a individual with acquired helplessness, which he will manifest in different spheres of life.

The effect of the style of explanation is not only in sustainability, it is manifested in all spheres of life. Pessimistic style of explanation «I, always, all» leads to depression, depression, low self-esteem, paralyzes the will in the face of failure. People with an optimistic style of explanation «not me, not always, not everything», on the one hand, have better health, and on the other achieve a bon thelonger success in life.

An example of a style explanation

Let’s look at how to respond to the situation, two people with different styles of explanation. So, the first: «I, always, everything.»

  • He gets fired, he will think that he was very incompetent, was not good enough to work in this company, you’ll never find another good job. He will think that his wife left him, and life will roll downhill.

Now the second — «not I, not always, not everything».

  • He gets fired, and he thinks that for him there is no more reason to work there, the company tries to optimize its performance and sacking people. The economy is not in the best form. But it’ll all work out. Still, he’s not particularly fond of this work because I didn’t use all of their talents. At least at home waiting for an understanding and loving wife.

Flexible optimism

None of us enjoys the same style of explanation constantly. For example, optimistic people, using a style of explanation «not me, not always, not everything» in bad situations, use a different method of explanation is good. And Vice versa in the case of the pessimists. Can we show the acquired helplessness, even when we know that trouble is not our fault: there are two other factors that «always» and «all». For example, you can’t get a job, get a higher education, because the labour market is full. This is not your fault, but you feel like you are always bad.

While pessimistic style of explanation can cause problems and difficulties, to always use an optimistic style of explanation is unhealthy. Because sometimes it really is your fault. You can disgrace, can be to blame for their professional failures. You can admit guilt and move on, believing that the problems are temporary and are not comprehensive.

And finally, to be a pessimist is not always a bad thing. A bit of healthy pessimism keeps you on the ground and does not go to unreasonable risk. It is not necessary to be a blind optimist: the girl from the movie «Pollyanna» is not a standard of masculinity.

It is important not to wear rose-colored glasses all the time, and be a flexible optimist, as Seligman calls it. This means that the world must see soberly, it is appropriate to respond and to use the right account at the right time, not allowing pessimism to make yourself helpless.

Repeat the basics

I have two news: good and bad. Will start with the bad. It lies in the fact that pessimistic style of explanation can very negatively affect your life. The good news: you have the power to change it. And it’s as simple as recite the alphabet. You remember his friend? Let’s see how to react to life’s setbacks.

Misfortune: we are faced with setbacks and challenges.

Emotional perception: our thoughts, feelings, and interpretation of setbacks. They lead to the next item.

Implications: How we behave, in the light of their thoughts and emotii caused by failures.

We can’t change the first point. But we can change the second and then third. Not own unhappiness cause our reaction and our thoughts and feelings about these misfortunes. If your thoughts and feelings lead you to adverse reactions that are pulling you down, you need to change them by changing your perception of these failures. Here is an example.

The thing: Joe often goes to a coffee shop because the girl he likes. In the end Bob decided to come to her, and she rebuffs.

Emotional perception: Bob thinks: «Here I’m the loser. I’m ugly and I have nothing to offer women. I’ll never get a girlfriend.»

Consequences: Bob or depressed or angry until the end of the week. Then for a year he will not be able who to approach.

Wasini thoughts and emotions regarding this event is the most pessimistic style of explanation.

Argue with yourself

If you think something, doesn’t mean that the way it is. Even if you used to think so. Misconceptions limit your ability to solve problems and find for them the right decisions. If you have any thoughts that undermine your strength, you need to think about it, argue with myself, to challenge them. Dr. Seligman recommends splitting these thoughts into four groups. Let’s rate them and see how Bob could cope with his failure.

1. Data. What actually happened? Other facts confirm your thoughts or deny them?

Bob might think: «I’m not a loser, and MSU student, I’m Superman, I will have a prestigious job».

2. Alternatives. Pessimists have a tendency to resort to the worst ways of explaining the situation, ignoring the positive aspects.

Bob might think: «Maybe she has a boyfriend, so she blew me off. Maybe she just got out of a heavy relationship. Perhaps it did not depend on me.»

3. Consequences When pessimists are faced with failure, they imagine the disastrous consequences. But can this disaster really happen?

Bob might think: «I just kicked the girl in the cafe, but that doesn’t mean I’m not destined to find a girlfriend. I had a friend and will again.»

4. Utility. Even if your thoughts are truthful, it does not mean that they are useful. Constantly gravitate towards useless thoughts — not the best choice, which is unlikely to help you change your life for the better.

Bob might think: «Yeah, I’m not Alain Delon. But women can see past looks. I’m not very confident in myself, and friends I love confident dudes. That is something I need to work. It is much more important than any beauty.»

When you face failure, try to act according to this scheme. Argue with him, contributions to the pessimistic himself on the blades and see how actually things are. It would be good even to write it in a diary, if you have it, it will help you for the future. And in such cases it is useful to talk with a close friend or wife. To tell how upset you are, ask them to discuss with you your failures and find out how adequate the rating you give to them.

First, you will be hard to stop your negative reactions and work on their mindset, but over time it will become natural. You start it is appropriate to react and think positively. Good luck, man!

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