On learned helplessness

One has to agree that it’s stupid to discuss the sublime with someone hungry or suffering. It is strange to offer philosophic ideas to a man who walks barefoot and his feet hurt.

It’s a common knowledge that during wars and financial crises it’s not easy to deliver employees’ constructive confrontation or long-term motivation ideas through joint work on their professional goals. It looks counter-intuitive, but that is exactly what gives outstanding results, in our opinion.

Is it OK to think about education right now? The answer is not as obvious as it sounds.

We thoroughly studied the idea, simple and obvious at first glance: to be fine here and now, as well as in the future, – you should avoid overloading yourself with unnecessary information and instead load your brain with work, providing strategic superiority in the future.

Today we want to return to this simple idea and twist it towards the behavioral patterns, professed to us by the incoming information flow.

Automatic brain reaction to the incoming information

Learned helplessness as a result of brainwashing of the masses

Different reactions and behavior give different results

We constantly hear and read: the less developed segments of society are easy to control. When there is lack of truthful information, it’s easy to throw in a truth-like one to control the masses. Crisis does not pop up on its own, it’s created and launched.

Why does it happen? What to do with it? Why is it so important to not just study, but to learn how to act, especially now? Are we the masses after all? What if it has nothing to do with us?

Let’s take human brain (not literally, of course, just as a model). Whatever happens to us, part of the brain functions are realized automatically: it’s faster and more rewarding evolutionally – as while a person would think about ways to analyze the truck’s movement rushing at him/her, the outcome would be inevitable.

Evolution trained our brain to divide everything happening into three vectors:

Active – passive (it’s approaching or fixed in space)

Dangerous – safe (fight/flight or not)

Useful – useless – (keep or throw away)

Biologically it’s a minimum set of the automatic analysis reactions, enabling the survival of a biological species. It all seems simple and working just fine. The problem is that it works automatically. Which means it can be used to control your brainwork from the outside.

Make the event active and dangerous to activate the brain’s automatic analyzers, and then manipulate the event’s description to convince the brain that the situation is useful (i.e. relevant to the person) – and you can create required chains of events to be processed by this individual’s brain, and guide it in the desired direction.

Where do we come across current active and dangerous events constantly? Right – in the news! However, if previously we mainly watched news on TV, nowadays the majority of the progressive people switched to another means of consuming the news – social networks. And if we previously soaked up TV news, that became unreliable with time, now we get news through the highly trustworthy channel – our newsfeed. If we previously listened to hosts we didn’t know in person, now we get news from our friends, whom we know and thus trust much more.

Choosing who to listen to on TV, we could easily switch the channel – no one would notice it from their side. And to exclude a friend from your feed is a socially meaningful act. They can get hurt. But what if friends keep posting news about politics and crisis, war and dollar rate?

In medical psychology, there is a term “induced psychosis.” For example, if a single woman has to take care of her clinically insane mother, whether she wants it or not, she is affected by delusional ideas and speculations of the latter. As she is forced to listen. And within a half-year or so, this woman can drop her own views and opinions, and start adopting and supporting her mother’s delusions. Like “If cigarette producers put something addictive into them, it’s possible that sausage manufacturers do the same…”

Sounds crazy? From the medical point of view – yes.

And what if all your friends spoke about the crisis and dollar rate as a conspiracy of a stronger state’s government – would this become… important?

The negative view of the events and “mindset of a fly,” unlike “mindset of a bee” don’t need much energy. Reposting unchecked information, accompanied by an emotional personal comment is a matter of two-three clicks. And we let this “information” flow into our brain, and the latter tries to filter and analyze it automatically. Automatically. Thanks, evolution!

Just think about it, it’s like we quit one drug to switch to another one, which is even stronger. Earlier we filtered what we saw on TV and didn’t trust TV hosts, and now we take tons of information from our friends, whom we trust a lot.

And our brain just analyses. It’s capable of it. What it can’t do however – is stay idle. Nature have given us a powerful tool for analyzing information. But it’s our choice what to present for analysis. You can give it structured data on how to work and earn more, how to make your work better and get more interesting and complex tasks from the “business-employee” system. Or you can just leave it to process empty information from the news (devoid of any useful outcome), burning out your “engine’s” resource on a trashy fuel.

But it’s only the first part of the problem. In the same section of psychology we come across a term “learned helplessness.”

Scrolling through news, one receives a huge array of negative information, which is processed and sorted by one’s brain. But naturally, after such an analysis, there should be a reaction – flee or fight? And what does one do upon watching news on TV (ok, we don’t WATCH TV news anymore as we have changed the “dealer”)? Right, one does nothing. So, you get a stimulus – danger, crisis, war, so you NEED to watch it! Everything is hell. It concerns everyone! It’s terrible! NEED TO WATCH! But this is happening outside one’s circle of influence (you can’t really influence dollar rate), the problem is detached geographically, it’s about OTHER people. So there is nothing you can do. Constant repetition gives you a steady reaction: do nothing. There’s nothing you can do, you are helpless. So you’ve been taught. Just sit and absorb.

On the other hand, let’s take the brain as a working object, a part of a bigger system – first it accelerates for analysis, and then abruptly hits the brakes of inaction. The accelerator – the brakes, the accelerator – the brakes.What happens to an engine in such a mode for a couple of years?

Back to the thought that people can train their brains to act one way or another. To train and retrain, in case the chosen cognitive model turns out ineffective.

Disengage from it for a moment. As if you are advising someone acting just like you. Are those news of any help? Fewer traffic jams? Projects finally meet deadlines? You got smarter studying the dollar downfall? Will your value increase at the labor market tomorrow with all this fascinating new experience? Did you get a more exciting task or project out of this hour-long news analysis on the internet?

This habit our feeding your brain with emotionally “tasty” but useless news is not healthy. Quit it.

Now let’s go back to where we started today. We’re trying to not just provide you with the study material. We’re learning and also teaching you to accumulate your development investments. So that your personal growth input would capitalize down the line to give you completely new results.

Interested in getting something you never had before? Start doing something you have never done before. Others are hunching along and repeating “crisis”? You can use this time to develop competitiveness at work and business. If you want to learn to act differently – start acting differently.

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