Society And Learned Helplessness


There is this psychological phenomena I have recently learned about called Learned Helplessness. It’s a very interesting thing that I feel like I’ve actually been working to overcome, lately. Basically, what it is, is the mental state of being forced to endure painful or unpleasant stimuli, so much so that when given an opportunity to escape it, you just accept it something you cannot change.

While this concept is mostly tied to animal behavior, dogs are actually a popular test subject for this phenomena; I do believe it applies to humans as well, especially when society gets involved.


I have a friend, a lot of stuff has happened in her life over the course of the last two to three years, a lot of negative outcomes that she just didn’t have any control over. This friend became a victim of her own negativity and just learned to accept it all as unavoidable. She’s only just starting to figure out ways to escape that way of thinking.

When you don’t have control over something, it’s not uncommon to just accept that’s just the way things are and there’s absolutely nothing you can do. While I understand that “it is what it is” mentality, I feel like it’s a dangerous mentality to settle into, especially when you’re subject to a lot of negativity in your life.


Now, I am lucky. While I did have to face a lot of negativity in life when I was growing up, I was eventually taken out of the bad environment, when I moved in with my grandma at age 14. While I have been affected by several negative impacts over the years, mostly in the more recent years, I can’t really say my life is full of negativity. Not in the same way as my friend, anyways.

I am pretty sure I’ve touched on this before, the way my grandma wanted to shelter me from the world. Her ways of doing so were very effective, and while I understand her want to protect me, it did kind of render me helpless… and it was something I had learned to live with and accept while she was alive.


Society also has this way of making people settle for less and learn to live with what they’re given rather than reach for more and be apart of something bigger than themselves. My former teacher and I were kind of discussing this when we went out for lunch on Sunday, how society tends to expect people to fit in some mold and if you don’t fit in that mold, it makes it impossible to really fit in with society and do things that should be simple, such as getting a good job.

What a lot of people don’t realize though, is that while there are a lot of professions with a strict guideline on how to make it – med school for doctors, law school for lawyers, veterinary school for veterinarians, etc… those jobs you do need help to make the career possible. There is a much larger amount of careers where you really have to find a way to do it yourself, there is no set-in-stone way of getting there and being successful. Society makes you feel like you’re not in control, and you feel like you need to reach out and look for help from other people to get that control.

With the many career paths in which you have to find your own way, you can’t really rely on society or other people to help. Taking it in your own hands is often the only way anything will ever get done, and I feel like that’s what all this is about. My venturing out into the world, building my own career, not giving a fuck what society wants out of me anymore, or what other people want out of me. I don’t want to be victim of this phenomena or a victim of society’s games. I want to live my life and have complete control over my own destiny.


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