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The best way to battle discovered helplessness at work

June
30, 2020

Read for 9 min

The opinions expressed by the entrepreneurs' contributors are their own.

We all get into a crisis every now and then. But what if you can't throw yourself out of this crisis? If you get into a similar emotion – or if you keep giving up your dreams – this could be an indication of learned helplessness. I don't know the answers, but I do know that this is a situation to be fought against. As an entrepreneur, manager and employer, I have seen evidence of learned helplessness at work, among those who are important to me and with whom I am connected.

COVID-19 says we're all there together. The riots said that we're all there together. We can help each other in the workplace if you see someone with learned helplessness.

Coined by psychologist Martin Seligman in the late 1960s after controversial studies with dogs and electric shocks, the test subjects gave up hope in an uncontrollable situation. For example, Seligman "exposed the study participants to loud, unpleasant noises with a lever that would stop the noises or not," people at Psychology Today write. "The group whose lever would not stop the sound in the first round stopped suppressing the noise in the second round."

At some point, we have all experienced a similar feeling in our lives, including the workplace. Whether it's a rotten culture, unrealistic job expectations, or complex issues like time management, the feeling of helplessness doesn't just affect your performance and productivity. It can also harm your health and well-being by contributing to anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic disorders.

The good news? You don't have to feel that way. In fact, you can defend yourself against learned helplessness to get back on track and keep your health and wellbeing at bay.

Unlearn learned helplessness.

"Helplessness is a form of conditioning," explains the Psychology Compass team. “If something is strengthened / rewarded, we are more likely to repeat this behavior again. And if we are punished, we are more likely to avoid the same behavior in the future. "

It takes time to unlearn this association and decondition the answer, but it is doable. In fact, you can help yourself or a colleague by pointing out the following three methods:

Identify your style of explanation. First of all, you need to determine whether you are more optimistic or pessimistic. A learned optimism test can help you figure this out. The goal is to "change the way you look at the causes of events in your life." Use the ABC method. Next you want to use this strategy to change your interpretation of negative situations. Use the following step-by-step help process: A – Adversity; B – belief; C – consequence; D – disputation; E-energization can help you react optimistically. You have more control by being SMART. The third and final step is to make S.M.A.R.T. Goals to keep you motivated.

Relatives: You can reprogram yourself to be a positive person and you should

Take action.

"What we know from research is that one of the biggest triggers of fear is feeling helpless when everything seems to be out of your control," says Dr. Kerry Ressler, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. An effective way to regain control is to give it back. If you weren't aware of this, volunteering has several advantages, including: B. Improving your health and wellbeing, connecting with others and adding meaning to your life.

Other ideas are to help others solve problems, take up a hobby or learn something new. All of this gives you the feeling of being active as opposed to being passive. And because it makes you feel like you're moving forward, you have a better sense of control.

If you are unsatisfied with your career or fear that your job is at risk, you should be proactive. Use your downtime to improve your resume or develop new skills. You can also network more often with influencers in your industry.

Focus on solutions, not problems.

One of the main reasons why I decided to restrict my use of social media is that I couldn't take the complaint. I don't want to come across here as a callus. It is clear to me that some people have no other way of getting information on Facebook, Twitter or any of their preferred platforms.

I also don't mind helping others. However, I noticed a particularly worrying trend. Whenever advice was offered, the complainant simply refused or apologized for why the suggestions did not work. In short, they didn't want help. They just wanted to complain.

So how can you prevent your thoughts from going negative? "Don't just respond, take the time to fully analyze the problem, and then make a list of possible solutions," recommends Dr. Ivan Misner.

And since this is often easier said than done, here is a simple process by Dr. Misner to help you get started:

Identify the problems. Identify what you did previously in a similar problem. Start possible solutions. Change what doesn't work. Find and use resources. Decide which solution is the best. Add this solution in playBuild for each step to achieve the required results

Related topics: When you face adversity, focus on solutions, not other problems

Enclose dark moods, but don't stick to negative thoughts.

Forcing yourself to be happy can have the opposite effect. At least, this was discovered by a study conducted at UC Berkeley and published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

"We have found that people who usually accept their negative emotions experience fewer negative emotions, which leads to better mental health," wrote lead study author Iris Mauss, an associate professor of psychology at UC Berkeley.

"If you have an accepting attitude towards negative emotions, you may not pay as much attention to them," said Mauss. "And if you constantly evaluate your emotions, the negativity can increase."

"It turns out that how we deal with our own negative emotional responses is very important to our overall wellbeing," added study director Brett Ford, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. "People who accept these emotions without judging or changing them can manage their stress more successfully."

At the same time, thinking about negative thoughts can also be a problem. Do these thoughts or feelings help you solve a problem, for example, or do they affect your health and well-being? If it is the latter, you must leave this vicious cycle.

There are many ways to do this. But here, too, it is not about neglecting your helplessness. It recognizes them and uses them to your advantage.

The following prevents me from getting involved in the negative:

Block worry or ruminant times. Determine what can be solved or just an invention of your imagination. Concentrate on the goals you want to achieve. Don't waste time and energy on things you can't control.

I also try to find happiness. That doesn't mean putting on a fake smile. It's more about raising my mood when I need it:

Practice gratitude – write in a diary or say "thank you". Take a long walk outside with my dog. Listen to music. Put my strengths to the test. Improve my work area by investing in a standing desk and plants. The right lighting, the environment with personal items and healthy snacks also help.

Don't be anti-social.

In addition to personalizing your work area, using your work environment and work culture can also help combat the helplessness you have learned. For example, instead of having lunch alone, take a bite with a colleague. You can also suggest team building activities or social events after work.

Another idea would be to plan walking or standing instead of sitting down. Exercise not only ensures that the meeting is short and concise, but also brings oxygen to the brain. You can also ask for feedback or offer it to others.

And if there are colleagues you don't get along with, look for alternatives. If you are in a leadership position, it can mean that you release them when they are toxic. If you are not a leader, ask if you can move to another part of the office or join a different group.

Most importantly, if you need to speak to someone, please do so. Whether it's a family member, friend, colleague, or therapist, you just know that you don't have to do this alone.

Use intrinsic motivation.

Did you know that there are two types of motivation? The first is "extrinsic" (or external). An example of this would be to receive a promotion or bonus by adhering to a deadline. The second is "intrinsic" (or internal). Learning a new skill or hobby during your downtime is a typical example of this type as you strive for personal satisfaction or performance.

In other words, extrinsic motivation often depends on “if, then” rewards. While there are times when these can be effective motivators, researchers have found that they can degrade performance.

Therefore, you should focus on intrinsic motivation. An excellent starting point would be the three elements that are necessary for the inherent motivation of the author Dan Pink: autonomy, mastery and purpose. Don't sweat when you hit all three. The idea is to use them to find and create opportunities.

Related: How To Stay Motivated (Even If You Really Don't Want To)

Change your situation.

Let's say your helplessness is caused by feeling overwhelmed by your workload. They admitted this and looked for solutions, e.g. B. Prioritize your lists. Unfortunately, you still feel underwater.

If so, you may need to dig deeper. Which tasks can be automated, delegated or removed? Are there meeting alternatives such as email or a quick call? Are you more productive at home or in the office?

What if you have answered all of these questions and nothing has changed? It may be time to leave your current green pasture job.

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