Following in the footsteps of my previous posts on Risk and Barriers which were inspired by Ramit's post here , I thought I would talk a bit about that wonderful friend called learned helplessness. I thought our friend was worthy of a post after reading Casey Serin's post where he talks about all of the reasons why he doesn't want to rent his properties out to try to avoid foreclosure and make some of his mortgage payments. You can see he spends a lot more time talking about the potential down sides of renting out the houses, but not much time considering the benefits! My comment is burried in there somewhere.
Learned Helplessness is an affliction that affects all of us to a certain extent, at one time, or another, in our lives. However, in some cases, the condition mimics paralysis, imposing restrictions upon oneself that feel very real. Learned helplessness is difficult to diagnose. It has been suggested that it is related to clinical depression, and no wonder, if I didn't think I could solve any of life's problems, I'd be depressed too!
So, why am I writing about this topic? Well, it seems to me that many people find themselves feeling helpless at one time or another. I am often confronted with people who put up barriers to any problem. I can't do that because of these 20 mostly irrational reasons. Or people who are constantly asking you to help them with the same problem even though you gave them documentation for reference that would tell them exactly how to do it if they would just take five seconds to read!
I think people like this can't help but have their every-day decisions, and especially their investment decisions clouded by negative thoughts and feelings. It is very unfortunate. I suggested that Casey Serin is suffering from a form of learned helplessness. In a post , Casey was asking whether he should rent out one of the many homes he owns that are facing foreclosure. However, after posing the question, he went on to describe many different reasons why the idea was not good, and none of the benefits of renting out the house.
How can this be overcome? I suppose a thorough analysis of any problem should help you to decide on the correct course of action. However, I think the best thing is to be aware of what they call negative self-talk. When you put yourself down, or find yourself expressing the negative aspects of a problem, you're mind goes to sleep. Some people do a great job of convincing themselves that they are dumb, or their ideas will never work, and thus… they don't do anything.
So… get out there and try something. Read Escape from Cubicle Nation for some inspiration.