There is a psychological side-effect of never having control over your own environment; it's called "learned helplessness." A psychologist named Martin Seligman first discovered it in dogs who were perpetually set up for failure in the lab. The more intelligent the dog, the more easily the dog would recognize that he was trapped in a cage and would never be free. Once the dog understood he could never win his freedom, no matter what he did, the dog stopped trying. The door to the cage could even be left wide open, and the dog wouldn't even attempt to leave. You see, the dog had learned that trying only resulted in failure. Over and over and over again. So, why bother? Failure was going to happen eventually....
Seligman was able to reverse learned helplessness through constant positive reinforcement. However, the dogs had to first be removed from the lab environment; the animals could not see or hear or smell the humans who had set them up for consistent failure. Once removed from the people, places and things that made the dogs feel like victims, the dogs behaved differently. But, if the dogs were brought back to the place where they were held captive and taught to be a victim, they became nearly catatonic, sinking back into a state of learned helplessness.
Seligman realized this happened to humans, too. People with limited choices because of poverty, lack of education, gender, ethnicity, etc. often learned that, no matter what they did to improve their lives, society would find a way to hold them down and back. Learned helplessness is connected to things like Stockholm Syndrome, the institutionalization of prisoners, and, codependency. Keeping people vulnerable pacifies them. Silences their voices. Addiction is the inevitable result of vulnerability. But your art is the key to your freedom. To your empowerment.
You are unable to leave your cage, even when the door is wide open. Now, you know why. It's part of your positionality--your unique place in this world. Just like the dogs in Seligman's experiment, you can unlearn the helplessness you feel. You look at this blog and you pray and you try so hard. So hard.
Your prayers have been heard. Here are the messages I've been asked to deliver:
1. You are loved beyond measure. And, you are never alone.
2. You need to raise yourself up. That means you must overcome the drag of your karmic debts--like allowing yourself to be used/abused and finding the strength to ask for help. You have more than paid for your mistakes in other lifetimes and it is now the moment for you to move forward in this one. It is also time for you to love yourself, first and foremost. In order to do that, you need to leave behind the negatives (both people and places). Begin to imagine a future full of happiness and love and light. Move toward that future each and every day. Progress is still progress, no matter how slow. Or, small.
Learn who you are, what you want and what you need. Your life is yours. Stop living it for others. That's a sign of self-loathing, self-punishment and yes, self-sabotage--all part of learned helplessness. Instead, learn to have hope and faith once again.
I believe in you. Still. Always.
3. You feel guilt and shame for the bad things you've done; take responsibility. It will help you feel empowered. I want you to go on and live your best life. I don't want you to be stuck. Negatives surface to be cleared. So, clear them. And move on.
4. Educate. No excuses. No justifications for why x, y, z will eventually lead to failure. You will not fail. You have the tools. Remember that you are not alone. When you feel like defeat is imminent, think of my light and you will find the strength you need.
Will there be obstacles? Yes, there will. That is part of physical life. But every obstacle you face can be removed...you just have to believe there is a way around it. And, there is. There's always a way. That's what my light is for. Yours, too. But until you find your own, you can use as much of mine as you need.
There it is. Your miracle. Your sign. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Everything will be okay.
Nothing will be handed to you though. You have to work for it. Take responsibility. That's your biggest self-imposed obstacle. In some ways, it's mine, too.
We have the strength we need to make positive change, even when we think we don't. Stay uplifted! You're closer to success than you think....
*completed at 11:29 or #229