Do You Have The Memory of an Elephant?

June 9, 2015

 

When an elephant is young a trainer puts a chain around its leg that restrains its movement. The young elephant will initially try to escape and after a number of futile attempts the elephant  realises that escaping is impossible and gives in to the restraint. From then on the trainer can control the elephant for the rest of his life. All he needs to restrain the elephant is a chain around its leg and a wooden peg in the ground.
 

As the elephant gets older it could now easily pull it out but it doesn’t. The elephant does not do it because it doesn’t THINK that it can. This is called learned helplessness. It is the giving up reaction, the quitting response, that stems from the belief that whatever you do, does not matter. Helplessness = hopelessness.

The first person to do research on learned helplessness was Martin Seligman. He found that when animals were given shocks that they were not able to prevent in any way they tended to react similarly in situations where they could have taken control. He did further research on the subject and found that this type of learned helplessness could apply to humans as well and that it can start as early as infancy. The elephants learn that being chained means being trapped. Never mind the size of the chain or the size of the elephant. Chained meant being stuck. 

"Habits of thinking need not be forever. One of the most significant findings in psychology in the last twenty years is that individuals can choose the way they think"
Martin Seligman


What are the chains that are holding you back? Are you willing to test your strength?

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©Charmaine Pandya www.charmainenlp.com