“Don’t compromise yourself. You’re all you’ve got.” Janis Joplin
One form of compromise we may face is learned helplessness – an emotional and behavioral response in which a human being (or other animal) has learned to “give up” or act as if they are helpless, and loses motivation to act in their own best interest in a situation, even when they may really have the power to change that circumstance – or at least their reactions to it.
“Clinical depression and related mental illnesses result from a perceived absence of control over the outcome of a situation.” – Martin Seligman, in 1975.
Psychologist and writer Martin Seligman is well known for his work on this idea of “learned helplessness” earlier in his career, but more recently he has become a leader in the field of Positive Psychology, and is author of the book Authentic Happiness.
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The ability to pursue the best life for ourselves, the highest levels of excellence and achievement we want, includes feeling energized and motivated. Having plenty of mojo.
Helplessness is not inevitable. Many people are resilient and thrive. But it is not a simple matter of willful optimism; we need to be aware of the social conditions and our often hidden reactions that can lead to feeling helpless.
In his article “Learned helplessness…”, Bill Harris, director of Centerpointe Research Institute, explains “There is competition for resources at all levels in all living systems, including human and animal communities.
“Built into each system, fairly or unfairly, is a mechanism by which the group automatically withholds or withdraws resources from individuals who ‘fail.’
“What is more, unsuccessful individuals–through internal, built-in, automatic self-destruct mechanisms–withhold resources (positive, life-giving neurochemicals and hormones, for instance, that would cause them to feel and function better) from themselves!
“The resulting condition is sometimes referred to as ‘learned helplessness.’
“When humans (or animals) are able to solve a problem they not only overcome the problem, they also thrive in other ways (some internal and some external) as a result of having encountered and successfully dealt with that problem.”
Harris says his company’s Holosync CD program has the ability to stimulate the production of the ‘success neurochemicals’ that successful people are able to produce, and this “makes it easier to overcome the negative, self-destructive, learned helplessness momentum.”
Continued in my article Learned helplessness, mojo and serenity.
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This photo is from Janis Joplin’s “Pearl” album (released posthumously in 1971), from Facebook.
The official cause of her death was “an overdose of heroin, possibly compounded by alcohol.” [Wikipedia]
Many creative people have had addiction or abuse problems. See my article Addiction and Creative People.
Also see related article Artists and Addiction – quotes by and about Amy Adams, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Edie Falco, Russell Brand, Tatum O’Neal, Johnny Depp, many others.
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In an article on the dynamic singer, Zoë Kessler describes many of the complex qualities of Joplin, and refers to Alice Echols’ biography Scars of Sweet Paradise – the Life and Times of Janis Joplin.
“If Echols’ reporting is accurate, and she says that her book is largely based on over 150 interviews, her biography depicts a hyperactive, charismatic, moody, highly sensitive, undiagnosed ADHDer in full swing.
Kessler adds that Kessler “also lists Janis’s many perceived failures and disappointments, and Janis’s feelings of complete devastation in the face of these. While maintaining an outwardly tough exterior, the portrait of a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) also emerges in this biography.”
From article: ADHD Poster Girl #3: Janis Joplin.
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High sensitivity can lead many of us into self-limiting actions, such as using drugs (including alcohol) as a way to deal with overwhelming sensations and emotions.
That is one kind of self-limiting. But there are more subtle ways we may compromise ourselves as creative and sensitive people, such as not getting adequate medical treatment for challenges like mood disorders.
I experienced all too many years thinking I could deal with my periods of depression and anxiety on my own – or when I did get medications or use individual or group therapy, thinking since I felt better, I could just will myself to keep on keeping on, and work extra hard at whatever job I had – rather than learn more about the causes and related issues like high sensitivity.
Not good strategies for effective personal growth.
One of my motivations in continuing to publish on my multiple sites and social media channels is to help others realize they can really do something to have a better life and be more creatively fulfilled. Conscious self-care can keep us contributing our gifts.
Thanks for reading.
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