New research in psychology, specifically by Dr. Stephen Maier, shows that Learned Helplessness is not learned. Instead, the state of helplessness is our default response to a threatening situation—curl up in a ball, protect ourselves, get quiet, and do nothing. As animals, this is our default response in the brain.

HOWEVER, what his research has shown is that there is actually a circuitry in the brain that overrides this helplessness response, stimulating a part of the brain called the dorsal raphe nucleus. Research suggests this circuitry is associated with hope and control, and is now being termed the “hope circuit” by Dr. Martin Seligman. It’s a particular neurological evolution that we’ve developed specifically as human beings.

When we have hope that we can positively impact our future, we override the tendency to fall into helplessness.

So we might now view learned helplessness as an unengaged hope circuit. This is still new research, but it may get you thinking about re-inspiring a sense of hope for a positive future.