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And, yes, I DO take it personally: The spirit of Occupy kicks "learned helplessness" to the curb
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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The spirit of Occupy kicks "learned helplessness" to the curb

given my penchant for pattern recognition and the work that i do with complex systems, i learned to recognize the dynamic of learned helplessness almost twenty-five years ago... i first ran into it, interestingly enough, while working on my own issues when i had to confront a deep-seated belief about not being able to change myself... once i was able to get past that barrier, i opened up to a much bigger playing field in working with organization change... i could see that much of the resistance of people to doing things differently - and, hopefully, better - springs from that same belief system which, loosely described, says, "what's the use, nothing's going to change, why bother...?"

in the process of discovering that "helplessness" is a belief system, i also discovered that, like most belief systems, it isn't genetic, it's learned, which, in turn, led to the realization that complex systems (families, corporations, governments, organizations of all types) often consciously or unconsciously promote feelings of helplessness...

as my learning continued to expand, i began to see how feelings of helplessness were often deliberately fostered by those whose power and influence depended on the compliance and passivity of those over whom they exercised that power... i also began to realize how complicit we all are - or certainly can be - in abdicating the power we have as our birthright...

we are constantly implored to give up our power to teachers, bosses, police, politicians, government officials, scientists and experts of all stripes who, we are told, know more about what's good for us than we do or, worse yet, portray themselves as having access to power and authority that we don't have access to and probably never will... in the course of this brainwashing, we eventually lose sight of the fact that our power is something that is ours by birth and that giving it away is a choice, maybe not a choice we consciously make, but a choice nonetheless...

i've been involved with "empowerment" efforts in organizations which i've always thought were misnamed since the whole notion of "empowering" someone smacks of condescension, implying giving something to someone to whom it belonged in the first place... however, the term does have a positive ring to it and i haven't been able to come up with one i like better... "empowerment" is even featured on my business cards...

moving to reclaim our power is a heady experience... as the article snippet below states, it's positively "liberating," the term relating back to"liberation theology" and "liberation psychology"... when people move to take back their power, is it any wonder that the catholic church came down so hard on clergy in latin america who were pushing "liberation theology"...? is it any wonder that the 1% are so determined to squash the occupy movement...? people reclaiming their power scares the shit out of those who think they should have it all...

bruce levine in alternet...

Liberation psychology, unlike mainstream psychology, questions adjustment to the societal status quo, and it energizes oppressed people to resist all injustices. Liberation psychology attempts to discover how demoralized people can regain the energy necessary to take back the power that they had handed over to illegitimate authorities.

The Occupy movement has tapped into the energy supply that many oppressed and exploited people ultimately discover. We discover it when we come out of denial that we are a subjugated people. We discover just how energizing it can be to delegitimize oppressive institutions and authorities. And when these oppressive authorities react violently to peaceful resistance, their violence validates their illegitimacy—and provides us with even more energy.

With liberation psychology, we no longer take seriously the elite’s rigged games that had sucked us in and then sucked the energy out of us. We move beyond denial and depression that the U.S. electoral process is a rigged game, an exercise in learned helplessness in which we are given the choice between politicians who will either (1) screw us, or (2) screw us. We begin to engage in other “battlegrounds for democracy.”

it's a very good article and worth reading in its entirety...

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