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Andrei Calazans

How To Avoid Learned Helplessness Syndrome?

/ 2 min read

Are you always asking for help? Does the task at hand feel completely overwhelming and you don’t know where to begin or what to do? You could be suffering of “learned helplessness”.

Learned helplessness is a state that occurs after a person has experienced a stressful situation repeatedly. They come to believe that they are unable to control or change the situation, so they do not try — even when opportunities for change become available.


Programming has a lot of discovery and continuous learning. While you could later face common and repetitive tasks, being able to deal with the new and unknown is vital to becoming a better developer.

The best developers I have worked with were the ones who in the face of complete unknowns they were persistent to research and figure things out.

The worst developers I have worked with were the ones who in the face of complete unknowns they give up, always ask for help without trying, and fail to research things.

You can find the counter-argument for beginners to not fear asking for help. And I agree with this, however, asking for help needs to be the aftermath of first trying without it.

What does it mean to try without help?

It means trying. Trying to understand what you don’t know. Funneling down the problem to where it really is. Explaining it to yourself. Looking up what is going on or trying to find similar solutions in other places. There are a lot of things you can do before you ask for help.

Approach problems with a first princicples mentatlity.

The cost of not trying

When you don’t try you don’t effectively learn. The more connections you make the more you can remember it. The more you rely on others to just tell you the answer the less likely you are to remember. We often confuse similarity with understanding

I want to write more about the topic of diving into the unknown. My developer career has been full of experiences of feeling completely hopeless but not giving up and finally figuring things out.