The Failings of “Self-Help”

(Miss Pink Slip)

The truth of life lies in the middle, not upon the edges.

Many people as of late tell me things like: “stay positive” and “look on the bright side of life.” What I hear in these well-meaning words is: “stay deluded” and “ignore things you don’t like.”

Telling someone like myself to “stay positive” is much the same as telling me to “stay negative.”

The truth is most people saying such things have absorbed flawed and profit-oriented “self-help” notions that fulfill only the most basic and simplistic concepts while neglecting the raw and often cold truth of existence in the modern world.

Telling people that life rarely works out the way you want it to and that misery is a vital element of life as well as pain being instrumental in personal growth is hardly what people want to hear when they already know much of misery, loneliness and emotional pain.

Telling people, falsely, that listening to you will cure them of their insecurities and personal failings is exactly what people trying to break free of the doldrums of their daily lives want to be told.

My brand of “self-help” will likely never catch on because it doesn’t excuse you from taking responsibility for the world around you and where you fit into it.

The fact is, the people like myself who dissect and analyze everything before them cannot be effected by these flat platitudes and narrow definitions of living our lives.

These “sunny dispositions” touted by many are just a means of excusing that which is unjust and a method by which social tyranny is bound to spread under.

There is a strong desire in many to be “lifted up” by a “guru” who holds all the answers, and I realize these days that I am that “guru.” But this guru doesn’t care to wrap you up in fuzzy blankets of feel-good notions and instead seeks to destroy delusion while cultivating critical thinking.

This is not what those seeking “self-help” wanted to hear.

As my ex-girlfriend recently screamed at me over the phone: “I like it simple!”

She is right, in so far as that my personal ethic is not some quick little program to follow like a robot repeating a repetitive task or a dog barking on command.

People might have to exercise their brains if they wanted me to be their “guide on the journey of life.” One might have to make a decision entirely on their own judgment without preconceived patterns dictating their response.

In essence: you have three choices.

You can be negative, apathetic or positive.

I make no judgments as to which you choose, but I do ask people see that they made the decision in the first place.

What concerns me is that which is the greatest failing of mainstream self-help. That being your true, genuine and honest feelings and the nature of complete imperfection of self being not only ordinary but in fact more healthy than the denial found in purely optimistic stances.

This denial of self promoted by mainstream self-help is, in my opinion, destructive to a healthy psychology.

I say people need to be contented with eating stale bread if they want to be truly happy in the here and now. I say “manifesting your destiny” is a false notion that originates from people who know little or nothing of loss and dashed ambitions.

Some people live their whole lives without ever finding love or realizing even the most minor of their dreams. Perhaps you are one of those people. If so you would probably rather talk to me than those who accuse you of creating disappointment and failure by value of what a poor person you are in attitude and / or mentality.

Some listen to me speak and conclude that it is my sole mission to depress you into submission to my version of reality.

I would contest that it is more a matter of reality and truth themselves that are highly unpopular, more than it is something native to my psyche or message.

Statements like “love is never enough” and “God wants you to think for yourself” will never beat out statements like “love is all you need” and “just obey the Bible and then God is happy.”

Positive thinking is no more than a tool to combat negative thinking and I would never advocate against positive thinking itself. What I advocate against is delusional thinking and herein lies the gray area that quickly destroys my popular appeal and makes for the divide between myself and most every other person who ever spoke of these matters in public.

Also, some of my ideals are highly unpopular in “New Age” thinking.

Shame, guilt and regret are vital to good personal ethics and if we live in a situation bereft of these there is no consequence for our own ill behavior and the harm we do to others in the course of our lives.

The moment I heard the words “I don‘t have any regrets about the time we spent together” from my ex-girlfriend is the same moment I realized that we had grown so far apart in these years away from each other that the gap is completely unbridgeable.

Not all mainstream self-help holds fast to these destructive levels of personal delusion, it is important to point out.

One example is Dr. Wayne Dyer.

The concept of “excuses no more” is something I can stand behind fully.

This quote sums up what I like about Dr. Dyer:

If you tell yourself it is going to impossible and extremely hard to do something then you are setting yourself up for failure and if you look at it from the perspective of it being easy and completely possible then even if you don‘t succeed you at least gave yourself the best chance of getting what you want.”

That is where positive thinking and attitudes have their real value. You can increase your chances of success by taking a optimistic outlook and may well destroy that same chance with negative thinking but it is still just a matter of chance and circumstance more than any amount of “manifested destiny” at play.

Furthermore, I am a person that believes that more is gained by failure than by success in almost every personal situation. Or rather that is to say that more is learned by failing than is learned by succeeding.

What we must fight against is living static and / or delusional lives. Promoting this false notion that we all can have what we want or that we will all find fulfillment in this life will only lead a certain number of people to a dejected dead end that no “self-help guru“ can properly address.

Whereas my unpopular and mainly rejected ideas leave no one behind or out in the cold anymore than I myself am.

I guess I have to write a book about this…

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7 thoughts on “The Failings of “Self-Help”

  1. I disagree…….life really is what you make of it.Some people take the “stay positive” advice as “stay deluded” but thats just being very stupid (sorry:P) if your car breaks down u cant be like “oh thats ok itll start working in a few seconds” …not gunna happen.What you have to do is NOT BE NEGATIVE ! as in dont say “oh no my car broke down im gunna be late for work thatll add to my record ,i might get fired ” thought come and go in seconds so in one second u can think a billion bad things! insted of focusing on stuff like that its better to just keep a straight mind and FIX the damn car. i like what u say about yourself being the “guru” u are the guru and u can wrap urself in warm fuzzy blankets! dude u seem like a very instense mind just brighten it up in there 🙂

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  3. Well thank you very much but I think you are misunderstanding me. I am saying that I am indeed tackling my negative attitude and when I am not doing so hot every seems to assume that I don’t know that it’s better to just focus on fixing the car than being upset that it’s broken in the first place. My point lies within validation of these feelings of frustration, if they truly exist, rather than reacting harshly or becoming exasperated by value of them.

    That’s my “guru” right there…

    Like I said, I should write a book about this and see if I could get it published. I’m sure they would call it the “anti self-help self-help book” but if you read what I wrote I said that I use positive thinking to combat negative and I’m making more a psychological argument here than a social one: negative stimuli as a reality to be endured but it should never be allowed so consuming that it is impossible to function (fix the damn car!) in the process. For some, the only thing that they can do is write a very “black & white” telling of the complexity of personal growth and for some people it is the only thing that works for them.

    I respect the difference in opinion, is what I’m saying. I don’t want to throw out a “deluded” label onto anyone else more so much as I’m trying to say when people tell me that it doesn’t resonate because I’m a “preacher for balance,” or whatever.

    I’m just kind of joking about the “guru” thing…

    🙂

  4. Damn, that sound’s so easy if you think about it.

  5. I cannot believe this will work!

  6. Great idea, but will this work over the long run?

  7. @roulett:

    What is? Be specific.

    @ruletka:

    Well I’d have to write the book first…

    @system:

    Well … it’s a good question. My problem with “self-help” is exactly that, I think I provide the alternative mode-of-thought. Balance instead of false-purity. Negative emotions must go somewhere, and people are taught to suppress them. I’m not so sure that is a good “long run” policy, myself.

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