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…

You Only Have Three Choices

There are endless possibilities within contemplation and creative expression. An infinite number of ways to view, reflect, express and ponder.

But as to the confines of reacting to our environment there seem to be only three options. Only three choices.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

{+ Positive +  ( = Neutral = )  – Negative -}

{+ Creation +  ( = Equilibrium = )  – Destruction -}

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Let’s use an every-day example:

You wanted to go on a bike ride today. Unpredicted heavy rains have come to your area and are not expected to leave for several days.

In a positive outlook, this is a chance to catch up on reading, housework or perhaps to spend time with friends and family.

In a neutral outlook, this rain has no effect on your day and you may go ride your bike anyway or you may stay indoors due to the rain and both events are equally desirable to you.

In a negative outlook, this rain has ruined your day and no matter what activity you engage in you will resent deeply that fact that you are not riding your bike.

The ‘bike riding’ example is more or less what we most often from motivational speakers and self-help books. The concept that if you change your outlook on life you can attain happiness in your life now, instead of waiting for the perfect job or the perfect mate to fill that hole.

I don’t fully subscribe to this logic. I see all people as first and foremost human beings. And human beings have all three of these reactionary options available to them no matter what choices they have made prior to this moment in time.

I don’t condone negative and destructive behaviors, but I see them entirely human acts to commit.

I don’t condone utter apathy and ignorance of your emotions, but I know most have strong and often private reasons for behaving as such.

And finally I don’t support viewing all the world and your part in it as purely positive and affirming. We must strive for such a goal, must reach toward such heights without pause or question. But to believe we are not flawed nor perfectly capable of destruction and causing pain unto others is a flawed perspective.

I see a lot of people using different words to describe the same thing.

I say positive and negative, someone else says ‘evil’ and ‘good.’

I say creation and destruction, someone else says ‘angels’ and ‘demons.’

In my mind it is all the same elements expressed in different fashions. Humans trying to paint a picture using symbols but failing to recognize the source of these ‘evils.’

We are the source. We drew the line in the sand that says what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong.’ Whatever religious beliefs a person might have there is a serious need to recognize that negative elements in all societies such as greed, hatred, violence and slander are acts committed by human beings.

My perspective allows no one to excuse their unkind and hostile behavior as acceptable in any way. I only seek to point out that all of us work within the same confines of human emotion and human irrationality. Rather than try to define our species as something it is not and never was, a perfect race.