Self Help Inc - Get Back Your Healthy Fury and Sadness
Submitted On 2009-06-01

Self Help Inc - get back your healthy fury and sadness

Unhappy? Lonely? Looking for love? Fat? Broke?

The 20.000 plus self help titles from the shelves of the bookstores didn't changed much since people are still suicidal, unfulfilled and overweight. Maybe self help literature is not food for mind but drugs for the mind, meant to make your mind drunk with inspiring yet unrealistic ideas.

Pop psychology can be described as an Utopian enterprise inspired by the protest movements of the 1960s and early 1970s. Pop psychology marked a shifting direction from political activism into self-absorption. And self absorbed we become!

Philosopher John Stuart Mill said: "Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so."

And somehow it seems true: don't you think that life used to be simple until we all started to read about how to live it?!

The last 2 decades have rained upon us a plied of self help books. Each of them promises you eternal bliss, reconnection to the healthy rhythm of the universe by unleashing the powers within (pun intended)!

The huge success of self-help is the result of combining two conflicting goals which humans wished for always to unify them in a congruent vision: financial or outward success and religious or inner transcendence - in other words, you can eat your cake and have a transcendental experience on the side too. Sounds yummy, right?!

Self help industry flourished on the background of continuous search for meanings, for ways to attain fulfillment in a society that only creates desires and continuously changing happiness paradigms.

The naked and indecent truth is that we actually need some guilt, we need anger, we need sadness and we need sometimes to stop expressing ourselves - some censorship is healthy. Sounds like blasphemy, I know - but there is always pleasure in sinning.

Self help literature had it's major success because it invited people to celebrate their weaknesses, to reclaim divine rights where only biology and psychology can do something about it.

It is essential as well for our mental health to find the right person to blame - of course that contradicts another tenet of the self help literature that preaches that we always have what we deserve.

And sometimes you may just need to shut up and listen. Must be hard as probably will be a first but stop creating unrealistic hopes repeating to yourself that everything is possible if you frame your mind in the right way and if you dive into the depths of the universe's energies. No, sometimes what you have is as good as it gets, so why not stop worrying, sit back, relax and enjoy what you already have and are?! (Hate me, yet? If not, keep reading, it's getting better).

Let's see which are the main ideas promoted by the gurus of the self help industry:

"Love should not be conditional". Wrong! Love, the most debated idea by the self help books, is not, by all means unconditional. It shouldn't be and in fact it isn't: beside your parents affection, love, trust and respect need to be gained. You are loved because you behave in a certain way, the same as you love someone because she/he is in a certain way. Becoming realistic about the important forces of life will help you more than indulging in unrealistic and utopian ideas.

"Be all that you can be" and "live up to your full potential" . Yes, true, be, but don't try to be more than you can ever be as well. Be real about your gifts, your talents and reach as high as you can to fulfill those, not some unrealistic hopes based on the premises that sky is the limit.

"Nurture and understand your inner child" correlated with "we are all victims". Wrong again Forget your inner child - do not fall pray to the sirens call of victimhood and entitlement - we all had difficult childhoods, more or less. We all had difficulties and interruptions but those are the forces that carved our character and that is life - a cycle of crises and rewards.

Therapy had become the new religion of this society, indulging in psychological enemas with an almost pervert pleasure. Psychoanalysis is one of those tools to help you dig to no means and no ends through your memories - and bank accounts. Memory archeology is so 1980 and the therapeutic effect, if any, it is probably more due to the attention and relationships you establish with psychoanalyst than from the method itself.

"Express your anger". No, do not! For once, swallow it, internalize it and let it be the fuel for future changes. Anger is necessary, as opposed to content which doesn't drive you further unless you are an enlightened (Eckhart Tolle for sure doesn't read my blog, so...). Anger is the reality check we need from time to time. Of course, some of it need to be expressed but keep some inside and feed your inner child with it - will help him become a grown up sooner.

Perhaps the main quality of self help books is that it gives people hope - even if it is irrational, we, humans, seems to have a special appetite for irrationality - it looks like mass psychosis sometimes. We like to share madness toward the most mythical things - divinity, love, meaning, hope.

Self help literature comes to fulfill this niche of the human psyche - the need for hope, the need to elude reality and self delusion.

So you may as well give up on wearing yourself out trying to "be all that we can be" and "living up to your potential". Maybe it will help you to know that some people are natural born happy people. They just won the cortical lottery and their brain chemistry will allow them to manifest a high drive temperament and positive thoughts. Stick that on a post it on your mirror, will make you feel better if some mornings you don't feel like smiling to the universe.

One of the things that makes people so unhappy is that they think that they should and could be so much happier and fulfilled. This new found religion of self- help puts a burden on everyone - you have almost no excuse not to be happy and we are in a kind of race of who shows the most happiness and positive thinking.

The scientific truth though is that we need from time to time to slow down, that it is normal to have moments of sadness and even occasional depression. Studies showed that those who reported themselves being happy most of the time were unrealistic, self delusional, overestimating both themselves and the reality. Those that have passing moments of depression tend to be realistic, sometimes cynical, but aware of their own limits.

Not anyone can be a successful athlete - most likely your genes will set you up on this track followed by chance and personal choice. No visualization or mantra will help you make performance if your biology and environment won't help you.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't pursuit your dreams, just establish dreams appropriate for the level you are at. Having in mind all this makes it clearer to chose whether you should continue investing in your dreams or quit and find happiness in what you are right now or other more appropriate ways.

Maybe the ultimate self help advice you would need is this one: lose hope, give up, think sad thoughts, settle for second or third, don't work through your grief, don't try to discover new horizons of your personality, be pessimistic, men aren't from mars and women from venus, don't believe in yourself. Just stop fighting and be for a as many moments as you can, free of any advices, must-dos and self-victimization.

Do not register to another seminar "Fire Walking Weekend" or sign up for another success coaching sessions. If goal setting, positive thinking, daily affirmations, self talk, dream building, visualization, chanting, fire walking the self help guru's preached would actually work then we wouldn't need so many new books on this theme right? Unless...unless they are failing miserably for you.

The self help industry, success coaches and motivational experts - even though they mean well (blessed be thy) and genuinely want you to be successful - they are stunting, maybe even permanently destroying your chance to be successful. The only ones that will become successful are them, by collecting your money and attention.

Some people are even addicted to the self help books - they own tens and hundreds of them . The self-abnegating strategy the self-help industry employs: namely, tearing you down in the name of building you up has it's appeal to some people who self fulfill their prophecy of being victims: yes, victims, but not of a conspiracy but to their own self-delusional fantasy of the world.

Don't stop hoping though, don't stop dreaming, don't stop investing in the future - we need psychological self-medication every day. Just stop from time to time from your race to unknown horizons and enjoy what you are and what you have - you may have just missed another perfect day of your life!

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Target Audience: women, men

Tags: self help, pop psychology, motivation, inspiration, self improvement, depression, psychology, coachi

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Ezine Owner: sophie rinaldi

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