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What Are the Self-Help Pitfalls?

What Are the Self-Help Pitfalls?

I’ve worked for a couple of decades (or so!) helping people along the path towards their best life via my career in the fitness industry. Over the last five or six years, I’ve committed much more of my time and energy into developing a career in the big, weird world of Personal Development. It has been an interesting journey and I’ve learned (and continue to learn) much along the way.

    While the benefits of working on ‘us’ are seemingly obvious, I believe there are a few challenges, pitfalls, and curve balls that the would-be self-helper needs to be mindful of in his or her search for their best self and best life.

    1. Self-Help Selfishness.

    One of the potential dangers of constantly working on us is that we can inadvertently become self-absorbed, selfish, unaware of the needs of others and disconnected from reality. Some Personal Development devotees are so ‘self-focused’ (their world, their issues, their problems, their relationships, their body, their finances) that they struggle to relate to, take an interest in, and connect with people who don’t have the same mindset, values, attitudes or thinking. Sometimes we need to put our own reality, situation, goals, needs and desires on hold for a while and simply and selflessly invest time, energy and love into others with no agenda. And in doing so, we might discover where the real growth and learning happens.

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      2. The Self-Help Evangelist.

      If you really want to alienate people, point out all their faults, show them the error of their ways, demonstrate how clever you’ve become on your self-help journey and do your best to convert them to your Religion. After all, it’s for their own good right?

      3. Theory isn’t Reality.

      There’s a lot of space between knowing what to do and doing what we know. Far too many people are champions at the knowing part but completely useless when it comes to the doing. You know exactly what I mean because there have been many times when you’ve known what you should be doing but have rationalised yourself into doing nothing. I know this because we’ve all done it. In many ways, we are simultaneously the most educated and the most stupid generation in history.

      We’ve never been more educated but we’ve never behaved less intelligently or responsibly. We’re fat, we’re in massive debt, we’re at war with each other and our planet is almost stuffed… but other than that, we’re flying! Oh well, at least we understand all the theory behind it! If only we realised that most of our problems are behavioural in origin, not educational. Change your behaviours and you will change your outcomes. More often than not the best lessons and the biggest growth-spurts don’t come from books, workshops, websites or DVDs (the theory), they come from taking chances, being pro-active and turning those theories into a reality – doing the practical.

      Learning by doing as opposed to learning by reading or listening. From a personal change perspective, sites like this are only valuable when we apply what we read. And to be honest, too many people are happy to spectate rather than actually get in the game.

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      4. Guru Worship.

      This is one of my pet peeves. By all means, respect people (if they deserve it) but don’t worship them. Instead of empowering themselves, some people actually empower their Guru and turn them into a demi-god. Such an unproductive waste of time and energy.

      If you’re struggling to see your Guru (mentor, role model, teacher) as a normal, flawed, human being just like you, then picture him/her taking an early-morning dump; that should fix it for you (sorry if you’re eating). Doctor Phil, Tony Robbins, Oprah and even Deepak all take a crap every day, have all hurt people, have all told lies, have all made massive mistakes (and will continue to) and are all flawed because they are wonderfully, amazingly, uniquely… human. As we all are. Yes they are gifted, driven and successful (in some ways) but believe it or not, they’re no better than you.

      If only YOU knew that. They might be in a different place to you, but they’re no better. In some way, to some extent, we’re all dysfunctional. And don’t tell anyone I told you this but in my experience, quite often the most ‘perfect’ people are actually the most dysfunctional.

        5. It’s Freakin’ Expensive.

        I’m not suggesting that people shouldn’t pay for education, inspiration or motivation, but what I am saying is make sure you get a good return on your investment and know what you’re buying. Spend your self-help bucks wisely and thoughtfully. If you’ve already done fifty seven workshops and seminars, and your life and situation is essentially the same, then another break-through program probably ain’t gonna do the trick for you.

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        I have a website that is a completely free resource with over five hundred articles on a wide range of subject matter, so you can’t really go wrong here! My workshops cost about one fifth of similar programs and my books, DVD’s and CD’s are relatively affordable, so I’m doing my best to be an easily-accessible resource to the masses, while also trying to make a living as a professional speaker and writer. And no, I’m not suggesting that you buy any of my products or attend any of my seminars, but I am suggesting that whatever you spend and wherever you spend those self-help bucks, know what it is you’re paying for.

        To be completely honest, I know that many people would be wasting their time by attending one of my programs because they don’t actually want to hear what I have to say and they’re not ready to do what needs to be done to create real change. I’m not interested in making people feel warm and fuzzy for a day; I’m interested in helping people change their life forever in an honest, real and practical way. By the way, if the only relationship I ever have with you is as a reader of this site, I’m happy for that and honoured to be a tiny part of your journey.

        6. Some of it’s Crap.

        In my humble (and at times, unpopular) opinion, some personal development stuff is mindless, mumbo-jumbo, wishy-washy, feel-good bullshit. It’s not practical, it’s not realistic and it doesn’t change lives over the long term. In fact it often damages lives because it’s misleading. Some writers and speakers are more concerned with making friends and winning fans than speaking the truth no matter how popular or unpopular that message may be.

        The “you-can-be-whatever-you-want” message ain’t exactly the truth. In fact, it’s crap. Yes we can all learn, grow, change and become the best ‘us’ possible (if we do the work), but can we all do whatever we want? Nope. If I reaaaaaally wanted to, could I run 100 metres (meters) in 9.6 seconds? Nope? Can we all make it in the NBA, the NFL or the AFL if we work hard enough? Nope. Will the vast majority of hungry young actors make it as big stars if they apply themselves? Nope. Will most musicians ever have a hit single? Nope. Will you or I ever be fearless (as in, zero fear)? Nope. This is not negativity; it’s reality. It’s life. It’s how the world works. It’s how we work. It’s great to be focused, optimistic, passionate and driven, it’s also great to be realistic and practical about how we should create positive and lasting change in our life.

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        Don’t confuse hype, emotion, temporary motivation, self-help jargon, rock music and a feel-good atmosphere with the practical process and realities of creating life-long change. A weekend of razzle-dazzle, smoke machines and group hugs doesn’t automatically equate to a better life. Do you really believe that the majority of people who attend the “change-your-life-forever-and-spend-lots-of-money-while-you’re-here” programs actually create significant, life-long (as in, different forever) change as a result of that program? These programs can be amazing but only
        1) if the information is relevant and meaningful, and 2) if we consistently and diligently apply what we’ve learned for a LIFE TIME!

          7. Creating life-long results ain’t about any program (book, DVD, workshop, seminar, Guru); it’s about you.

          All the personal development resources in the world can’t change your life one bit. The only thing that can change your life forever is YOU. I hate products (yes, they are products for sale) which are marketed as “the answer to your problems”. These things are not answers, they are resources. How valuable these resources will be to you, depends on WHAT YOU DO with them.

          How many people have been reading my site for nearly two years without actually changing a thing in their life? Plenty. Why? Because my site is only a resource and for a range of reasons, they haven’t applied the information. The only life I can change is mine. I can influence people but I can’t change anyone. Beware the person who claims to be the answer to your problems. I can motivate you, encourage you, educate you and support you… but only YOU can change you.

          Only you can think for you, choose for you and DO for you. You are your greatest resource and your biggest hurdle…. all at the same time! So stop getting in your own way and start using your potential. Yes you can do amazing things in your life, but the big question is WILL YOU?

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          Last Updated on January 17, 2019

          8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

          8 Simple Mindfulness Exercises to Bring Peace and Happiness to Your Life

          In life, we all need to be conscientious of what we are doing. You don’t need to live a life of stress if you don’t want to. You can achieve peace and happiness in life by carefully building mindfulness exercises into your life’s routine.

          Exercising mindfulness isn’t rocket science and as importantly, you can do it. It will, however, take a few tries to get into the groove of things but once you get it, it is like riding a bike, you will never lose it.

          Trust me. It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. In this article, I will share with you 8 mindfulness exercises that will help you to boost your energy, vitality and live a more peaceful and happier life.

          Why Is It Hard to Live A Peaceful And Happy Life?

          Our Habitat Has Become Too Technological

          The world has accepted the idea that technology is often the cure for all evil. We have accepted, as a society, that everything technological will make us live a better life without fully investigating the many side effects that modernity brings.

          There are a number of technological side effects that have a tremendous impact on your life that the media rarely tells you about.[1] Some of them include self-harm, economic inequality, having less sex, and even suicide. The global community is becoming less happy because of technology.

          How can anybody live a peaceful and happy life when they are depressed? Technology advancements, ladies and gents, is a major reason for why we are living a poor life because it has infiltrated our lives too much.

          According to my research, Americans spend an average of 8 hours a day looking at the computer screen — The average screen time spent on smartphones alone is about 20 hours per week. That’s a lot! No wonder why living a happy and peaceful life is so difficult these days.

          Too Many People Don’t Want to Unplug

          Americans check their phones an average of 80 times during vacation.[2] Some admit to checking their smartphones 300 times every single day. In countries like Brazil, India and China, the situation is no different.

          The reality is that people are constantly plugged into technological devices and this behavior is literally making people all over the globe fight an inner war with themselves, which consequently makes them very sad. As we know, war is the enemy of peace which won’t make anybody happy.

          Listen carefully:

          We have a global anxiety epidemic because people don’t want to unplug from their smartphones and most people aren’t doing anything to fix it. It is a sad state of affairs but very real. This obsession with technology is turning us into perishable robots who live terrible lives.

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          The era of anxiety is here to stay. There is little doubt about it. We can, however, fight back with the best remedy of all — We call it mindfulness!

          Thank God there is an antidote to this whole technological madness. Without further ado, let’s go straight to the mindful exercises.

          8 Mindfulness Exercises to Start Practicing

          There are tons of mindfulness exercises available for you to engage with out there.[3] In the paragraphs below, I will include the best ones I’ve personally tried or have seen my close friends and family members try.

          Are you ready for it? Let’s go!

          1. Pray Daily

          You should pray on a daily basis. Why is that you may ask — Well, because science has told us to do so.

          When people pray, they feel peaceful, almost eliminating anxiety. Worries become secondary, and often gives people energy and hope to cope with the difficulties of life.

          Prayer can make you more confident and focused. Prayer also helps you with self-control, helps to control pain, and can protect you against illnesses and disorders like cancer and high blood pressure. At least, this is what researchers from Harvard Medical School have said.[4]

          Pray. You won’t regret it.[5]

          2. Pay Attention to Your Inner Thoughts

          A lot of people allow themselves to be influenced by their negative thoughts. Be different and resist believing in them. It is a bad habit that can lead to unhappiness.

          By the way, if you do feel this way, chances are high that somebody other than you put these thoughts into your head.

          Here is my secret to combat this cancer — look at things objectively. I bet that if you look at things as they are, you will realize that most if not all of your negative thoughts are only inside of your head.

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          If you pay close attention, you will quickly realize that these voices aren’t worth your time. Believe me — Ignoring them and looking at things with objectivity is often the best course of action.

          This article can guide you to beat negative thoughts:

          How to Stop Automatic Negative Thoughts When You’re Overwhelmed

          3. Smile Often

          Smiling will slow down your heart. It will also relax your body because when you smile, your body releases endorphins which in itself has a number of positive benefits for you as a person.

          Smile often! You may want to smile early in the morning, during the day, and late in the evening. It is amazing what happens to you when you decide to smile instead of being grumpy.

          Surrender your problems to a nice smile. You will notice two things. First, most people just don’t which makes them live a miserable life. Second, if you decide to smile often, you will eventually smile unconsciously which is the ideal.

          The moment that you smile unconsciously, you then know that you are truly happy.

          4. Organize Your Working Desk

          A messy desk will make you less productive and can agitate and overstimulate you. You don’t want that.

          When you clear your desk, you engage in deep inner-thinking and your systematic decision making ends up becoming therapeutic.

          Most people realize that they are most creative when their creative space is clean and organized. The former often makes people more aware of what they are doing which lends to less stress and more productivity.

          Organizing your desk will also make you more energetic and focused because order often decreases chaos which is a condition that often slows down daily progress.

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          5. Celebrate Your Friend’s Victories

          I love this mindful exercise. One of the best ways to live a happy and peaceful life is to celebrate the victories of others. When you do that, you automatically make your friends in a better mood which makes you in a better mood, as well.

          Happiness is contagious! We might as well celebrate others as much as we can. If you find out that your peer has won an award, celebrate with him! If your friend is the recipient of a local charity award, celebrate with her!

          What is also awesome is that when you celebrate with others, they often celebrate with you in return. This, ladies and gentleman, will make you feel fantastic. You can’t go wrong with this one, period.

          6. Listen to Your Spouse/Partner

          God put someone in your life for a reason. You might as well listen to him or her.

          I listen to my wife everyday. In fact, I often ask the following question to her, “Amanda, what are your thoughts about…” or “What am I missing about…” It is shocking what I hear back from her. Without her having much context and perspective, by the art of observation in my own nonverbal behavior and the behavior of others, she accurately gives me incredible insights which helps me out with living my life to the fullest.

          I’m a firm believer that spouses are supposed to engage in interpersonal communication every day. I most definitely do and will continue doing it. You should do the same.

          7. Give Yourself a Break from Technology

          You can’t be in total equilibrium if your computerized devices control your life. You must get away from technology on a daily basis.[6]

          How do you do that? This is my formula:

          First, take this smartphone control test. It is only ten questions but this test will place you somewhere in the human robot cycle continuum.

          If your score is between 25-30, take a break from the computer (or smartphone, pad, laptop/desktop) every twenty minutes and stop being on a computerized device after 8:00pm.

          If you score between 30-35, still take a break every 20 minutes but stop being on these devices at 5:00pm.

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          If you score more than 35, you need to take action immediately.

          Limit computer use as much as possible throughout the day. Give yourself as many breaks from the computer as possible. Are you ready for the challenge?

          8. Go Exercise

          Go exercise at least three times a week. I don’t care if you need to workout early in the morning, late in the evening, on the weekends or during work days. Working out is absolutely imperative for you to live happy and peaceful life.

          The stresses of the modern world are too much for you to neglect this important mindfulness exercise. When you go to the gym, you burn calories, focus on activities one step at a time, your mind relaxes, anxiety decreases, you sweat and often think about topics unrelated to your work place among many other benefits.

          You must exercise at least three hours each week for optimum results. Why? Just take a look at all the benefits of regular exercising:

          12 Benefits of Regular Exercise You Should Know

          The Bottom Line

          It’s in your best interest to learn and put these mindfulness exercises into practice. Now that our habitat has become too technological and many people just don’t want to unplug, engaging in daily prayer, celebrate your friends’ victories, and listening to your spouse are among the best ways to be mindful about what you are doing and how you are living.

          It is possible to live a happy and peaceful life. It only depends on you.

          Go exercise! Take a break from technology and invest in you! Life is too short for distractions.

          More Resources About Mindfulness

          Featured photo credit: Lesly Juarez via unsplash.com

          Reference

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