Lately, almost every generation has had a self-help book. Hill’s ‘Think and Grow Rich’ came out in 1936, Peale’s ‘The Power of Positive Thinking’, ‘Ask and It is Given’ by the Hicks couple, Robbins’ ‘Unleash the Giant Within’ and last but not least, Rhonda Byrne’s ‘The Secret’ were all best sellers, consumed by many around the world, making the writers and publishers a quick buck and promoting gatherings for the ones seeking a quick life change. Soon enough, it all blew out of proportion.
Byrne’s publicist’s clever PR paid off when Victoria Beckham said ‘I wanted to move to US, I read the book, did my part and voila! Hubby signed the contract and we moved to California’.
All of these books pretty much claim the same: Control your thoughts, stay positive and focused, drop self-doubt and self-criticism, visualize what you want and you shall have it. Now, go home and make a pretty vision board.
Byrne’s book goes as far as saying ‘imagine a red phone consistently and it will come across. If it hasn’t yet, that’s because you have doubts, try until you get rid of the doubt’. Because we are basically holy beings and the world is here for our satisfaction.
Nobody can get rid of self-doubt completely. Just like you can’t get rid of fear or anxiety once and for all. You might have crippling fear that ruins your life or have an appropriate amount when necessary. The first one needs intervention, second one is essential for your survival and wellbeing.
It has been a long time since ‘the Secret’ came out and been worn off so here comes the new milking strategy; self-realization gurus. This time it’s altered, per se.
There is no ‘wishful thinking’ although positivity still plays a large part, but the ‘I am the center of the universe and my mind can alter reality’ has been sucked dry so here is the next challenge.
I think everyone should grow, thrive on knowledge, get better, drop the trivial BS, focus on learning, expanding, practice, always ask what if’s, drown their stigmas, silence their ego’s as much as possible, strengthen their objectivity, alter their thinking process, see the bigger picture, work hard, play hard, think hard, come up with reasons why such and such hasn’t worked out or why it has worked out and what can be altered, made better, find what is missing, become more compassionate, aware, mature and try to know themselves as much as possible
But, when the whole process comes down to nit-picking and takes over the action, I have a big yawn. This new wave still thrives on being the center of the universe or some holy being simply because you are here.
Despite all the ‘kill your ego’ claims, it is getting bigger and bigger.
Yes you are here, you have a mind, body, past, present and hopefully a future. You have needs, wants, wishes, defects, tools at your disposal, you are constantly in progress, changing, getting better, getting worse, hurting, healing, choosing and letting go. It is important to understand or at least try to understand your strengths/weaknesses, know better and do better, simply because those can put you on a more productive path.
I recently came across a web site that has hundreds of subscribers where the owner claims to be a self-actualizing guru. His take on the matter is somewhat efficient about the search for meaning behind every thought and feeling but then come the subscriber/follower crowd who quickly manifest themselves as martyrs and take his every claim as written in stone. Of course they have a forum where, very disappointingly, action is looked down upon. Mostly, people advice one another to discover aims by dropping the thinking process and replacing it with feelings mistaken for intuitions, totally ignoring the fact that those are chemical reactions produced by the brain that follow the subconscious mind. The subject then quickly moves to the Divine Purpose of being which is static awareness followed by consistent immovability.
So it is basically a crowd whose whole purpose is to look deep within and then deeper, then some more.
‘Do you feel the need to write a book?
‘Ask yourself why’
‘Is it because you want recognition to feel better?’
‘Why do you need to feel better about yourself?’
‘Is it because you think you are lower than the rest and you are worthless unless you write?’
‘And why…blah blah’
It’s a failing, free psychoanalysis from individuals without a degree. But then again, the guru is neither a doctor nor a psychiatrist. So it’s no-brainer.
I have this vision in my head of 100+ people sitting around, contemplating and nothing ever happens because everyone’s busy looking for the ‘why’ behind, until the desire or thought fades away and so does the reason.
Discovering the ‘real reason’ behind a thought, need or desire is important, it might lead to a more righteous path or discovery. Taking action after decision making is even more important. But then going to the other extreme and condemning action all together will produce a lazy bunch who will spend years searching for ‘awareness’ that won’t spark off any action. Soon enough, every move will be considered pointless, since each way leads to the same end.
We have what we call ‘Modern life, Discoveries, Inventions and Art,’ because some were unsatisfied with their circumstances and went through an enormous effort to discover, change and alter their environment or simply had feelings and visions so strong they had to create to breathe again. Some were even forced to do so as to not get their heads chopped off by the authority.
Who cares what triggered Brunelleschi to compete with seven others to design doors for the Baptistery in Florence or Tesla to go after Wireless communication? What matters is, they did! Their personal motive is irrelevant but might be important for understanding the drive and how/why they chose to push the envelope, especially if you are writing a bio.
Just imagine Beethoven not composing the painfully beautiful Moonlight Sonata, because he sat on a bench, wondering what kind of self-inflicted deprivation in his soul triggered his love for Giulietta? So he sits on a bench in Vienna, all day, every day, because, well, he is just being.
Although these examples sound extreme, the same goes for ordinary people.
There is a hidden motive behind every action. A need, want, desire, fear, craving, search for approval, love, fame, fortune, sufficiency, peace, competence… anything. Some are very subtle and some are painfully intense. Everything we see is here because someone took an idea, feeling, need and put it into action.
One of the reasons this trend is spreading right now might be because we are more populated than ever and have more time. Yet, still we look for a reason to our existence and when search fails, ‘simply being’ comes in handy, supporting our feeling of self-importance. It’s basically creating a playground within without the playing part. Because turning the outside world into your own playground by manipulating thoughts and feelings didn’t work out so great.