There’s a notion out there . . . a misconception really; regarding personal development and what this self-help thing is all about. The idea goes like this: we’re suffering with depression and low self-esteem so we go to the local book store and browse the Self-Help section looking for something to make us feel better. Something to clear our troubles.
Seems innocent enough, right? Except that image brings with it a subtle implication . . . we’re looking for something to fix our problems for us. An easy way out.
And so we load up our cart with books about how gratitude and positive self-talk will help us feel better and gain confidence. We buy subliminal recordings to listen to while we sleep. We purchase prayer and meditation guides to help clear our mind and calm our soul.
What happens next?
We go home, devour the books and play those recordings every night in our sleep.
And it works!
By God it actually works. We feel great and everything seems to be improving.
For about a week or so.
Then the high wears off, the recordings have all been played, and it turns out things really haven’t changed at all. We fall back into a state of depression. Probably even worse than before – our lows always feel much lower when preceded by a high.
The problem here is our expectations. We believed – incorrectly – that these self-help materials were a cure all. As long as we took our daily dose of pep talks and visualization, our lives would just suddenly improve.
Of course, it doesn’t work that way.
That’s the passive approach to personal development. And it never works. Personal growth is about change. Real fucking change. Reading a few chapters from some book just ain’t gonna cut it. Change must come from within. It requires work and sacrifice. Determination and consistency.
Real change requires effort – an active approach. So in order to set the appropriate expectations, we’re going to examine 4 common misconceptions about personal development. We’re going to beat ‘em up and shake the truth outta them. Because Truth is the only guide we’ll ever need.
The 4 Misconceptions About Personal Development
1. All it Takes is Positive Affirmations to Change your Thinking
This one goes way back. It’s really at the heart of the self-help industry. If we can just keep our thoughts positive, tell ourselves how wonderful we are, and repeat our daily mantra of “I think I can, I think I can,” everything will be better in no time.
Simply telling yourself how great your life is means nothing if you don’t believe it. No amount of self-talk will convince you that you no longer fear speaking your mind and standing up for yourself.
It just doesn’t happen that way.
Sure, it’s better to tell yourself positive things rather than negative things. And what you repeatedly tell yourself will affect how you view yourself and the world around you. But the effect is portrayed to be greater than it actually is.
If you really want to put positive affirmations to good use, then go out and fucking earn that praise you heap upon yourself. Talk about reinforcement! When you’re out there busting ass and making real change, then all that talk will actually mean something to you. You’ll believe it because you’re living it. It becomes a positive feedback loop – you kickass and it feels great, so you tell yourself how much you kickass . . . which makes you want to go out and kick even more ass!
How fucking cool is that?
But to just sit on your ass while you continually tell yourself you’re on your way won’t get you anywhere. Let’s call it what it is: A big fat fucking lie.
Don’t lie to yourself.
Earn your self-respect. Earn your self-love. Do shit that makes you feel great about who you are . . . then tell yourself you’re turning things around. Let the Truth reinforce your words.
In return, your words will reinforce the Truth.
2. A Dose of Gratitude will Cure What Ails You
It’s a simple concept: be grateful for all that you have. It will help you to realize the abundance in your life. It’ll improve your mood. It’s going to put a spring in your step and change your whole fucking outlook on life. It’s just the tonic you’ve been seeking.
But it’s snake oil.
Oh fuck. He didn’t just say that!
We’re so often told to just be grateful:
Hate your job? Be grateful you even have a job.
The bank foreclosed on your home? Be grateful you and your family can move in with your in-laws.
Wife left you? Be grateful. She was a bitch anyway.
When you’re pissed and feeling like shit, nothing is more goddamn annoying than someone telling you to just be grateful.
Let’s get one thing straight here. Gratitude is an emotion. It’s so obvious yet it’s somehow missed, so I’ll say it again . . .
Gratitude is a motherfucking EMOTION!
Just like fear. Just like anger. Just like love.
It’s an emotion. And emotions are the furthest fucking thing from rational thought. It doesn’t matter if you should be grateful. If you don’t feel it then you will never be grateful.
Do you want to actually feel grateful? Then go out and make your life something to be thankful for. Start living and loving. Do some epic shit. Make something of yourself.
And then . . . I guarantee you’ll feel some gratitude.
3. Subliminal Recordings Work Like Magic
This is the most passive approach to personal development that I can think of. All you have to do is play some recordings telling you how great you are while you sleep and, over time, the constant repetition will convince you that it’s true.
This works on the same level as positive affirmations, except often touted as even more effective because the messages are delivered while your mind is supposedly more receptive to the ideas. Sounds pretty appealing right?
I tried this method waaaay back when I was 18 or 19. Some Kevin Trudeau course. I don’t even remember what it was. But I remember the results I got.
In hindsight, it couldn’t have been any other way. I was expecting these tapes (yeah, I’m a geezer) to miraculously transform me into some other person. A better person. And what was I doing to go along with those tapes? Jack shit.
This is the worst of the worst. Promoters of these products give the impression that you don’t have to do anything but play theses recordings night after night and one morning you’ll just wake up confident and primed for success.
By using these recordings, you are simply looking for something to do the work for you. You’re looking for easy results. Results you haven’t earned.
Save your money.
You don’t need to try and trick your brain or manipulate your thoughts to better yourself. That’s not how personal growth works. It’s actually a step backwards. The journey towards self-improvement begins with an honest assessment of where you stand and a willingness to do the work necessary for change.
Looking for easy success via subliminal recordings is the last fucking thing you should be doing. You’re better off just sitting on your ass admitting you really don’t want to change at all . . . at least then you’re not lying to yourself.
4. Overcoming Procrastination can be Accomplished Step by Step
I fucking despise procrastination. Not because I’m some great go-getter, looking down on the procrastinators of the world. But because I’ve let it rule so much of my life. I’ve used procrastination as a means of holding myself back for far too long.
Once a procrastinator, always a procrastinator.
It’s an addiction. And like all addictions it can be overcome. All we need is a support group and a program, right? Twelve Steps. And by following the twelve step process we can begin to cure our addiction to procrastination, right?
Addictions cannot be cured. Procrastination cannot be tamed step-by-step. It does no good simply breaking a large task into smaller ones. People who say it’s that simple are not true procrastinators. We true procrastinators love this shit. Nothing makes you feel more productive than planning how you’re going to accomplish something by breaking it down into smaller chunks.
Sure, planning it out might have taken half the day, but now you have a roadmap. You’re on the right path. Or so you tell yourself.
Now I’m making progress! I’ve broken it down into bite-size pieces. I know what I have to do. It won’t be that difficult at all. But it’s getting kinda late now. And Breaking Bad starts soon. I need to give this project my full attention so I should just start tomorrow. It should be nothin’ . . . I have a plan after all.
It’s all a lie. You know it’s a lie. You’ve told it to yourself a thousand times, and yet you keep on telling it.
Here’s the hard truth about procrastination: it’s a fucking war. You’ll have to fight it every day of your life until you finally kick the bucket. It’s not something that can ever be overcome. It will always be in your nature.
No twelve-step program can fix that.
The problem is not how to manage a project. It’s not even how to get started. The real problem is actually getting started.
I’ve written about this before. It doesn’t matter if you know what you need to do to get started. That won’t help.
You. Just. Have. To. START!
At the beginning of any project you will face resistance. It doesn’t matter if this project is a chore you’re dreading, or a venture you’ve been wanting to start for years . . . you will face resistance getting started.
This is the battle you will have to fight. Every time.
I love writing articles for this blog. Once I get started, I can’t hardly stop myself – that’s why all my posts are so damn long. BUT, getting started is another thing entirely. Before I begin every post I struggle. I look at that flashing cursor and think:
Fuck. Now what? Maybe I should put some more thought into this. Plan my post out a bit better. I could think about it while I run to the store and get some cookies.
Getting started is the hardest fucking thing in the world for a true procrastinator.
You need to find a way to beat that resistance to getting started because it will never go away. It will continue to plague you your whole life. I use the “Fuck It” technique. But you can use whatever technique suits you best. All that matters is that you find a way to start.
You will never conquer that part of your nature that wants to procrastinate. But you don’t have to let it rule you. You can rule it instead. The more you beat it down, the stronger you get. And the stronger you get, the more you’ll be able to beat it down.
So don’t waste your time searching for the perfect method to overcoming procrastination. It doesn’t exist. Just find a way to get started. The rest will take care of itself.
So there you have it. Four of the most common myths about self-improvement. Shot down.
When starting your journey towards personal development it’s easy to fall into the trap of seeking the easy answers. Looking for instant gratification. But you can’t avoid the work. You have to put in the effort or you will never get lasting results.
And there’s just so much information out there. Some good, some crap. How do you avoid stepping in the turds?
Find the Truth.
You may not like what you see, but the Truth will provide you with all the answers you need. The only answers you need . . .
The answers that work.