Self-help is very popular these days. We all want to improve and grow. The environment and changes that are hapening faster and faster have their role in making us want to adjust, become more flexible and improve in order to live up to our full potential.
But is self-help sufficient if we want to change something? Are all the self-help theories and methods really usefull and beneficial? These questions I faced myself in a certain stage of self-development.
LIMITATIONS OF SELF-HELP WORK
What I realized is that we can change alone, without help from any mentor, coaching or improvement programme, up to a certain level. We can improve some areas of our lives that are already satisfactory to us.
When it comes to major obstacles or those areas of life where we have not had major successes or where the gap between where we are and where we wnat to be is significant, it is really hard, or even impossible in some cases to go through that journey alone.
How is that so?
It is hard to get out of our own head. It is hard to detect what it is that we are repeating in our mind and consequently in our actions, that leads us the wrong way. Deep repeating patterns are very hard to detect and change by ourselves.
In those cases coaching is really a fantastic way to speed up the process of change and get to the place we want to be. Also, many of our habits are quite deeply rooted, and it takes a lot of self-discipline to change them, as Psychology Today also states.
But are there self-help methods that can harm you or are all of them useful? Should you be careful with a certain method, i.e. how to know which one is good, and which one isn’t?
If you have been involved in personal development for a while now, you know that, as I said in the previous blog post (How to know which teacher or teaching to believe?), there are so many various teachers and teachings. And sometimes that confuses people, as they don’t know what is right, because often “advice” given are contradictory.
NOT ALL SELF-HELP METHODS ARE HARMLESS
The similar applies to different techniques, tools, and self-help methods. Today I want to reflect on something that I often hear people practice and use, and so far, I haven’t met a single person to whom that “method” helped in the long run, because it is kind of contradictory and it suppresses the real problem. Although this method can lead to improvement up to a certain point, problems arise sooner or later. Often bigger than before.
I am talking about the so-called “fake it till you make it” method. I have already written about this in the blog post Fake it till you make it – can faking help us? so be sure to read that text as well.
HOW COME SOME SELF-HELP METHODS HARM US?
Today I would like to focus on this again and elaborate on why these tools are bad. We are not talking only about the above-mentioned self-help “method”, but also about forcing yourself to focus on the positive, when you feel bad, climbing the emotional scale, etc.
Although focus is a very powerful thing, one should know when and how to use it. Here’s why:
If you aim to focus on the positive, just because you want to and because you like it, because it is your preference, then it is a great thing! And yes, it gives results! Things start to happen, because where we direct our focus, we also direct our energy and attention, and this in return results in us getting more ideas, solutions and ways to proceed.
However, when you choose to focus on the positive because you feel bad, and that means using the positive focus to avoid something negative, something that bothers you, depresses you, something you fear, etc., then the positive focus is not helpful.
Because you are not solving the cause, but running away from the problem. Yes, that means ignoring the problem.
“I’LL THINK ABOUT THAT TOMORROW”
Sometimes it’s OK to postpone some things until the moment you are ready to deal with them. As Scarlet O’Hara said: “I’ll think about that tomorrow.”. By doing that we are not ignoring the problem, but simply deciding to solve it later.
But, when we want to change our focus so as not to feel bad, we are actually activating the thing that we are running away from. Most frequently, on a subconscious level. This is why some of those self-help methods are questionable.
Why doesn’t even the popular emotional scale help us then? Do you know what an emotional scale is? I will briefly explain it. You must have heard that you cannot make an emotional jump from feeling helpless to feeling joyful.
You first have to go through the emotions of anger, frustration, etc. A lot can be said about this, but here I only want to highlight this: When you replace the feeling of helplessness and sorrow with, let’s say, anger, it means that you have again just superficially felt the change. Because under the layers of that anger still lies sorrow. But why?
Because you’ve never solved the cause of feeling sad. Because you haven’t dealt with that part of you which tells you that you have certain restrictive beliefs. Instead, you walked over it by “looking for a better feeling”, while you should have been solving the cause, after which the good feeling comes spontaneously.
ARE YOU IGNORING THE REALITY?
Why have I mentioned “fake it till you make it” at the very beginning? Because by doing that, you are ignoring the reality! You are ignoring what is true. And that is never good in the long run.
And just like ignoring an aching tooth will lead to even bigger problems, so will ignoring the problem (reality) that you are faced with. Any self-help method that ignores the reality should be questioned.
If we know that everything is relative, then there is no need for ignoring and denying, right? A true personal development always means becoming more conscious. Having more understanding. Expanding the perspective. It is the opposite of ignorance, because by ignoring things we are always denying something.
Why doesn’t ignoring reality make sense? As you already know, a bad feeling is not caused by reality, but the meaning that you assign to it. And that is a projection that stems from you.
And if you ignore it, you will again project the same onto your new reality. And that’s why it is important to solve the cause – within you.
IGNORING PROBLEMS CAN BACKFIRE ON YOU
So far, I haven’t met a person to whom these self-help “methods” helped in the long run. But I met a lot of people who found themselves in even worse situations.
Because they had ignored the reality. Who faked it in hope of changing something unwanted into wanted… What often happens is the problems you ignore backfires on you with so much force, and smear over your reality, that you can no longer “fake it till you make it”.
I will finish this text with a few sentences I have recently wrote on my Social Network:
The personal growth path is a path that helps you become more aware. There is just no place for ignorance and denial. I have never been an advocate of any kind of ignorance and denial of reality.
That way we are always trying to defend ourselves – from ourselves. By facing what life brings us we enable ourselves to grow. That is why we had such experiences in the first place.
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