Let’s Start With an Easy Breathing Exercise..
Since this is a slightly controversial post, I want you to slowly ease into it. Take your finger and hold it against your right nostril so that you can only breathe with your left. Easy right? Okay now lets turn it up a slight notch. Do this for the rest of your life. No breathing from the right nostril or your mouth. When you get the urge for more air..just breathe harder from your left..I can say you must be out of breath quite a lot no? Must be really hard to be breathing from one nostril only. In fact, your body must be quite stressed that you are forcing this on it but you just keep on breathing harder when you feel bad okay? Let’s be real. You wouldn’t do that to your body, so why are you doing it to your mind? Yea, you guessed it, this was an analogy to how people are told to live their life. I will explain.
Positivity Can Be a Problem
You see, we are told to think positively. To avoid thinking negatively at all costs and when negative thoughts arise you are to remind yourself “you are a being of infinite ability”. That being sad or afraid or hurt is not okay.. Cheer up! Have a high self esteem! Love yourself! I could go on and on.
But you see when you push those negative emotions down you are closing that right nostril. Negative emotions tell us of stuff we need to deal with. It’s all fun and games in the short term. Pushing down the “nostril of negativity” is easy (sounds like a super villains super power doesn’t it?..nostril of negativity). You start to feel good. So good that suddenly you find yourself killing it in work and relationships and gym and friends and family and Candy Crush..everything. You are truly unstoppable. And that is exactly why the self help industry is swimming in dollars…and also exactly why it will always be swimming in dollars and never run out of fuel.
People seriously begin to believe they are no longer allowed to be sad or feel negativity. And when they do, it’s because they didn’t focus hard enough on positivity. Didn’t do that “10 step easy peasy nice and cheesy plan to break free of negativity” right. (Oh the names they come up with for their programs). They start to think something is wrong with them. Now they are upset. They always screw this up and now look suddenly their life has problems that cause pain so bad they can’t “positify themselves”. Negative emotions they were holding down suddenly comes bursting out and their life is once again crap..but hey who is that coming to the rescue?! Another self help book! And the cycle continues.
In the short term, positive affirmations, positive thinking, and other distractions from negativity work very well. But here is the catch, no one in this world not even the zen monks in the mountains can be truly permanently happy. We are just not built that way. Can you see yourself being sad all the time? So then how is it possible to be happy all the time? This is where you become out of balance. You force yourself to ignore your fears and anxieties, (which by the way are there to protect you) and you focus on the affirmations and visualizations hoping the negative feelings will just disappear. Which they do, because you bury that negativity in your sub conscious. And don’t think it just sits there patiently…it causes havoc. Having low self esteem for example, and telling yourself “you are awesome” doesn’t make you confident..it makes you feel worse cause you aren’t buying your own crap. There are issues that need to be addressed before you can truly feel confident.
To put it in perspective, here’s another don’t try this at home example: try ignoring your significant others text messages when they are angry at you and see what happens. I want you tell yourself it’ll be okay, your SO loves you alot and keep visualizing yourself at the beach with a martini. Ahhhh..life is good isn’t it? But then you hear the door swing open and you suddenly see them in person..kaboom! You have sand in your eyes!..and body..oh wait you’re being buried.
So..What’s My Problem With Self Help Exactly?
My problem with these methods is that they don’t deal with anything in a healthy way and people who use them begin to try to avoid pain of any kind. Pain is essential to growth and learning. When you ignore your negative emotions and force positivity. You become out of touch with yourself and don’t feel any new drive. The fire within you goes out. You ironically go from a being of infinite potential to a “being of infinite potential”. Because guess what? In order to truly get somewhere in life..you have to experience pain and suffering. You have to experience the bad so you know what the good is. There needs to be a balance and instead of learning how to ignore negativity, people should learn how to deal with it in a healthy way. (I will do a post on that too)
Is All Self Help Bad?
No. I am not saying that they are all bad. There are some genuinely good books and programs out there. (I will start to recommend books with their summaries to my email subscribers soon..shameless plug.) All I am saying is be a little skeptical of what you are shoving in your mind. Not everything that glitters is gold. IF that self help book was reaaaalllyyyy that amazing then shouldn’t the world be a noticeably better place by now?
Oh and here’s another secret: You probably already know all that self help has to offer. If you have read 5 self help books so far you basically know it all so get to work. The rest tends to be just a rehash of old works.
So What Have We Learned Today?
Be aware of what you read. I have seen way too many “steps to happiness” books and quotes and other crap lately. I feel like it is causing a lot of denial and sub conscious issues for people in the long run. Instead of shunning negativity we should embrace it and observe what its trying to tell us. Now of course if your negativity is unbearable and extreme..please go see a doctor. That is the equivalent of closing your left nostril. This is a rather controversial post and I can see quite a few people disagreeing. However agree or disagree, share your thoughts on here and on social media.This is a very important discussion that needs to take place. If you have any books you would like to recommend please post them in the comments WITHOUT links. I will end with a quote from Buddha himself: “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.”