The amount of Self-Help books (not to mention the abundance Apps on you can download) that promote blue sky thinking, positive visualization, focusing on your strengths only, being obsessed with self-transformation, clean living and eating, and so on.
Everything has to be faster, smarter, better, and optimism is the Holy Grail. Some of you may remember a book called “The Secret” published 12 years ago… According to it, if you wanted to find the love of your life, all you needed to do was to clean out your wardrobes and ‘make room’ so that he can hang up his trousers. Since then, we have added ‘scorecards’ to our lives too. So, now we need to track our calories, our steps, our meditation time, and so on, then analyze the data and set new goals. No doubt this leads for many of us to frustration and disappointment because we have an accurate measurement not just of a potential success but also of a guaranteed ‘failure’. Why does even the simplest things like a walk in the forest have to provide us with some measurable value?
Speed has become an end to itself. We want to lose weight and gain muscle FAST, organisations hire Executive Coaches and want to have a debrief session after the 3rdcoaching session so that you can update them on the individual’s change (this is a true story…), even the NHS apparently prescribes 10 CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) sessions for Depression (my apologies to the CBT Professionals – CBT is great for some cases and some individuals but it’s not appropriate to others and one can only deal with symptoms in 10 sessions and not the actual root causes).
Alongside this craze, another industry has proliferated and ‘gurus’ are popping up as mushrooms… Here are a few examples (Source: The Sunday Times): You can hire a Comparison Coach if you are dealing with issues comparing yourself to others on Social Media, or you can hire a Gut Coach or a Menstrual Mentor to guide you through the emotions of your cycle or even a Compassion Coach so that you can talk nicely to yourself. Seriously??
Svend Brinkmann from Aalborg University says forcing ourselves to be happy all the time could leave us emotionally stunted. And what’s more, happiness simply isn’t the appropriate response for all situations in life. He reminds us that the “old-fashioned concepts” of integrity, self-control, character, dignity, loyalty, rootedness, obligation, tradition still have their place.
First, change is not easy and if there were a manual or a magic wand, trust me, I would be the first to use it or suggest it. Second, get off the rat race of chasing perfection… what IS perfection and according to WHOM? We have lost ourselves and our individuality in this chase… and for what? Happiness? Are you sure? Look around you. Third, we need to BE more and DO less… and fourth, stop giving a damn about what other people think.
Being human means we go through all the range of emotions, and without sadness you can’t have happiness… and it’s OK to feel like shit one day… things will be better the next day.
Svend Brinkmann’s suggestions include the following:
- Cut out the navel-gazing– there is a place and time for it.
- Focus on the negative in your Life
- Put on your NO hat
- Suppress your feelings– what he means here is for adults to choose dignity over authenticity
- Sack your Coach
- Read a Novel– not a self-help book
- Dwell on the past
Yeah, why not?!
I couldn’t agree more with you, my dearest Maria! The personal development and self-help industry have capitalized on our human need to avoid and/or alleviate “pain”. As human beings, we’ve lost what ancient Greeks called “μετρο” and we want everything to happen as fast as possible. We seek perfection instead of consciously accepting that we have enough and we are enough. We haven’t realized that this obsession for more, better, happier, cleaner is what causes more suffering. It’s like a rat race on a treadwheel!! It’s not the people’s fault, though. It is the industry that gives unrealistic promises and creates this distortion. A lot needs to change and the change starts with every single one of us professionals in the field.
Thank you Vassiliki for taking the time to read this! Yes, we have totally lost the ”metro”… in all aspects of our lives…
This is a great article, thanks for sharing, this is the propaganda of positivity.
In the end, negative emotions play an important and healthy role in how we perceive and react to the world.
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Dear Olga, first of all thank you so much for taking the time to read it. Yes, you are right it IS a propaganda… and it gets us nowhere… and I agree with you, one has to have all range of emotions and feelings. Thank you again.