Friday, May 4, 2007

Number 1 Myth of Self-Help Programs

The first post of this series Thinking About Beliefs was some thoughts on how a belief comes about for ourselves and how we structure the meaning (make sense) of our feelings to external events. Our beliefs are wrapped in many layers of casual experiences that match and build additional supporting beliefs shaped by our perceptions. Once we have accepted it is our belief we rarely reexamine them unless our experiences forces us to.

The second post Fallacy of Limiting Beliefs discussed how the concept of limiting beliefs and discovering their roots using our memory is not our best source for making change. Our behavior comes from our beliefs whether we know about them or not.

Thinking on beliefs is not about I am right and you are wrong but how we come to act in the way we do and how we interpret the feelings that arise from that behavior.

Feelings arise spontaneously from the very fact that we are alive. You cannot suppress feelings. You cannot escape them. Can you stop feeling sad, happy or fearful? Can you turn up the dial on happiness or down to lessen our feeling of sadness? So trying to run away from or change the fact that we will have distressful feelings is a non-starter. We need to simply accept our feelings for what they are. Fleeting experiences that constantly change according to circumstances.

What we can change is how we handle our feelings. If we try to escape our feelings by indulging in behavior that temporarily masks it such as drinking, drugs, gambling or other activities we are doomed to a continual search for the next fix. Pain and suffering are signals that we need to examine our circumstances and determine whether our behavior caused it or was it something beyond our control. If it is something we can't control; accept it. If it is something generated by our behavior then change it and let the resulting experiences and feelings guide us. Just remember that change won't eliminate feelings.

This changing our behavior and evaluating our results will over time construct new beliefs that are more beneficial to us.Usually people embark on self-help programs to eliminate the suffering or pain they are currently experiencing or to obtain more happiness. That this is directly controllable is the Number 1 myth of self-help programs.

There is a good post by Greg at Greg's Brain titled Are You Happy that expands on this topic.

Related Post: The Value of Unpleasant feelings

14 conversations:

S. Camille Crawford said...

Good morning Peter. Nice explanation regarding the limits of self help!

Camille

Peter Haslam said...

Thank you Camille

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

"We need to simply accept our feelings for what they are."

this is the hard part peter. i love this series by the way. thanks.

smiles, bee

Peter Haslam said...

Thanks Bee you keep me going :)

Mimi Lenox said...

Love this post. I'm been a long-time reader of psycho-babble etc etc etc. Thanks for making sense.

Peter Haslam said...

I assure you mimi its only tempoaray - making sense that is :)

Comedy + said...

Very well done Peter. I call all these folks snake-oil salesmen, but I think you already know that.

Substances/addictions do not make one happy! It may be a temporary fix, but eventually you are deeper in despair. What is that old saying...You have to hit the very bottom before you can get better. Some make it back out and are healthy and some don't.

I too have enjoyed this three-piece learning experience.

Peter Haslam said...

Thanks for the add comedy+

Gregory A. Becerra said...

Peter, as you may have guessed I am a bit stumped by these three posts. Our thoughts are similar, but I think we are approaching this topic from different angles. I didn't really go into how I reached my conclusions in my post, you have a bit. I think we are writing similar things but I think are arguments are quite different.

My background if very behavioral based, mechanistic and biological. I view thought and behavior as a layer that we add over a chemical process that we experience. We perceive what is going on internally as well as externally and then attempt to add meaning to it.

As I mentioned to you I made some posts but then deleted them because I didn't think they were fair. We are saying similar things; at least some of our conclusions seem similar. But I think our arguments are quite different.

I'll be looking out for some further posts to get a better understanding of where you are coming from. I look forward to a continued dialog with you.

Greg
Greg's Brain

Peter Haslam said...

I also think we are saying the same thing in different ways. I look forward to a continuing dialog

eulogy examples said...

I really dont like self help books, I dont think that they can really help.

No offense to the writers... But I think that is should not be the one change... We need to discover ourselves... on our own...

Best Man said...

I really dont believe in self -help.

I think the best way yo go about adding value to yourself is to make sure that you give your self a chance. You like yourself then it becomes easier.

GiveBackToYourself said...

You're right when you say its all about how we handle our feelings... It makes sense... and its something that we should look into every single day...

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