Thursday, May 10, 2007

Top 5 Self-Help Myths

This blog is about thinking; one of our most important skills and offers a perspective for us to consider. On to the list in no particular order and certainly not all inclusive.

#1. Change requires special techniques.

  • We buy a new house, car, boat or join a new club. When we think there is a benefit - no problem.
  • Detours, weather, our favorite coffee stop closes. When we have no choice - no problem.
  • Quit smoking, lose weight, or addictions. - When it is our choice - problem.

Sometimes we may need some medical assistance when there are physical issues involved; but, we can change the only thing that we truly control and that is our behavior. We have to give up something; our old behaviors, and start new ones. One small change leads to new experiences that in turn leads to new changes towards our goals. No special techniques required; just our power of choice.

#2. Just change our feelings.

  • Don't think negative thoughts. When we feel sad, angry, or embarrassed just think positive thoughts.
  • When we feel depressed think about happy occasions in the past.
  • When we get angry at someone else's behavior; just dial it down.
  • We can feel happy and good about ourselves all the time.

No amount of skill will stop our emotional response to anything that excites or bothers us.We feel what we feel. Period. Feelings come and go as circumstances change. We can change how we behave with our feelings when they arise. If we choose to.

#3. I know what you think and believe even if you don't.

  • Beliefs are hidden from ourselves and someone else has the ability to know what that is even though they do not have knowledge of all of our life experiences and feelings.
  • All they can possibly know is their assumptions on our behavior.

Our behavior is our beliefs in action. If we want to know our beliefs just watch our actions and feelings. Does seeing a homeless person cause disgust, pity or compassion? When you see someone with arms loaded approaching the door do you wait and hold it open? Do you greet a new day with a smile or a curse? Beliefs are not hard to find at all. Just pay attention.

#4. If we have this first then we can have that.

  • If we can be rich then we won't worry about being such a worrier.
  • When we feel good about ourselves then we can take care of our weight problem.

As if feeling good will change our eating habits or being rich would change our worrying habit. We do this because we just don't want to make the change. If we don't; then don't. If we do; then do. It's our life and our choice. Just don't waffle.

#5 We are missing some essential ingredient to make life work.

  • There is something out there that we are missing and if we had it then magic will happen and someone else knows what that is.
  • That life has rules and we just need to understand them.

Life is not a precise scientific experiment. Life is a chaotic experimental trial and error existence. We have everything we need to conduct our own experiment. Trust our own experiences and accept anything else conditionally.

Food for thought.

Thanks to Darren Rowse and his Top 5 Writing Group Project at Problogger for the inspiration for this post.

17 conversations:

Sandee said...

#1 I agree - If we are programed to smoke a cigerette everytime we drive our car...then it needs to be replaced by something other than smoking everytime we drive our car. It's not easy, but if you want to you can do it...I know this one first hand.

#2 If I'm sad then I'm sad. If I'm angry then I'm angry. How in the heck are you going to appreciate being happy if you never experience any other emotion? This would not be life at all.

#3 Walking the talk is impossible if someone is lying about how they feel about an issue. It will surface quickly enough. Paying attention is all you have to do. Verbal and non-verbal signals will tell you everything you need to know.

#4 You are what you are. If you don't want to put any effort into what you would like to do or be then you will continue on your same path. Lazy way out, but a road well traveled.

#5 We are back to looking for the snake oil salesmen for that feel good fix that happens while you are there but vanishes sometimes when you get in your car to leave. If you're really lucky it might last a few days as you listen to that $20.00 motivational tape you just purchased...

Excellent points Peter - See you tomorrow :)

Peter Haslam said...

Thanks for your upbeat view Sandee.

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

"When we feel good about ourselves then we can take care of our weight problem."

sigh... nope. wish it was that easy! in me it is DEEP inside me, and i can't talk about it. yet. maybe never. but there is a reason and i feel fortunate that at least i know what it is. but knowing the "why" does not make me lose weight. i know all the reasons i should, health, ability to do more things, etc. but still am not able to do it. now it's not that i have never done it, i've done it many times, but revert back each time. just nuts peter, just nuts. sigh...

smiles, bee

Peter Haslam said...

That's the point Bee. Don't beat yourself up. You have your reasons and that is that. Because someone says you should is playing their game not yours. Two hugs and a promise not to wear my eau de dawg. :)

Diane Dehler said...

Hi Peter,
It is always a positive experience to read your blog and now I am mulling over hidden beliefs that I hold. Change is a process requiring, rain, sunshine, roots and time.

Peter Haslam said...

Lots of sunshine princess haiku

Unknown said...

I guess its true when they say that the only constant in life is change.

Its crucial but sometimes so difficult to implement.

So many things that I want to change - I make a list but its like New Years resolutions they stay on the list.

The times I have been successful is when I have actually made a drastic change of direction removed myself from situations and people that would somehow unwittingly encourage the behaviour I am trying to change.

It sounds drastic but it seems to be the only thing that works - at least initially till you have gotten used to the change

Peter Haslam said...

Yes Random Magus fiends want you to stay the same and sometimes the only way is to find new friends. The price of change is sometimes high.

Anonymous said...

I agree with them all, but relate most to #2. Great list!

Peter Haslam said...

Thank you alicia for joining the conversation and #2 is a stumper as we can never get it right :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this great list. Reminded me of this, one of my favorite quotes from Shoma Morita: "When running up a hill, it is all right to give up as many times as you wish–as long as your feet keep moving."

Peter Haslam said...

Maile that is a great quote I am going to keep that one in my list. Thanks for joining the conversation

Anonymous said...

Great insights again. Number 2 - I suppose initially I disagreed with you, but on reflection you are right. The feelings are there, but you choose how to react. The cliche, he never seems to be affected by anything, is, as you infer, not the whole truth. The reality is that what you see in a clam person is an unflustered response to feelings that might derail others.

Peter Haslam said...

Very astute observation Ed things are rarely what they appear to be in our eyes.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter. I'm coming late to the party once again, but I have to say this is a great post with true wisdom. It's been my experience that most people simply won't change. For whatever reason, it never happens. Those that do change, though, seem to have to make a huge effort at first to break through all the negative mindset baggage that you relate in your list above. After that, things get much easier. Thanks for the inspiration!

Peter Haslam said...

Good observation Roy and welcome to the conversation

Self Help Articles said...

I think you can be happy all the time, and appreciate it. I've seen people who do something that everyone would get angry over, but they choose to have a positive attitude.