1000 petals by axinia

the only truth I know is my own experience

The mind games or the myth of self-improvement October 13, 2007

photo by axinia

There are millions of books written on “self-improvement” and we are constantly bombarded with magazine and television  reports showing us  how to “find the inner you”. In truth however, almost all of them are simply pandering to our ego, to make us feel better about ourselves.

These upbeat items usually tell us how much better we are than we believe, and offer a selection of trendy sound-bites which, like bad diets, are supposed to help us to attain that all important self-improvement. We are told that if we follow the handy tips we will get a better job, a happier relationship, and our life will improve beyond all belief.

The fact is that the real self-improvement can only come from hard work, generally over many years.

The problem with simply reading a book on self-improvement is that reading is the easy part. Some books suggest that we can achieve a result through the power of positive thinking – the “every day I am becoming a more dynamic and forgiving person” school of learning.

Again, like bad diets, these mind games may work for a short while, but then their power starts to fade away and we once more find ourselves battling our demons and fears. Back to square one.

Self help groups are also another popular way of tackling the task, as there is no doubt that sharing problems definitely makes it easier to deal with them. It`s the same with psychotherapy, counselling and a dozen other modern solutions to an age old problem.

But they all fail in once crucial way – they cannot deal with the source of our problems. Without addressing the source of the problem, our spiritual makeup, all other treatments are bound to fail eventually.

from “Meditation” by Nigel Powel

Relevant posts:

Spirituality on sale

3 questions about YOUR spiritual practice

Who is Mr. Ego?


12 Responses to “The mind games or the myth of self-improvement”

  1. Tomas Says:

    Photo by axinia has said all I wished to comment. There was nothing left to me to add … wow, it looks that my hearty applause too is an inappropriate in the concrete situation.

    The abundance of “bad diets” are the trap – the cheat of human flesh that defends the requests of our belly and don’t want listen to the eternally blossoming ring of God’s Love – that’s the test we are to pass for to rejoice at what was offered to us for a free.
    I totally agree with you that “Without addressing the source of the problem …” everything is damned. That looks so obvious, and that’s the greatest mystery of God’s love: I just set back in awe towards the Magnificent Glory of God who calls us by name… wow

  2. I believe you’ve hit the nail on the head with “they cannot deal with the source of our problems.” If you look at American society, or even those of the more highly developed countries, and compare them to the less developed societies in Africa, southeast asia, etc., you will see a marked difference. People in the less developed areas are much happier vis a vis their American counterparts. Why is this? I think it’s because our society is too easy. No one works for basic life needs anymore. If a person fails to have new cars, 2 cell phones, and every new gadget on the market, our society portrays them as failures. Where does this lead us in terms of our own feelings of failure and problems the self-help books wish to fix? Nowhere.

    What is most interesting is that the better self-help books recommend turning to God – W. Clement Stone, Og Mandino, Napoleon Hill, and some of the newer ones. I fear, however, that God can’t save the people in this society who want to be saved, but are unwilling to give up their 3 televisions, game systems for their kids, 5 minute quick cook meals, and hustle-bustle lifestyle (done all in the name of being a good American).

  3. axinia Says:

    Thank you, Tomas! deep and touchy as ever…

    William Kapeles, thanks for the brilliant insight! The this is Materialism is extremely attractive, as it is something we can easily grasp. The spirit is not. So people go mad about possessing thing. But finally I believe that it is not about rejecting all the hustle-bustle lifestyle (although it could be largely reduced!), but about being detached, not getting involved into this mess of possessions and greed… But it is hard.
    That is why I found out that the only thing helps is going beyond the thought, beyond the mental stuff where we can be so easily manipulated by everyone…

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