I have been a self-help student, coach, and teacher for more that thirty years. During that time I have read, attended, listened to, and applied almost everything I could get my hands on.
I have gone through periods of extreme success, and extreme frustration.
What I have learned along this journey is that there are many popular self-help teachings that on the surface seem to make sense and be helpful, but are actually disempowering and manipulative. These teachings lead people to inaction, keep them dependent on their teachers, and prevent people from creating the life they desire.
Here are my top nine self-help teachings that actually hold people back from creating the life they truly desire.
1. The Universe Is Conspiring To Your Own Good
Many of you will not like this, but it must be said. This myth is the source of great frustration and suffering. It is used to cover up ineffective teachings, and as an excuse for people relinquish their seat of power.
The universe is not conspiring for your own good. The universe is not conspiring towards anything. The universe is awareness. It does not judge. It is impartial. It acts according to specific laws and principles.
If you doubt this then just look around our world. Too many people die poor, lonely, angry, sad, and frustrated for this myth to be true. Where was their greatest good? When was the universe planning on providing it for them?
The universe will bring whatever you choose into your world. The universe does not judge if this is good for you or bad for you. It does not consider if you are deemed worthy or unworthy. It simply provides you with that which you choose. The universe reacts to you.
Many people are lead to believe that the universe is going to make all of the selections, decisions, and choices for them. People are under the misguided belief that the universe will someday deliver that which they need even if they themselves are not leveraging the universal laws correctly in order to create their desires in their lives.
Unfortunately we are surrounded by many false and incomplete teachings. Because these teachings are incomplete they are either ineffective or have sporadic results. The default excuse for this seems to be that the universe is conspiring for your greatest good. We are told that if we just wait, then all good things will happen for us, even if we are not doing what we need to do in order to create them in our lives..
If we want consistent and predictable results that we need to apply correct and complete understandings. We must take deliberate control of our lives. We must claim our seat of power, and remain at choice.
You can have, be, and do anything and everything that you want to. Waiting for the universe to provide it to you all on its own is not the way to accomplish this though.
The universe is not conspiring for your own good. It will bring you pain just as easily as it will bring you pleasure. We need to take accountability for our worlds. We have chosen everything in them. We have chosen the good, the bad, and the ugly. Our goal is to do it deliberately.
It is time to properly choose your life! You are powerful. You are unique. You have purpose. Take accountability for your world. Have, be, and do anything and everything that you desire!
2. You Just Have To Feel Good
Like all of the other teachings in this post “just feeling good” is, on the surface, a good practice. Feeling good will often lead to a better life than feeling negative will. This is obvious to anyone; however, this teaching is often used by the self-help industry to induce complacency and inaction. There are currently millions of people who have adopted this teaching as it is popularly taught. Previously they were going nowhere in their lives. Now the only thing that has changed in their lives is that they are feeling good about going nowhere. I think this is a problem. I want results.
The main problem with the popular teachings of ‘feeling good’ is that they do not go into nearly enough instructional detail. Telling someone to ‘feel good’ in order to get what they want in life is comparable to telling someone to ‘swing a club’ to improve their golf game. It sounds great, but it’s not overly helpful. People go around ‘feeling good’ but don’t really make any substantial improvements in their lives.
Far too many people are taught that all they need to do is feel good and then everything they want will come into their lives. Although it is true that you do need to feel good in order to have, be, and do what you want, simply feeling good will not deliver them to you all on its own.
In their efforts to feel good most people merely push down negative thoughts and feelings and wrap them up in a thin veil of positivity. This leads to frustration, anger, and ultimately bringing the things they do not want into their lives. There is a vast difference between actually feeling joyous and pretending to feel good. A pile of dung in fancy wrapping is still a pile of dung.
Feeling good is not a technique or methodology onto itself, and it is very far from an overarching system of personal achievement. Feeling good is merely a compass. It tells you if all of your other techniques are on target or not. It is important for us to accurately discern this so that we can ensure that what we are doing will have a true impact and effect on our lives.
3. If You’re Not Getting Results Then Wait
This teaching takes many forms, but the underlying message is always the same. There are many incomplete, inaccurate, and ineffective teachings that are popularized today. When they fail to produce results then people are told that they just need to keep applying the same techniques over and over again, and wait for different results to come.
We all know Einstein’s quote about insanity:
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
And virtually all self-help teachers will use this quote to try to get you to change what you are doing and improve your lives. Yet when it comes to applying their theories and systems people will be told many of the following:
-It takes time to change
-You have to overcome your inner blocks first
-There are outer forces or powers at work (which are usually said to be working towards your benefit)
-You will get things at some perfect and unknown time
-Just focus on being happy
-You’ll get what some outer power knows is good for you, when it thinks it’s good for you
-Just keep trying
-Everything will work out in the end
What all of these statements really mean is wait. They really mean keep doing the same things over and over again and expect different results.
If what you are doing isn’t working, then it may be time to consider trying something else. The fault is not with you. The fault is probably with the teachings you have been taught. I believe the test of a philosophy or technique is in its applicability to real life. In other words, does it create change in your life, or doesn’t it?
4. Things Will Happen At The Ideal Time
Many people do not realize how disempowering this teaching is. It implies that things are out of our control. It states that there is some power outside yourself that may allow you to have things when it deems it to be the right time. It implies that you are powerless to alter the timeline of things in your life at that you are at the mercy of something else.
It is amazing how many teachings will tell you that you can be, do, and have everything that you want, but only when some other power says you can have it. These are two very contradictory teachings. Either you are powerful and in control of your own life, or you aren’t.
This teaching is used as a panacea for teachings that are not effective. People will be told that the techniques and principles that they are taught work, so keep applying them, just don’t expect any results. This is ludicrous.
This teaching leads to helplessness and inaction. People will continue doing the same thing over and over again and expect different results. Either a teaching works or it doesn’t. If you have been applying a teaching for a long time and you do not have substantial changes in your life then you should probably something else – something that works.
5. Things Are Meant To Be
There are not many statements that are more disempowering than ‘Things are meant to be’.
We see it again and again in popular media. It is crippling. It hands people’s power of choice over to something outside of themselves, and resigns them to a fate that they feel is predetermined.
You are powerful. There is nothing in your life that is predetermined. Everything is up to you. You can be, do, and have everything and anything that you want. Your hand is on the rudder. The only question is – will you steer your ship, or just let it drift upon the waves?
Although a few rare people who are convinced they have a glorious predetermined destiny will be motivated by the phrase ‘Things are meant to be’, the majority of the population is condemned to inaction by this statement. It is completely disempowering. There are two sides to this coin – two perspectives from which this cursed statement breeds inaction.
The first perspective is that of a group of people who are forever drifting along without steering their boat. They are waiting for the breeze and the current to bring them safely to some unknown but wonderful destination. They believe that all they need to do is float along, and they are assured, and reassured, that something else will take care of everything for them. There is no need for them to act, or steer the ship. All they have to do is wait with a smile on their face. These are the optimists that are under the fatalistic spell of ‘Things are meant to be’.
The second group of people who are suppressed by this phrase are the pessimists who are also under its guidance. These people see the fatalistic nature of the statement to be, well, fatal. They surrender to the fact that misery and lack are their lot in life. Their misery is predetermined and meant to be. They believe there is nothing that they can do about their situation, so it is therefore useless for them to try changing anything.
Nothing is ‘meant’ to be. There is no power outside yourself that has already determined what your future will be. There is no power ensuring that everything will turn our all right for you, and there is no power restricting what you can achieve. Everything is up to you!
You need to take 100% accountability and responsibility for where you are in life, and for where you will go. All of it is under your influence and direction. You can be, do, and have everything or anything that you want. You can also be, do, and have mediocrity. You can also be, do and have nothing.
The choice is entirely yours. It is time to choose your life!
6. Something Has A Plan For You
This is similar to #5, with the added burden of trying to please or manipulate the outer power that has a plan for you.
This teaching always involves an outer being or entity that has power over your life, and has a purpose or plan for you.
The two problems that occur here are:
1) We normally have to please this entity by behaving in particular ways in order to earn, or be deserving of, the great purpose and future it has planned for us.
2) We have not way of directly communicating with this entity, so we either need to resort to either interpreting signs to determine if we are behaving correctly, or rely on other people who claim to know and understand what it is this entity wants from us.
The limitations here are rather obvious. We either become dependent on, and obedient to, those people who claim to know how the entity wants us to behave, or we get mired is superstition.
All of these options take away our power to determine our own fate and create our own lives. You are self-sovereign. There is no power that has control over your future accept for you.
7. Your Subconscious Is Blocking You
People are often taught that the things they are being taught and trying to apply are effective, but their subconscious is preventing them from happening. This teaching leads to a lot of dependency on the teacher. The practice of unblocking your subconscious is a bottomless pit of therapy, and it puts all of the blame for any lack of results on you.
The subconscious, by definition, cannot be consciously known. You can therefore be exploring it and ‘unblocking’ it forever. Just as a magician can continuously produce objects out of thin air, another subconscious block can always be made to seem to appear to replace the one you just removed. A person can spend their entire life removing these blocks if they are under the guidance of a crafty teacher.
The entire time that the student is working on this they will be told that the techniques and philosophies they have been taught to improve their world are accurate and effective. They will be told either directly or indirectly, that any lack of results is their fault, not the fault of the teachings.
The truth is that the universe is a very mechanical place. You are already an expert creator of your world, and your mechanisms for doing so are working with extreme precision. You merely need to learn how to focus them and control them. Your subconscious can no more prevent these mechanisms from working than it can prevent you from being affected by gravity, or getting wet when you are out in the rain.
8. You Just Need To Be Fixed
The greatest trick in the self-help world is that it is always implied that if the teachings do not work for you, then you need to be fixed.
This is false. You do not need to be fixed. You are a dynamic creative force. You are creating your world right now, as we speak. Your ability to create is perfect. It is flawless. It is natural. You are doing it right now without even giving it any conscious thought. You have been doing it 24 hours a day since you were born, and you will be doing it until you pass from this life.
It is as natural for you as the rhythm of your heart.
If a teaching is not working for you then there is not something wrong with you, there is something wrong with the teaching. If something is a cosmic, or universal law, then it should work for everyone – all the time.
Gravity does not have different effects on different people. Neither do the laws of lift, acceleration, or thermodynamics. If you are practicing a teaching that works for some people and not others then the teaching is either wrong or incomplete.
Let’s look at the Law of Attraction as an example. It is very popular. It makes sense. It works for some people under some circumstances. It does not work for everyone under every circumstance.
It is because often the teachings, although well intentioned, are incomplete. Most people apply the teachings as they are commonly described and fail. A few people apply the teachings and accidentally apply them differently and get results.
It is like an untrained pool player or golfer. Most of their shots may be bad, but occasionally, by accident, they will shoot a terrific shot. They will not know what makes one shot bad, or what makes the other good. They will not understand the real reason why the perfect shot was executed so well. They will try to repeat the good shot, but lacking the true understanding behind why it worked, they will not be able to repeat it.
Some of these people may make up reasons why the perfect shot went so well, but applying these theories will not give them any consistency. Many of these people will even hold their great shots out as examples and then teach others their incorrect theories of why those shots were so good.
Other people will apply these teachings and will for the most part not improve their games at all. Given a large enough number of students however, some of them will eventually have accidental good shots too.
It is the same with the currently popular teachings of the Law of Attraction. If they are not working for you then the fault is not with you. The fault lies with the teaching. Proper teaching brings proper results. What you have been taught is incomplete.
Here are a few truths you should know:
-You are not broken. You do not need fixed
-You are unique
-You are more powerful than you realize
-You always have, are currently, and always will determine what’s in your life
-You have a role and a purpose in the universe.
-You don’t attract. You choose. It is time to choose your life!
9. Just Appreciate What You Have
Appreciation is a very powerful thing. Appreciating what you have is vital in order for you to move forward and attain what you want to attain. The way that appreciation is normally taught to people is good, but it will hold you back from attaining your full potential.
When we are normally taught appreciation we are taught to appreciate what we have, and what people do. We are taught that we should always look to the positive side of situations, and feel good about what we do have instead of feeling bad about what we don’t have.
I agree that it is far better to focus on having than it is to focus on lack. A person who is grateful for what they have and appreciates having it will always have vastly more than the person who is resentful for what they do not have, and focuses on what they lack. The person who focuses properly on what they have will create more of the same in their life. Alternately, the person who focuses properly on their lack of things will create more lack in their lives.
The standard teaching of appreciation therefore is a very good base for people to start from. Being grateful for what you have and appreciating it will serve you well. It is limited however.
By properly appreciating what you have you will be constantly recreating having it in your world. You will not move backwards, however, it will also not bring you forwards. This is how many people attain a certain level of success and then plateau. They stagnate at a certain level and do not grow, or evolve, any further. These people attain a certain level of success, and they continually appreciate it. This continual and proper appreciation continuously helps to create the same state within their world.
Appreciating a penny will bring you a penny.
So how does one continue to evolve and move forward? In order to evolve and move forward a person must create more in their lives. Their desires must continue the evolutionary cycle of being fulfilled and expanding.
I hope this has been helpful.
Remain at Choice,