We all know that life and its struggles aren’t easy. So, we can’t help but crave happier lives, peace of mind, better relationships, successful careers, etc.
This has led to the rise of over $9 billion industry built around helping people lead happier and fulfilled lives.
The internet sorely played an important role in the growth and success of this industry making it a lot easier for just anyone to give tons of advice to millions of people who are endlessly looking to make their lives even better.
While this industry has in one way or another impacted our lives positively, there is a handful of misguided information or teachings by most self-acclaimed self-help gurus that doesn’t help us get any better but make our lives more miserable as they tend to turn us into robots instead of making us better humans.
Here are 5 advice from the self-improvement industry I no longer buy into and I think you shouldn’t too:
1. Subduing negative emotions is the key to resiliency.
We live in a world where self-improvement experts have succeeded in building a society that encourages us to invalidate our negative emotions. We are always told to let go of our negativity and embrace positivity. But that’s misleading.
It’s true, negative emotions can make us miserable and sad, make us dislike ourselves and others, erode our confidence and self-esteem, or stop us from thinking, behaving, and reacting rationally to certain situations. But suppressing them as most self-improvement experts suggest, is by no means the best and the most effective way to deal with them.
The problem is that asking us to think and remain positive especially when we are faced with negative emotional distress, will only nudge us towards the trap of toxic positivity. Which according to psychologist Susan David, robs us of the capability to properly deal without emotions.
That’s why in her insightful TED Talk, she explains that the radical acceptance of all our emotions even the messy, negative, and difficult ones, is the cornerstone to resilience, thriving, and true authentic happiness. As opposed to the incessant advice to deny our negative emotions most self-improvement gurus always offer us.
2. Visualization will get you whatever you want to achieve.
If you want to reach a big dream, visualization will eventually get you there. I get that. Since I want to be a successful content creator, visualization can create a motivating mindset for me to achieve my dream. But most self-help gurus go too far to make it seem like just visualizing your goals will make them come true.
You might be familiar with things like, “What’s your biggest dream right now? What goal do you have in mind? See it now. See yourself reaching it—earning a six-figure income from content creation or holding your published book in your hand. You can probably feel it. The joy and excitement inside you…”
Now, that’s the biggest problem with the visualization advice of a thing. It ends up making you feel the joy and excitement of being successful while you’re yet to achieve anything, according to Justin Brown on an Ideapod salon. The worst part is, visualization might end up leaving you unwilling to work hard, take risks, and do what it takes to make your daydreams come to life.
The bottom line?
No matter how simple self-improvement experts make things seem, success can never be attained by following a few simple steps or visualizing your dreams because it takes time, dedication, and even sacrifices.
3. Positive affirmations can rewrite your mindset.
I understand that dwelling in negativity always is harmful to our mental health and striving to be more positive should be our major priority. But positive affirmations aren’t always the best way to tackle negative mindsets.
Positive affirmations might just seem easy and motivating since most self-improvement experts make it seem as if we just have to repeat some affirmative words and we might change the way we see and think of ourselves career, relationships, and life in general.
But in my opinion, just like tackling headaches with pain killers without dealing with the root or their initial cause which might just be stress and tiredness, positive affirmations don’t address the root of our negativity. They don’t address our fears or insecurities. In fact, according to psychologist Sophie Henshaw, positive affirmations only target the conscious level of our minds but not the unconscious. She further explains:
If what you are trying to affirm is incongruent with a deeply held negative belief, then all that results is an inner struggle.
Let’s say you believe that you are “ugly and worthless” – a commonly held belief by depressed people all over the world. This belief may feel deeply and irrevocably true, no matter what the actual reality might be.
If you deeply believe and feel that you are ugly and worthless, it will set off an inner war. With each positive declaration, your unconscious will cry out, “it’s not true, it’s not true!”
This conflict uses up a great deal of energy and creates massive tension in the body. The end result is that the negative belief becomes stronger as it fights for survival and what you really desire fails to manifest.
That’s why I now refuse to fight negativity with positive affirmation because I know I might not succeed. Instead, I will always choose to engage in interrogative self-talks where I rationalize and address the core of my negative self-talk or mindsets as suggested by Sophie. How?
Let’s say I’m scared of meeting new people or being in social situations, I’ll then engage in the following self-interrogation:
I’m I scared of social situations? Why? My possible answers might be: I’m afraid of being judged, I hate awkward moments. Was I misjudged the last time I was in a social situation? Were things really awkward with people around me? Well, the truth is, people will always have their judgment and it doesn’t matter. And if things were boring or awkward maybe it’s because of my poor social skills. How can I improve that?
At the end of the day, such kinds of self-interrogation are more effective and change negative mindsets better than simply repeating some affirmations.
4. There are no limitations or barriers when it comes to improving yourself.
It would be great if self-improvement experts could ever stop making their advice sound like a one-size-fits-all solution to all our unhappiness. Because it just doesn’t make any sense. They paint pictures of ideal or success that doesn’t necessarily apply to us or doesn’t apply equally to everyone.
Because they forget the differences in our family backgrounds, social and financial status, our neighborhood where we grew up, our educational backgrounds, and other limiting or otherwise factors that might make or break a person’s success with their “advice.”
That’s why telling everyone if we want it badly enough, there’s nothing that can stop or limit us from achieving whatever we want, is wrong when our social and financial status, family background, and other factors are sabotaging or limiting some people’s success while being the core reason behind other people’s success with the same advice. It’s just like treating two patients with different illnesses using the same drugs.
Hence, we don’t want to hear those arrogant voices telling us that their tricks and strategies can change everyone’s life. We are tired of them. They drive us crazy and make us question and blame ourselves unnecessarily when their self-acclaimed blueprint to happiness fails to work for us.
5. You shouldn’t waste even a second of your time.
Time is the most precious resource in life because you’ll never get any of it back. So, try to squeeze the juice out of every second of it. Don’t waste any bit of your time on anything or anyone that doesn’t worth the value because your time is worth more than gold.
But what if I choose not to squeeze the juice out of every second of my time? What if I spend a considerable amount of it playing video games or going through Game of Thrones? What if I spend some time with my family, friends, or on sports?
Yes, I do want to be a successful entrepreneur and love working and being productive, but certainly not every time, every minute, or even second of the day.
And I think advice like: “Don’t let anything or anyone waste even a second of your time,” Is simply crazy. Because there’s a huge gap between being too busy and being productive. Busywork is just useless. It creates a delusional view of one’s self as someone of high status who is too occupied to spend time with others or do things that aren’t helping his goals and dreams. Which won’t take him anywhere.
The worst part is people who end up buying such insane advice always treat people rudely or badly for wasting a little fraction of their time as they are made to believe that their time is worth more than gold. And this ruins their reputation and relationship with other people. Doesn’t sound sexy right?
That’s why you should turn deaf ears to self-improvement gurus telling you never to waste any second of your time being unproductive. You are a human and not a robot. Even Gary Vaynerchuk spends his weekend with his family and on sports.
So, it doesn’t hurt neither does it sabotage your success if you sometimes relax and read some (fictional) books, hang out with your family and friends, play some video games, or catch up with the latest Tv series.
Besides, choosing to be productive every second of your life will leave you burned out and stressed which in turn, force you to take long impulsive breaks and “waste” most of such times scrolling through Instagram feeds or starring in a daze while claiming to be busy.
Hence, strive to live your life to the fullest and don’t allow work that should be a part of your life to take over your life, simply because someone asked you not to waste even a second of your time.
The bottom line is, most of these people don’t even practice what they preach. Hence, you shouldn’t blindly follow every piece of advice. And even if they practice them, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll work for you.
Previously Published on medium
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