In the second year of university a thought popped up into my mind. It said, “You will never get what you want in life.”
I bought it hook, line and sinker. I looked at who I was and agreed. I couldn’t see myself as a successful person. I had too many problems, no solutions (even as a psychology student) and was too afraid to be vulnerable to express my fear of being inadequate.
So when I stumbled on the Law of Attraction, I felt like my problems were solved. All I had to do was change what I focused on and thought about, and my life would be different.
So I tried harder, read more books and watched more videos. I experienced some small victories because there is power is shifting what you focus on, but the major changes I craved weren’t forthcoming.
I drove myself to frustration and mental breakdowns because I hated what was happening around me.
Here’s psychology in a nutshell: “what you resist not only persists, but will grow in size.” The quote is attributed to Carl Jung and it explains why certain things in life never change.
In my situation, it explained why I changed from a relatively stable kid to a terrified student who thought he’d have to die if he couldn’t be successful to an optimistic person who thought he had a formula for how to win at life to a frustrated basket-case.
Because I kept hating on life, life kept shoveling more things on me to hate. Even when I thought I found a solution, it only stoked more problems, defeats and self-loathing.
The self-help in my case initially came from the Law of Attraction, but it could’ve been psychedelics, art or yoga. Regardless, as I tried to build my life up, self-help was tearing me down. I hated that I kept trying to use it for my benefit but was compelled to keep trying because I needed what it promised it would give me.
So I did the only thing that made sense. I accepted my life as it was and things started to ease up and got better. However, there were still some things that were stubbornly staying the same.
I was happy for the progress and even for the growing pains, but I couldn’t understand why some things just weren’t changing.
I revisited the “what you resist persists” quote and I realized that the things that weren’t changing were things that were far in the background of my mind and awareness. Life was showing me what I thought about certain aspects of money as well as judgment from others. Those were two things I had the most difficulty seeing.
But I was afraid to look at these things, especially the criticism from others. However, I had already witnessed the transformation from what life was to what it became and the power behind accepting what is. So I knew it would work.
Here’s what I did. I let my mind imagine a scenario where I was being judged. I saw the critical eyes, the sarcasm, and the laughs at my expense. I don’t quite remember the words said, probably because they weren’t so important. It was the emotion and energy that was being flung at me that was important.
I just let myself face it, ready to die before the condemnation, criticism and shame. But the more I did it, the less shame I felt. The more I did it, the more I realized that the only way anyone can hurt me is if I buy into what they say.
It’s one of those things that you can know conceptually but to know it experientially is what really matters.
The reason people seek self-help is because they are afraid of facing their fears. It sounds so… simple. Too simple. Deceptively simply. But that’s just what it is.
I had a thought one day that I would never succeed and there was just enough crap in my nineteen-year-old life to suggest that that would be true.
Instead of facing the fearful thought, I ran away. I ran to the Law of Attraction and self-help. They were useful but what can adopting these helpful things do when you’re running away from the initial problems?
As a matter of fact, one of the reasons I was even studying psychology was to avoid the vulnerability of being honest about my internal battles. I didn’t trust anyone to help me, which was really just a childhood wound.
It doesn’t matter if you take up the “right” or healthy stuff to make yourself better. If you’re running away from something, if you are fearful of something, you are not in control of your life and you will do anything to get that control back or to make the pain go away.
Some of us resort to more quick but unhealthy means to get that fix, but it’s all the same if you choose the healthy means. You will not be fixed, but you will be addicted to it.
This is how people become self-help junkies. They get a high from motivational content but they don’t do anything. Why? Because there’s a thought that is blocking them and only they can go within, face it and once they face it, it disintegrates.
They want the pleasure of success but they hate the pain of failure more. Therefore, nothing gets done and they stay safe.
However, the fact of the matter is, if you’re afraid to die, you’re not ready to live. We are not short of ways to die on this planet. Yet you go outside where you could get killed by someone. You drive even though you could get into a fatal accident. You date people who could hurt you. You feel feelings for someone who could reject you. You start a business that could be a flop. You put ideas out there that could trigger someone. Do you see what I mean?
Of course, you could do nothing, but you’d be miserable. Never taking a change is one of the major regrets of the elderly, along with caring too much about what people think.
As good as self-help can be, it could hurt you if you aren’t taking the time to find the roots of your issues and to implement some plan to uproot them. I gave you mine above but there are other ways such as traditional therapy and journaling.
I know how cliché this sounds but it’s never too late to face your fears. People say it all the time because they know it to be true. It’s one of the biggest lessons to learn as a human being and one that needs to be repeated because so many of us are struggling and even dying due to mere thoughts.
So if you want to get off that hamster wheel, question why you’re running in the first place.