Nickelback sing ‘they’ll treat you like a door mat expecting you to fail, says across your forehead “Integrity for Sale” …when you swallow more than pride, it’s tough to see through bullshit when it’s up above your eyes. It would be easy to claim that we currently live in an era when we are being sold an ideal of what life should be like. But the truth is every generation has been raised with some ideal to aspire to.
Recently I attended a weekend workshop and a young woman declared that she was feeling the pressure of not living up to the expectations of her family because she didn’t have a husband, hadn’t started a family and achieved highly in her career yet. She was 27 years old. The room erupted with advice, mostly suggesting that she didn’t have to meet those expectations and she still had plenty of time to ‘have it all.’ Frustrated she tried to explain that none of the older members of the group understood what it was like for her, it was different these days.
Sadly, it isn’t. Every generation is raised in societal, cultural, religious, and family expectations. I call them the collective lies of our society. They are the ideals, the hopes and the dreams of every generation. Realistically, they aren’t conjured up to make our lives miserable. But what they create is a sense of failure when we don’t live up to them and that is how we end up with emotional baggage that reflects our generation.
Having written a self-help book I’ve discovered myself in an industry that ‘sells’ healing. The next stage is to now package ‘how-to’ programs in five easy steps to help people achieve the happiness they are seeking. I’m really struggling with this concept. It feels like my integrity is for sale. I would love more people to read my book because I really believe it will help them make sense of their lives. I also think it will help parents raise their children more consciously because I describe much about our emotional and cognitive developmental stages in a real life, practical manner.
I’ve run one day workshops for all ten injustices and am creating workbooks based on those workshops that will be available for purchase through my shop in coming months. I love creating ‘stuff’ for people to help them explore the expectations and various conditioning to make sense of the pain, hurt and failure we have attached to our life experiences. But I struggle with simplifying life into ‘3 key something’s’ and ‘5 ways to’ and ‘8 steps’ because life’s not like that. Well, actually, it’s more than that; it’s that these approaches don’t get lasting results. Sure, people love the workshop on the day and say wonderful things but what happens in the weeks and months afterwards?
My concern is the self-help industry is really the self-perpetuating industry. Meaning the more you attend workshops and read books, the more you need to attend workshops and read books. And the reason it concerns me is because we are being asked to simplify things down and create feel-good moments that don’t really change anything.
But a bigger concern I have is that the self-help industry has created an entire culture of its own, filled with belief systems, sayings and expectations. Attending workshops, I’m frequently mortified by the inlay of shame and humiliation used to create conformity and compliance. As I say in the injustice of temptation, we are so immersed in shame we don’t even recognise it when it’s being used to manipulate and control us. Our need to please; our need to get it right and perfect; and our need to belong also contributes to how easily we are controlled and manipulated by self-help gurus. I don’t enjoy sitting in these workshops watching vulnerable people get manipulated like that.
I’ve been listening to and reading Brendon Burchard (The Millionaire Messenger) and really enjoying his questions and thought-provoking ideas. I’m starting to think that my audience would best be defined as those people who are interested in personal development but want to be treated with respect and as individuals with knowledge, skills and the capacity to be in charge of their own lives. They have read all the books that are to be read and attended all the workshops but haven’t found the answers yet. They have tried living up to the standards of perfection created in self-help books and now want to be realistic. They want to make choices, grow and be responsible for themselves and balance being all they can be with creating loving, connected and rewarding relationships with others.
They most definitely don’t want to be controlled, manipulated, shamed or humiliated into taking on the philosophy, beliefs or values of the presenter; nor do they want to form co-dependent or needy attachments. Anyone who has ever studied my accredited practitioner courses know that I don’t want anyone to be like me but instead I aim to help students become the flower essence, holistic counsellor and EFT practitioners they want to be.
This brings me to what I consider are my points of difference. I approach my role in the self-help industry with the following beliefs:
To every rule there is an exception.
There are a hundred different beliefs and a hundred different ways to be.
Sometimes everything is about us and sometimes nothing is about us. The trick is learning the difference.
Our life experiences don’t make us who we have become. We already were our true-self. Our pain, suffering, hurt and trauma covered us over and disconnected us from who we always were.
The first things we need to do are calm anxiety and unravel confusion.
We know when we have found the answers to our pain because our lives change – our patterns change and our emotional reality change.
It’s important to be realistic – the acceptance of what is without being a victim to it or the creator of injustice for yourself and others.
What beliefs help you live your most productive, congruent life?