"I want to believe", that's the poster on Mulder's wall in The X-Files (oh how I miss that show, not the later series but those great early years. Stretchy, liver eating guy is still my favourite). I understand Mulder's need, though not in relation to UFOs, but hey whatever floats your boat buddy. I too want to believe, but in my case it's that someone will find a cure for Bob and I can put a hit out on him Soprano's style. I don't however, think some 67-year-old guy called Rain, who is offering to teach me to massage my personal chakras in his instructional book, Rub Your Way To Health, Dude, is going to be the one to do it.
Why are people so reluctant to see a psychologist who has studied their profession for years? Why are those same people willing to believe the word of some guy with a bad tan, fluro white teeth, and a bad toupee, (we know you're bald buddy get over it!!!)? The guy who looks like an extra from Miami Vice must have all the answers to life for $49.99 at their local book store, right?
As you know by now I was a psychologist, once upon a time, when I was still part of the real world, so I am kinda biased. People see one psych, who they don't like, or have a friend of a friend who saw one who sucked, and think all are the same and will never even consider one again. Let me assure you psychs are as many and varied as the people they see. I didn't have a couch and my first question was never "tell me about your mother". Yet these same people will read 15 self-help books believing they can be rich, beautiful, thin, have the perfect marriage, perfect sex life, and perform complex differential equations by reading 12 chapters of double spaced, Times New Roman font, sized 12. Well here's a revelation. You don't actually have to be qualified to write a book. Shocking I know. Bruce, the anti-bathing guy down the street with the tin foil on his head, who talks and gesticulates to his imaginary army and thinks he is Bonaparte, and that Elmo is the anti-Christ, can write a self-help book. Just cause there is a pretty cover, clever chapter titles and Disneyesk promises of happiness and wealth doesn't actually mean that the contents and claims are any more realistic than Tori Spellings boobs.
Oh Self-Help Books, I do love you. Your titles and your self-change/healing/growth/empowering/life coaching/closure/help gurus are are fabulous. I have had many a well-meaning person tell me of this book or that that'll help me, and that guru swami Terence from Tampa, has all the answers. Yep I'll run right out and buy it today and all will be well with the world. I'll also pick up my magic beans and genie filled lamp at Aladdin's Magical Emporium on the way.
Change Your Life in 7 Days, is perhaps my favourite title at the moment. Just like the famous Lemon Detox Diet you too can have a new size 0 life in only 7 days. Woo hoo! I'm set. I'll take a week off and I'll be living the dream next by Monday! No pressure right? What if I need day 8 or maybe a fortnight? I am rather slow on the uptake these days.
The by-line says it all:
"Success and happiness are not accidents that happen to some people and not to others. They are created by specific ways of thinking and acting in the world".
Well apparently my thinking and acting are pretty screwed up, why else would Bob continue to pester me. Hmmm..., lets see. Time to take my personal inventory (love that one, the jargon of self-help cracks me up. Maybe I'll have closure by the end of this post!). I chose a profession that helps people, I was successful in it, I've worked hard, I've always tried to be there for family and friends. I believe in humanity and compassion and try to live that every day. Last time I looked I wasn't a serial killer, I do help old ladies across the street, I don't cut in line at the supermarket, hell I don't even go in the 12 items or less lane if I have 13 items! So why is Bob here? Ok genius self-help man, answer that one! Solve that in 7 days.
Ok, ok I admit it, I do laugh at those people who get hit in the groin on Funniest Home Video. I laugh at the sick humour of Californication. I do often have humorous and judgemental thoughts about those people who persist in wearing super tight leggins with a crop top at the shopping centre (lets face it that is not a good look whatever your size). Especially for the woman who readjusted her lower womanly bits inside her leggings and then touched the fruit at my supermarket, ICK!! But does that mean I am evil?? Is my thinking truly so warped and inappropriate that I don't deserve "success".
I did read that those who have followed The Secret have apparently eradicated disease in their life. Why wasn't that on the news? Is the guy or gal who wrote it up for the Nobel Prize for Medicine???? So maybe my problem is that I've been reading the wrong books. Obviously I need to run out and buy 20 copies to cure Bob. Woo Hoo the suffering is over, I'm going to think myself well!!!!!
I have no problem with positive affirmations, changing your thinking and behaviour. That was my bread and butter after all. Healthy diet, aromatherapy, yoga and others are all well-proven and fantastic additions to any health program. But few people are really going to find the help they need, or ideas they can stick to, in a 200 page paper back. If any one author had all the answers there wouldn't be 25,000 different books out there. Have a look on the 2nd hand book sites or the bargain bin and see how many self-help books are there.
Change is hard. Change takes time, and I don't mean 7 days! I know no one wants to hear that but it's true. It requires perserverence and practice. It requires support and someone to help guide you through. Thoughts alone are not going to cure illness. They have a definite and proven use as part of a holistic approach to illness, just like mediation and relaxation. They help you cope, which in turn may relieve some additional stress on your body, but they don't cure.
I love the ones that talk about the medical conspiracy that keeps us ill to keep the evil "them" in business. I always have visions of Dr Evil from Austin Powers when I hear that one. When they claim they, and only they, have the secret that the drug companies have tried to hide, run for the hills, don't look back, make the sign of the cross, break out the rosaries and use your holy water. These are the same people who sold snake oil in the old west.
If you are ill you doubt yourself, you doubt your doctors, you doubt everything. These exploitive, fear mongering, witch doctors tap into our insecurities. The drugs don't always cure, thats a fact, like with Bob, but that doesn't mean my docs get some perverse pleasure in seeing me ill or envision dollar signs (Looney Tunes style) every time I walk through the door. It is easy to give into the conspiracy, hell people still believe the moon landing was a fake whilst at the same time buy into the idea they can have fantastic abs in under 3 mins a day! It's easy to be sucked in when nothing else seems to be working and you are desperate.
Just like the Lemon Detox Diet, The Cabbage Diet, The Grapefruit Diet, The Evil Carb Diet and the like, the majority of these books aren't going to help anyone but the conmen who write them. You may lose a dress size just in time for the races, but you'll be so famished after, that you'll consume every item on the maccas menu the day after and end up with 3 extra dress sizes, and feel like crap about yourself.
Give me a break, and bring on the spiritual Big Mac!!!
Here's wishing that you all find your inner light, your true-self, your personal truth, your inner warrior, or closure! Light-bulb moments all round!
Guru Swami Michelle :)