7 Reasons Self-help Doesn’t Work… (and How to Fix it)

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If you’ve had the misfortune of investing in and testing personal development/self-help programs, books, DVDs and so forth, and 99% of them didn’t do what they promised, you’re not alone. None of this stuff works!!!

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Only YOU can make it work… It may come as a surprise, or maybe you’re already fully aware of this fact, but for any program to ever work and provide you with the outcome you’re seeking, it is YOU, who has to create the results/change … and you can in fact foolproof your success with any new self-help program you take on, if you only tweak a few things in the way you approach the task. In this article, I will walk you through some of the most common roadblocks you can come across, when you ‘think’ you want to create a change or implement something new.

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Just imagine starting a new self-help program, book, course, etc. from scratch… and this time you approach it with confidence, because now you know for a fact and from experience, that your chance for success is unlimited and only defined by YOU…

You’ve become aware of what used to hold you back from implementing things and taking action,… and by simply knowing and acknowledging these pitfalls, you’ve suddenly turned them into manageable bumps on the road to success… and finally you know how you can easily pass or step over them and not let them become the concluding factor in the end…

I’ve listed the 7 main reasons, why personal development doesn’t work, and off cause how you can turn things around to create the tailwind you are looking for when you approach any form of personal development.

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7 Reasons Why Personal Development Doesn’t Work

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#1_You don’t have the right mindset

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No matter how useful an instruction, teaching, philosophy or course is, it’s only as useful as the student’s interest and effort in learning. According to Buddhist teachings, the learning process can be explained by an old cup metaphor. 4 types of cups symbolize four kinds of students, and any kind of teaching or instruction is symbolized by water being poured into the cup.

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Cup #1: This cup is upside down. The student has signed up for a class/program to learn, but for some reason does not pay attention. No matter how much water is poured onto the cup, it never gets filled.

Ex.: You may have experienced sitting in class, and when the class is over, you realize that you were daydreaming the hole way through, and you don’t remember anything that was said. That is what happens, when the cup is upside down.

Cup #2: This cup is right side up, but it has a hole in the bottom.  This student pays attention and registers what is being taught, but forgets it all again way too soon. The information the student learned wasn’t digested and reflected upon… and because of that it’s quickly lost in a whirl wind of other thoughts.

Ex.: You might take a class on how to be more mindful. On your way home from the class, you meet a friend who asks you “so what did they teach you?” And you realize that your mind is completely blank, and you have no idea how to explain or remember what you just learned. This is what is commonly known as “in to one ear and out of the other.”

Cup #3: This cup is right side up, but the inside is covered with dirt. When the water (teaching) is poured into the cup, the water gets mixed with the dirt and becomes cloudy. This symbolizes how the student distorts the information… Interpreting and editing it to fit preconceived opinions and ideas.

Ex.: You read a book about one of your favorite topics. If the information in the book matches the information you already have in your head, you take it as a confirmation of what you already know. If the information contradicts your pre-existing knowledge of something, you will end up resisting and ignore or disregard the new information… missing out on learning something new.

Cup #4: This cup is upright and without any holes or dirt. The student is open to learn and ready to implement.

Ex. This student will approach a lesson with an open mind, ready to learn, and afterwards he or she will have a clear understanding of what the intention of the lesson was. He or she will analyze and reflect on the teaching and implement it accordingly to reach the full benefit of the lesson learned.

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#2_You don’t see outside the box

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We tend to keep our mind limited by our own assumptions, and that keeps us from expanding our mind and reaching our true potential.

I want to introduce you to an exercise that I discovered in the book “Zen golf” by Joseph Parent. It’s called the nine dots exercise.

Draw 9 dots on a piece of paper, like you see below. Connect the dots with only four straight lines without lifting your pencil from the paper. You may cross a line you’ve already drawn.

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Click the here to see the answer!

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The secret to this exercise is to remove yourself from the artificial boundaries of this “box” that the 9 dots seem to define. If you try to solve the puzzle by staying inside the walls of the box, 4 straight lines will always leave at least one dot unconnected.

The whole point of this exercise is to demonstrate, how we are limiting our minds and lives by the imagined boxes, boundaries and assumptions we tend to put on ourselves. To look at things with an open mind and a larger or different perspective, increases our choices dramatically. It allows for so much more room to grow and for creativity in our life.

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#3_You ‘re blocked by the self-help ego

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“One of the potential dangers of constantly working on ourselves is that we can inadvertently become self-absorbed, selfish, unaware of the needs of others and disconnected from reality.” – Graig Harper, for Lifehack.org

One of the main factors in creating lasting and positive change in your life is to create a balance between your internal and your external focus. By becoming completely cloaked in your own achievements, self-realization and needs, leaving no room for others, you end up creating an imbalance in your life that will affect your quality of life and eventually decrease your level of happiness.

Sometimes we need to put our own reality, situation, goals, needs and desires on hold, and instead selflessly invest time, energy and love into others with no agenda.

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#4_Theory isn’t enough

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Information and knowledge is amazing, but at some point, theory should turn into action, if you want to create change and achieve success. There is an important shift and defining difference between learning/knowing what to do and implementing/doing what you know!

Many people are guilty of serial learning, but when it comes to implementing the – often extremely valuable – stuff that they learned, they tend to cast it aside or rationalize themselves into doing nothing. We’ve all been guilty of this at some point in our lives…  I’ve been guilty of it several times… and to claim otherwise is just silly.

It might sound obvious… but if you want to change or learn something new, you must go from learning by reading/listening/watching to learning by doing. Whatever information and however much you learn will only become valuable to you when you start to apply it…

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#5_A self-help program can’t fix you

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This statement might shock you, but no book, program, seminar, DVD, guru etc. can ever help you! There’s no fix out there and you can pay for them all, read them all, spend hours watching and listening, but no self-help program will ever help you!!! The only thing that can help change your life for good and create the life of your dreams is YOU!

Books, programs and seminars can only provide tools, inspiration and knowledge, but if you truly want to create something good in your life, or change a bad habit, you must create the change from within. You are the only one with the key to your success. How valuable and successful your external resources will be, depends entirely on what YOU choose to do with them.

Don’t get me wrong; there are some amazing resources out there to help you on your way and guide you in the right direction, but if you ever want to see results, you must be the one to create them.

You are your own biggest resource, but also your own biggest hurdle… Stop getting in your own way and start creating that change you’re longing for… You have all the smartness, savviness, strength and knowhow in the world to create amazing things in your life, but the biggest question is: Will you allow yourself to?

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#6_Don’t play the victim – take responsibility for your own life

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You should make sure you’re willing to change… and make sure you haven’t fallen into the pattern of enjoying failure. It turns out that some people unconsciously enjoy being in the rut, and having something to complain about to whom ever happens to be nearby.

Being a victim of your own short comings, is closely connected to the concept of letting your thoughts define you, but with an element of finding pleasure in complaining about failure.

If you tell yourself and everyone around you how you failed and how difficult and hard it always is for you to create success, then you’re unconsciously giving power to the fact that you failed, and you will most likely continue to fail in the future. Of cause, you can always turn your commitment and success around, but you should make it clear to yourself, whether you do have an honest wish to succeed, or if you’re just looking for confirmation and recognition from friends and family that you’re good enough even though you failed again.

If you find pleasure in having a community that rallies around you every time you express defeat or failure and that is giving you a false sense of accomplishment and momentum because of the immediate attention and compassion that follows – you need to look at, what it is you perceive as a WIN, and instead start to approach what WILL improve your life instead of just giving you a temporary high.

Failure can feel like a relief to some – to stay in the comfort of the known instead of venturing out into the unknown.

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#7_You don’t have the right community/accountability partner

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Even though this one is last on the list, it is one of the most important elements to remember in order to create any personal development success. Our ability to implement and follow through is dramatically lowered, if we are all on our own, when we try to take on the challenge of learning new, creating change and eventually reach success. We need a community (friends, family or fellow students) to cheer us on and share our frustrations, challenges and successes with.

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Try to implement these mindset shifts… go through each of the 7 roadblocks… do you recognize yourself in any of them?  Write your thoughts on a piece of paper and be honest… Test what works for you and be conscious about the negative mindset that is holding you back… when you know what is holding you back it’s much easier to eliminate it!

Was any of this news to you or are these roadblocks already crystal clear in your mind? If you’re feeling bold, and you want to share one of the things on this list that are holding you back, please go ahead and do so…

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences, so please leave a comment below… let’s start a conversation!

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With love and happiness,

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Lise
Co-creator of SMPL-happiness.com & Happy Life Mentor

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1 Comment

  • Johne543

    November 27, 2017

    I loved your post.Much thanks again. ebddddeffbda

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