Posts Tagged ‘Personal Development’

Automatic for the people

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

I’m watching The Brain: A Secret History on BBC4, about Mind Control. In amongst a scarily breezy canter through the history of ECGs and MK Ultra is the point that its not just dogs and pidgeons that respond reliably to Pavlovian rewards. So in my quest for self improvement, do I need a specky bloke in a white coat to chuck me a scooby-snack whilst zapping my backside off the sofa? Are humans really so automatic?

The Self-Help Industry

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

I’m currently pinned to the sofa waiting for the boiler man to show up, which is my excuse for watching Paul McKenna’s “I Can Change Your Life”. The expert self-publicist is currently featuring people with deeper problems – a middle-aged female agrophobic who can’t be alone in the house for more than 10 mins who has 9 kids (well if you don’t get out much..!) Coming up later is a compulsive gambler and a bloke with a flying phobia.  (Update – McKenna: “The good thing about ringing agrophobics is they’re always in”)

I don’t have any deep-rooted problems – I’m reasonably adept at understanding myself and what is rational thinking and what isn’t. Having said that, I’m not some super human, there is room for improvement. People exist who run marathons, are superb musicians and heart-surgeons in their spare time. Good for them.

But while we’re all wise to the wiles of the diet industry, making women (and increasingly, men) feel ugly and fat, there is a whole self-help industry dedicated to making people feel generally not good enough. It fills ranks of shelves in bookshops, and the internet is cluttered with it. Like all advertising, it creates a fear – that we’re not successful enough, fit enough, attractive enough, rich enough, loved enough. Then it promises the solution, but its a mirage. Mostly we will stay as we are, but why? Most would benefit from some improvements, so what stops us? The books say fear, I suspect it’s more laziness. I am incredibly lazy. But it’s more complex than that. Why do I (and again, I’m pretty sure, its not just me) not do things I positively enjoy? What is the psychology behind that?