Sunday, March 30, 2014

The big issue I have with betterment.

It can be easy to feel like you truly know someone through reading their blog, but I think this is quite false.  There are any number of reasons why someone's blog can fall to the wayside in their life.  When things are busy and going very well, it's difficult to turn back to the blog.  When you're turned your bed into a nest and have trouble getting out of it, it's difficult to turn back to the blog.  While I haven't turned the bed into a nest yet, I've certainly been teetering on the edge lately.  I'm not depressed by any means, but if I don't act, I may be soon enough.  I want to use the word "malaise" or "ennui" here, but I think those words are generally reserved for people cooler than me.

While I don't like talking about work on here (although, I touched on it in my last entry as well), the fiscal year end has me completely run off my feet.  In addition to regular 'year end' stress, my particular role is running one body short, effectively doubling my workload.  For the past two weeks, I've been arriving home much later than usual, and just vegging out until bedtime and then getting up and doing it all over again*. 

The real culprit here, though, is the weather.  I like snow, but I can't remember when we've last had a winter so long.  It's severely bummed me out.  This weekend seems to finally be showing true signs of spring, so I'd like to shape up and get myself back in order.  I haven't stepped on a scale in awhile, and I'm a little worried that I might be back up to my university weight, which I swore I'd never return to.

There is an entire in industry dedicated to pulling up your socks and facing issues head on.  And in some ways, it's hard not to try and reach out and see if any of them will help. 

The pile on the left is what I feel I should be reading.  The pile on the right is what I plan to read.  Both piles will be put off.


My relationship with these books is strange.  It is important to note the following: of the self-help books shown above, I've actually only purchased one of those myself ("It's your money" by Gail Vaz-Oxlade. Given that she's more finance oriented, I'm not including her in the below indictment).  All the others have just shown up, dumped on me by well meaning friends and family who were trying to clear their houses of clutter**.  I always approach these subjects with such indifference; so many of them have let me down in the past I look for the similarities in all these books.  For example:

Give it up to a higher power

So many of these damned things have a pervasive thread of religion/spirituality running through it.  God is like herpes for self-help books.  You could write a self-help book that doesn't mention God at all, but as soon as it's set on the shelf with others and it'll break out in God faster than you can say "Abreva."  This element doesn't expose itself until you've reached a level of commitment with the book, around chapter/step/aura 3 or 4 of the book.

My favourite of these are the books that insist you can do without this element.  "Just focus that energy on something else, like a rock," they'll say, effectively insulting theists, atheists, and anyone who dabbles in good sense.  Fuck you and fuck your book.

Dedicate your life to this book.  Teach it to others.

Speaking of herpes, once you've jumped through all the hoops of a self-help book/system/lifestyle change, most of them will encourage you to go out in the world and tell people about it.  Whatever you do, don't give them a copy of your book (you'll need it for reference should you fall back into old habits!), make them buy their own.

The book tells you this so that you'll help people, not to sell books.

This system WORKS

There's a really great element to the entire trend of self-help.  Say you start reading one of these books, and it has a lot of great advice in it***.  Then, your life gets a little busy.  Maybe you're helping plan a wedding, in a custody battle, doing hostage negotiations, or the most recent girl you've locked in the basement is proving to be a handful****.  It doesn't even have to be this extreme, the end result is you can't dedicate as much time to the book as you had intended. 

Even if you do dedicate your time and energy to it - following the directions as closely as you can - things don't go as well as you'd expected.  There's no way the book has failed you, you must have failed the book.  All of these books (even the good ones), have this way of making people feel like shit, when they should be getting people to feel safe, or even excited.  These books are like douchebags at the bar that all women should try to avoid*****. 

A photo of a dick on the back cover that you can compare your life with

"In addition to Better, Faster, Stronger,Clive McEnvy has written three bestsellers and two failed erotica novels.  He lives in the east-central district of Toronto (read: the beaches), with his wife, matching Volvos, and two chocolate labs.  He is better than you, and your purchase of this book is going towards owning a third racehorse that he never sees, due to his horse allergies." 

I don't know if I'm actually bitter, or if I just want every book to have a barefoot Shel Silverstein on the back.

Everything's going to be okay.  I was torn between a picture of him or Tom Baker.
I know that at least a little of my problem with these books, is me (I guess the "negging" works on me, too).  It's very hard to want to absorb and move forward with something when every fifth page inspires you to wail and gnash your teeth.  I won't go so far as to say that I think all of them are frauds, as I think a number of them are simply misguided (like psychics).  Most are bad writers, and I think the ratio of bad to good is higher in this genre than others. 

We need to stop publishing these guys, and I, for one, need to stop reading them.  My big problem is focusing on what's important and doing the work.  Self-help bullshit is just another way for me avoiding focusing on the things that will really enable me to move forward, not just give me the illusion of progress.  The time I spend sneering at these books stops me from reading more interesting things, and in the long run, stops interesting things from being published.

Well, that file box isn't shrinking anytime soon, and I've got somewhere to be later.



*Not to mention that I should be working right now.  I've brought a filebox of items full this weekend, and I haven't touched it yet.
**which is probably a step in at least one of those books shown.
***I'm not denying that there's probably a lot of good advice, maybe a nugget of truth every 30 pages or so.  What I am denying is the thought that most of these books are worth the money.
****or, say, it's fiscal year end.
*****also, those kind of vicious douchebags only fuel the idea that being a "nice guy" means you're somehow entitled to sex.  There's so much sexual cluelessness in the world lately it hurts my brain.

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