How Personal Development Videos And Gurus Nearly Killed Me
17 March 2017
It is weird, but somehow in my quest for personal growth I ended up with an almost adverse result: a complete personal stagnation, personal decline and a near death experience of my true self.
You know I am a strong believer that life is all about progress and improvement. It is a constant quest to be better at what I do and become a better, more realized person as a result.
But despite my good characteristics, I am perfectly aware that I am not a perfect person. And that yes, some help from experts should always be welcome.
How lucky was I that I had access to a computer and the internet – all the personal growth content I could possibly imagine was right there. Only a couple clicks away.
And the clicking began.
It Was All So Attractive And Easily Accessible
Literally, it took me just a few minutes to come up with an arsenal of personal development tools.
I found the personal growth books.
I found the personal growth gurus.
I found the personal growth videos.
I found the personal growth blogs.
Basically, I found all I thought I could ever need to start this marvelous adventure of personal development. Enough content to last me a lifetime.
Kid in a candy store seems like an appropriate analogy.
And so of course, I dived in.
Welcoming A New Addiction In My Life
In no time I was consuming all these pieces of media every single damn day.
Or was it consuming me? Who knows…
At that time, I was sure I was the one doing the consuming.
Hell, I even stopped listening to my beloved music while working. These personal growth pieces of content became the constant companions to my long hours of work.
Where once was Megadeth, now was Tim Ferriss’s voice. Where once was Tom Waits, now was Michael Hyatt.
My fun breaks from work that I used to spend watching interesting, cool or instructional videos on YouTube (sure, I won’t lie, a few FAIL ARMY videos are usually in the mix) were soon replaced by 1 or 2 hour long conferences by Tony Robbins.
Oh and don’t get me started on binge-watching Ted Talks videos. It was marathons of video after video I could get my eyes on. Even those Ted Talks about topics I couldn’t give two f*cks about: “The surprisingly logical minds of babies“… seriously, what was I thinking?
I’m positive I watched them all.
Me, after a week of self-help content abstinence. Severe withdrawal symptoms appear.
The False Joy Of Experiencing Personal Growth From Online Content
You know, once you are in it, you are… totally in and it ain’t easy to get out.
There is a reason why I called this an addiction in the previous subheading of this article. Here is why:
When you first start to give all these gurus a try and start applying all their tips in your life, you will actually see a difference. Maybe a slight difference, but some things do seem to get a little better.
Or so you think.
You learn how to make better use of your time by following a few proven steps.
And you know, it kinda works. It does.
They’ll show you how to improve your communication skills and confidence just by awakening your mental powers.
Guess what? As crazy and far-fatched as it sounds, some of those things they teach, they work.
Here is where I draw the parallel with any other addiction: you try a small dose, you taste its magic. You try it a bit more, you get high in its apparent charm and praise its potential.
And then, before you know, you can’t get enough of it.
I Really Couldn’t Get Enough
Who knows how things happened or how it all evolved to such a ridiculous point.
I was spending hours and hours of my days thinking about the most absurd crap, all of it triggered by my uncontainable consumption of this content:
“Wait a moment! Am I projecting my voice properly? Is my diaphragm working against me?” (I still have no idea what the diaphragm is or how it works).
“Why am I still using passive sentence constructions? Come on, Ed, get your shit together, always use the active voice to be more persuasive!”
“Oh man, I’m screwing it all up by not having my own personal journal (something I’ve never ever had any interest in for my whole 31 years). My future’s doomed. That’s it. I’m doomed.”
I would liken this to being a full time junkie at that point.
It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say I was a couple weeks away from begging people on the street for money so that I could have buy Gary Vaynerchuk’s latest book.
It all was completely out of control and it was not doing me any good anymore. All I was getting from it at that point was an endless and crushing amount of self-consciousness and stress from over thinking even the tiniest, most insignificant thing I did.
I was becoming a completely different person. Everything that made me who I am, good or bad, was slowly disappearing. I was really losing myself.
What’s worse. I wasn’t even sure who I was anymore. I felt like a Frankenstein devoid of any authentic personality.
At that moment I knew it was high time I had the serious talk with myself: Ed, it is time to stop!
“There must be some motivational books in here for sure…”
And So I Stopped (Well, Sorta Kinda)
As with any addiction, relapse is common and I had my occasional fix. And my YouTube recommendations didn’t seem to help at all.
Eventually I left the “addiction” behind. This doesn’t necessarily mean I stopped watching or reading any content that is aimed at helping me improve specific parts of my life (or the way how I live my life) – I still enjoy the rare video or maybe a certain article will have such an appealing title that I can’t resist.
But I have learned how to distance myself and my own personality traits from everything they say. Now I can simply take in the information provided, analyze it, criticize it, come up with my own conclusions and carefully select which of it is useful for me.
And simply ignore the rest.
The Surprisingly Good Outcome From This Mess (Lesson Learned)
I am aware that the title of this article might’ve come across as a big of an exaggeration. Well, it kind of was.
But looking back, I can see how this fixation nearly killed me, not in the physical sense, but in an emotional way. All my beliefs about myself as a person, all of my very own personality traits that make me who I am, were, in fact, almost dead.
So, just to wrap it up, I would just like to share with you a good lesson I got from this whole experience.
And I am aware, it is a cliché and cheesy as hell – you can call it whatever you want, but I did come out with a new found appreciation for my good and my bad. My virtues and my flaws feel even more real now and I feel like I can happily embrace them and accept them as part of who I am.
Is personal growth that comes from outside sources of inspiration really bad as I make it sound?
Nah! I don’t think so, I just was just too darn dumb and let it go too far. Furthermore, If you pair this with the fact that I have some strong self-doubt issues (which I work on every single day, but now I fight it mostly from within), you can see where this can go terribly, terribly wrong.
Learn to appreciate who you are as a person. Work on developing your personal traits, but always within your own set boundaries.
Take one single step at a time and don’t try to make several changes all at once. Trust me, you will be running the huge risk of losing yourself along the process.
After all, none of us are perfect (not even all these gurus) and aiming for perfection will only guarantee a miserable failure.
A Final Question For You
What is your opinion on personal growth and self-help type of content and/or authors? Useful? Useless? Come on, leave a comment below!
Honestly, I can’t believe how I got into this big mess, but I’d love to read your thoughts. I can’t be alone in this one, please tell me I’m not.
PS. A note to all the authors, motivational speakers and media gurus that I specifically called out in this article (and also to those who were left unmentioned): don’t get me wrong, don’t hate me, guys. I applaud what you do, the conviction you do it with and your good intentions. I have learned so much from you, it is just my addictive nature that got in the way. You were only – and unintentionally – my drug dealers.
Thank you for reading. Peace out.