In the field of self-help, thousands of books, videos, and recordings exist to help one better himself. Many books have 10 steps to achieve this or 7 steps to achieve that. Gurus and their products make many boasts and promises. Where does a person begin to try to sort through this mess? I think that many self-help books and products offered by gurus share certain common themes. I will discuss some of those common themes in this article.
Goals seem to be a common thread in self-help literature. In fact, I would say that goal setting is the most fundamental technique in the field of self-help. Many books recommend setting goals. “If you don’t know what you want, then how can you expect to get it?” the authors remind us. Some gurus use different language when talking about goals. For instance, Tony Robbins writes about “knowing your outcome.” In other words, what is the result that you are seeking? Maybe you want to be a millionaire or meet the woman of your dreams. In addition, Joe Vitale simply asks you to consider the question “What do you want?” Brian Tracy states, ?”People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.” Goals seem to be the hallmark of all of those books about positive thinking, self-improvement, personal development, success, and achievement. Therefore, if you seek to change your life it seems that you should figure out what it is that you want.
Positive self-affirmations can be a powerful tool in the quest to change your mindset. Some self-help gurus believe that positive affirmations will be accepted by your subconscious mind as truth if they are repeated often. For instance, each day you might repeat to yourself, “I am a very special, unique, and valuable person. I deserve to feelgood about myself.” Some people suggest that you keep affirmations posted on your bathroom mirror, refrigerator, and other places where you will see them each day. You could also write down some affirmations on a card that you keep in your pocket, wallet, or purse that you take out to read a few times during your day. Some people use Bible verses as affirmations. For example, Philippians 4:13 states, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I believe this was one of Norman Vincent Peale’s favorite affirmations and it helps lift many people’s spirits. Affirmations should be positive and stated in the present tense. For instance, “I have a happy and abundant life,” would be a fine affirmation.
Many self-help gurus tell us to reflect upon our beliefs because beliefs can lead to certain feelings and behaviors. For example, if a woman believes that all men cheat on their girlfriends, she may find it hard to trust a man. This belief may prevent the woman from becoming involved in a serious, loving relationship. Anthony Robbins states, “You can choose beliefs that limit you, or you can choose beliefs that support you.” Do you believe that you can succeed? Do you believe that everything happens for a reason? Do you believe that you control your destiny? Do you believe that you are a valuable person or that you are damaged goods? Beliefs can be changed by using a technique called reframing. I may believe that I will never be married because all of my previous relationships never seemed to last. However, I could reframe that belief and say, “I believe that I have learned something from every relationship I have been in. I believe that I have been developing the skills that are needed for a successful relationship. I believe that if I continue to be open to relationships and continue to learn that I will find a marriage partner one day.” In addition, another very powerful belief is, “There is no such thing as failure. There are only results.” In other words, even if something does not turn out as planned you probably still learned something from the experience. Beliefs are very powerful so be sure to reflect upon your beliefs and decide which ones are serving you well and which are limiting you.
Some experts say that the mind doesn’t know the difference between a real and imagined event. You can imagine yourself succeeding and reaching your goals. You can use mental rehearsal before an interview, a speech, or a presentation. You can visualize beating your opponent in an athletic endeavor. You can also replay pleasant memories and memories of past successes. You may have heard or read the phrase, “What the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.” Do envision success or are you plagued by images of failure? Do you replay memories of failure instead of memories of success? Take control of the images and movies you play in your mind. Visualize success and you will be more likely to achieve that success.
Modeling simply involves observing and then copying the behaviors of a successful person. However, modeling goes beyond merely copying someone’s behaviors. If you want to be successful in business, then you model a successful businessperson. You model (i.e. copy) what they do. However, you may also ask that person what beliefs have helped them become a success in the field of business. In addition, you may ask that person about their values. Moreover, you may ask that person if they have any particular mental images in their mind when they are experiencing success. For instance, I might watch videos of the Olympic champion wrestler Dan Gable to observe what techniques he uses in a wrestling match. However, I may also want to find out what beliefs and values he holds that have made him successful. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey may be a good book to read if you desire to know what successful people think and do.
Relaxation can enhance your life tremendously. Meditation, autogenic training, self-hypnosis, progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing can all be used to help one relax. Relaxation may help lower stress and anxiety. Relaxation may help to bring about a feeling of inner peace. Relaxation may help you to focus. According to the book Beyond Positive Thinking, “A tense person simply cannot produce effective results.” In addition, Maxwell Maltz wrote about the importance of relaxation in his book Psycho-Cybernetics. Therefore, try some different methods of relaxation and see what works for you.
Gratitude is often mentioned in books and articles related to the Law of Attraction. Some people keep gratitude diaries or journals. Some people believe that gratitude for what you have and for what you expect to receive is important for achieving your goals. You are sending a message to the universe that everything is okay and that you expect abundance in your life. Napoleon Hill even had a gratitude prayer: “I give thanks daily, not for mere riches, but for wisdom with which to recognize, embrace, and properly use the great abundance of riches I now have at my command. I have no enemies because I injure no man for any cause, but I try to benefit all with whom I come in contact by teaching them the way to enduring riches. I have more material wealth than I need because I am free from greed and covet only the material things I can use while I live.” Sometimes when you simply “count your blessings” you feel better emotionally.
There are many commonalities among self-help books and programs. These are simply a few that I have noticed. Maybe these ideas and techniques are common because they work. Therefore, apply some of these concepts in your life and see what happens.
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