Why I Hate The Secret

The Truth About ‘The Secret’ (The Most Terrible Self-Help Book I Have Ever Read)

I hate The Secret. There. I said it. Can’t go back now.

I know I’m a self-help blogger, and this book is like a bible to those who like to consume self-help content, but I hate it. It’s a godawful book and I feel like I need to tell you why.

I feel like every generation has it’s own self-help book, at least in the past century. In 1936, Napoleon Hill did it first with Think And Grow Rich. Hill was also a fraud by the way, which shouldn’t be all that surprising. This is a really interesting 20,000 word longread I recommend. Twenty years later, The Power of Positive Thinking was all the rage, written by the guy who was also Donald Trump’s pastor when he was a child. Which is just a weird fun fact I wanted to share.

And for our generation, it’s Rhonda Byrne’s The Secret, a short book that describes the so-called ‘law of attraction’. A philosophical concept that basically comes down to this: if you want to attract positive things, you need to think positive thoughts.

Each of those self-help books, from Napoleon Hill to Rhona Byrne and many books that were published in between, focus on the same ideas, each tailored for its own generation. Think and Grow Rich was released in the time of the Great Depression, and mostly focused on making money. ‘The Secret’, launched in the age of social media and the smartphone, reads very self-centered. It’s full of questionable advice, superstitious bullshit and entitlement. I believe that anyone who reads this and applies the advice given will be off worse in the end. But first, let me explain the main points in the book, so you don’t have to read it and instead, can read something that’s actually worth your time.

What’s ‘The Secret’ anyways?

The book is simply a rehash of ‘The Law of Attraction’: the belief that whatever consumes your thoughts will be what you end up getting in life. So if you only focus on the things you don’t want, you will only get those things. And if you focus on the things you do want – a nice house, lots of money, happiness, a good job – you will get those things.

“Thoughts are magnetic, and thoughts have a frequency. As you think thoughts, they are sent out into the Universe, and they magnetically attract all like things that are on the same frequency. Everything sent out returns to the source – you.” ― Rhonda Byrne, The Secret

There aren’t many self-help books that bother explaining why the law of attraction works, but Byrne gives some half-ass explanation about the universe and how it’s made up of energy and that all energy has a frequency. Your thoughts also emit a certain frequency, and therefore the frequency of your thoughts will resonate with the frequency of other energies. Or something like that. It sounds just as weird as it is. Read More »

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How To Get The Most Out of Self-Help Books: 5 Tips

You know how some people treat their books like sacred beings that need to be protected at all times? Yeah, that’s not me.

I’ve been reading self-help books for a long time, and throughout the years I’ve perfected the way I’m reading them: because in the end, it’s not about reading the book, it’s about applying what you read. 

So I thought I would share five things I do with every self-help book I read, to help you get the most out of them!

Read actively

Don’t be afraid to highlight passages that you like and write notes on the pages. I do it all the time! I believe reading should be an active experience, not a passive experience. Doing this somehow helps me to take in the information better and it’s a nice point of reference if I ever want to go back to the book – something I often to with self-help books.

Stop reading shit books

Give it 50, maybe 75 pages. If the book is not for you, put it down. Seems really straightforward, but many people are so determined to finish a book when they start, and it’s a waste of time! We’re all individuals, and some self-help books are not for us. That’s totally okay. Life is short, read books that matter to you. Some books that I’ve been loving recently:

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Building Confidence And Self-Esteem: 3 Things That Helped Me

In my opinion, the importance of confidence and having a high opinion of yourself is vastly underrated. We act like having confidence would be nice, but it’s not a necessity.

Guess what. It totally is.

I think there is some confusion as to what it actually means to have self-esteem. Some people think that having lots of friends and being successful will improve our self-esteem. Others think that losing weight will get rid of their low self-esteem. Or that you have to actually accomplish something in order to be able to have self-esteem in the first place.

None of that is true. Put simple, Self-esteem just means that you appreciate yourself for who you are, including your faults and flaws. Self-esteem means that you know you are worthy, that you are good enough and you deserve everything you have.

In the past few years, I’ve really improved my self-esteem. I went from being a girl who thought she wasn’t worth the space she took up in a classroom, to a passionate, much more confident person that has come to appreciate her own strong personality. Of course, not every day is amazing, but I mostly feel good about who I am and I take pride in the things I stand for and my abilities and accomplishments. Today, I want to share three things that have really helped me get there.

Take a self-esteem inventory

‘You can’t fix what you don’t know’ is a sentence one of my therapists once said to me. It always stuck with me. Before we can start working on our self-image, we need to identify irrational thoughts and negative self-talk.

When I was in therapy at the age of fourteen, my therapist made me draw a line on a piece of paper. On the left side, she wanted me to list 10 strengths, and on the right side 10 weaknesses. I didn’t have a lot of difficulty coming up with ten weaknesses, but it was hard to come up with the strengths. My therapist made me look at it from a different perspective: had others told me they thought I was a good at something? I recalled times where people had called me smart, witty, a good writer. People had told me that they enjoyed my blog posts (man I’ve been around for a while) and they thought I told cool stories. Viewing it from this perspective, it was much easier to come up with 10 strengths.

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positive thinking

Why Thinking Positively Doesn’t Always Work (And What to do Instead)

As a self-help blogger, something I see a lot in this community is the notion that ”positive thinking” can change your life, and that it’s all you need to change your life.

Personally, I believe that positive thinking has a place in this community, and it’s important to take a critical look at your own thought patterns, but it’s not the end-all solution to all of your life problems.

[unpopular opinion] Positive thinking will not solve all of your problems. In fact, thinking that positive thinking is all you need to feel better and become this success machine is quite a dangerous way of thinking. [/unpopular opinion]

But please don’t crucify me just yet. Read More »

I Have Concealed Anxiety, Here Are 5 Things You Need To Know About It

I have anxiety.

But you would never know unless I told you.

That’s because just like many others, I conceal my anxiety. And although I consider myself to be pretty good at it, that doesn’t mean my anxiety doesn’t influence some of my decisions and behavioral patterns. I’m trying to open up more about my struggles with my mental health on this blog, which is why I want to talk about my anxiety today.

Of course, my experience with concealed anxiety might not be the same as someone else’s, but I can really only speak for myself, ane maybe a tiny bit for the other people in my life that I know that suffer from (concealed) anxiety. Here we go.

They come across as introverted and outgoing at the same time

It’s not that people with concealed anxiety are anti-social (at least I don’t consider myself to be anti-social), it’s that I often get overwhelmed easily. Whenever I spend time outside the house, I need time to recharge myself. Alone. But I love going out at the same time, so sometimes it annoys me that I need to do that. If I don’t take the time to recharge myself, I become a lot more irritable, tired and emotional.

They’re hyper-aware of their surroundings, but you would never know

Anxiety naturally makes you hyper-conscious of your surroundings, as it is an evolutionary function that is essentially meant to help us stay alive by being aware of other people’s motives. Of course, it’s not not that great when your anxiety is through the roof and you can’t manage is effectively. But you might notice every once in a while that I pay attention more than you’re used to from other people.

I kind of like that about myself, I’m very detail-oriented and I will often notice things about someone no one else does.

They’re not always panicking on the inside, anxiety manifests itself in many different feelings

Having concealed anxiety doesn’t mean that I constantly panic about every little thing. My anxiety manifests itself in constant worry, making things bigger than they are, and just competing thoughts in general. Read More »

Why Women Apologize More Than Men (And What We Can Do About It)

A while back, I started keeping track of how often I actually apologize in my daily life. It was brought to my attention by a friend after spending some time with her at the mall.

”You always apologize” she said.

I wanted to get defensive and tell her that it really wasn’t that bad – until I realized I really do apologize a lot. In just two days, I apologized for the following things:

  • I’m sorry for being in your way
  • I’m sorry for getting back to you so late
  • I’m sorry for having to ask this
  • (In a meeting) I’m sorry, before we move on..
  • (On the phone) I’m sorry, before you hang up..

And once I even said ”I’m sorry for apologizing so much” which took the freaking cake.

Can you relate? Do you wish you could stop? I certainly did. I did a little research to help understand this habit better, and then experimented with my way of speaking a bit, and I think I found a good solution!

Women apologize more than men

If you think you hear women apologize more often than men, you’re completely right.

“Men aren’t actively resisting apologizing because they think it will make them appear weak or because they don’t want to take responsibility for their actions,” said study researcher Karina Schumann, a student at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

“It seems to be that when they think they’ve done something wrong they do apologize just as frequently as when women think they’ve done something wrong. It’s just that they think they’ve done fewer things wrong.”

The threshold for what women think is offensive is lower in general, which is why we apologize a lot more. We tend to think we’re a lot more offensive than we actually are, even if the person we’re communicating with isn’t even offended in the first place.

I know from personal experience that saying sorry is something I do out of habit, ‘just in case’ someone is offended: I’d rather say sorry then to be seen as unmotivated or lazy. But what this research doesn’t tell us is why women are so much more apologetic than men. Read More »

Fear of Failure: How to Tell if You Suffer From it & What To Do

I took a writing class when I was in University. The teacher was wonderful, and she had us do tons of writing exercises every week. One week, she made us write the first draft of a story. By hand.

We had one hour, and the class wrote. And wrote. And wrote. Almost no one finished their story, because we were writing it by hand and there was no way to edit it. In the end, the teacher told us we were doing it wrong, because we tried to write our story perfectly. 

”This exercise isn’t about doing it perfectly. It’s about getting it done.

I knew then and there that was something I struggled with. I didn’t want to do anything less than perfect, scared that she would read my story and not like it, which to me, was the worst kind of failing.

The next lesson, she had us do the writing exercise again. This time, my handwriting was sloppy, my sentences weren’t perfect and I hated the dialogue in my story. But I finished it, and it felt great. It’s important to just finish it, you can always edit later was a lesson I learned that day.

Fear of failure is a very real reaction of your mind – it protects you from perceived threats, for the most part. It’s not wrong to fear failure on some cases, but when it dictates your life, it can definitely become a problem.

7 Signs You May Have Fear of Failure

Note: the following are not official diagnostics, but these characteristics are common in people that have an extreme fear of failure.

  • Failing makes you worry about what other people think of you
  • You compare your failures with the failures of other people
  • Failing makes you worry about how capable you are
  • You tell people beforehand that you don’t expect to succeed in something
  • You apologize beforehand just in case you fail
  • Once you fail at something, it’s difficult to imagine what you could have done to prevent the failure
  • you often get headaches, stomach aches, sweaty hands and other anxiety symptoms when you’re fearing a failure

I Have Fear of Failure, What Now?

The biggest problem people with fear of failure deal with is that the feeling is often unconscious. It’s not as simple as just shutting it off.

One of the most common moments to feel the fear of failure is when you’re doing something that’s outside your comfort zone. Your comfort zone is more than just a concept; pushing these boundaries trigger very real neuro-physiological reactions of the mind’s threat system. If you stay within these boundaries, you will feel safe, there will be no fear of failure. But if you’re brave and get outside of your comfort zone (where all the  magic happens) you will have to deal with that feeling – fearing failure often feels unsafe, uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing.

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