Funny Compliment

Compliments can be really interesting things.

Here’s one I got sent that made me stop and think…

“I enjoy your insights on your blog and have been inspired several times to keep striving for what I am capable of attaining.”

I think this sentence is incredibly funny. This type of comment happens to me so often in my counseling work. I love these compliments, and yet I still scratch my head about them.

Let me explain…

If anyone can find a more downbeat, irritated, question-all-right-answers, and sometimes just downright negative blog about self-help and success, then let me know. I haven’t found one yet, but if there is I’d love to visit it.

Self help seems to come in 2 main forms.

One is the positivity type. You know the stuff. Affirmations, Law of Attraction, Unlimited Success, and on and on. Life is wonderful, and you’ve just got to believe it enough and it will be so.

I don’t buy it. It doesn’t make sense to me. To me this approach reeks of Western, democratic,  human-centered arrogance, and it sets more people on a path of disappointment than success.

The other main form of self help seems to be the “get real” type.

Now this one makes more sense to me. In fact a few years back I spent about a month watching Dr Phil episodes until I was doing him in my sleep, and I get this. I also recognize that AA is a successful model for a proportion of people.

The problem is the lack of uniform results with this “get real” version. If all it took was to honestly face the problems and then get started on fixing them then more people would do it. The results would be obvious once someone got started and although they might ‘relapse’ on occasion, they would learn to get back to what worked soon enough. But they don’t.

Both approaches, “being positive” and “getting real”, do work for certain people at certain times. But success is not certain with either method.

And if you don’t succeed, well you didn’t believe enough, you didn’t trust enough, or you weren’t really being honest enough with yourself.

There is a third type of self help which seems to be much less common because it doesn’t really seem to be self help at all. How can it be helpful to be negative? How can it be sensible to believe in things that are irrational? How can believing that you are more often wrong than right actually create any success at all?

Well these paradoxes are what my work is about, and I think it taps into something important. Important enough that people give me back comments like the one above.

If you’ve not found the success you want in your life, you’ve probably been trying the 2 approaches I mentioned above.


You may have come to the right place.

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-Dr Martin W. Russell

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