Self-help Theory #1: Our thoughts create our reality There are some popular self-help books out there that purport the fantasy that if you simply change your thoughts about your life, you can improve all aspects of your life. This has to be one of the most harmful, and not to mention scientifically untrue, self-help claims out there. Basically, the belief is our thought process and how we think about life can attract (The Law of Attraction) what we want and what we don't want. The answer to achieving our goals lies in changing our negative thoughts.
If these kinds of claims were on any other product, a majority of us could simply go back to the store and say we would like our money back for false advertising. But sadly that is not the case with many self-help products.
Bringing about positive changes in your life involves much more than positive thinking. Merely visualizing your goals does not bring you any closer to them. One can argue that it has the opposite effect, because you spend a lot of time thinking versus taking action to get what it is you are visualizing.
What these self-help books often leave out are clear, concise steps needed to accomplish your goals in life, whatever they may be. When you set people up by telling them that all they have to do is to think about what they want or visualize success, the most common result is failure and exasperation.
Making life changes involves motivation, hard work, and sheer determination. However, there are some in the self-help industry that know all too well that there are many people who are looking for the quick fixes to their life, the ones that require very personal little effort. It feels good, initially, to read many of these popular sentiments about 'thoughts' versus 'action.'
Eventually most people who attempt to follow this line of 'good thoughts' philosophy end up blaming themselves for not being positive enough when in fact they are simply lacking the tools/resources necessary to bring about all the changes they want in their lives. People end up wasting valuable time simply thinking about what they want out of life rather than creating and following through on a realistic action plan.
In fact, the biggest cause of frustration that can come from adopting this kind of approach is failing to take into account that our lives are often based on circumstances outside of our control, such as our family and physical environment. There is no amount of thinking one can do to change, for example, being born into poverty.
There are indeed steps that many people have taken since the beginning of time to change life's circumstances. They involve action rather than intention.