Are You a Self-Help Junkie? (Part Two)

  Here is the second part of an interview I recently conducted with Laura Gevanter. With a degree in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst already under her belt, Laura attained her Life Coaching certification from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching in New York City. (Her coaching practice is called Present Tense Coaching).  She is also the host of the Life in the Present Tense blog radio program.  I think you’ll find Laura’s take on the five reasons people get stuck with self-help interesting.

I had just asked Laura to explain the five reasons she’s identified that people get stuck using self-help.  Here are the other two reasons:

4) One size does not fit all.  How does this action feel to you? Does the thought of it make you excited or is it something you will dread? Another thing you see in many self help books is some sort of prescription for getting results. Keep a journal every night, visualize for 20 minutes each day, cut out all sugar, don’t eat after 7 pm, get 30 minutes of exercise everyday NO matter what. What is missing is that they usually don’t ask you how any of these things sound to you or what would feel better? Does it feel good to journal everyday? Does the thought of not eating after 7pm freak you out? If so, you are setting yourself up to fail which will put you right back where you started and why you got the book in the first place. You must only do things that feel/sound good to you. Or, if you do, do it, you will struggle with resistance because you are ignoring your intuition which is telling you “uh,uh…this is not the best way for us to do this. We need to enjoy the process because that is what life is really all about and why we are here to begin with”.

Here’s another reason why taking big steps might not work for a lot of people. Our brains are wired to initially resist any sort of change since it is part of the primitive survival mechanism. There is a part of the brain that sets off an alarm whenever you go veer off course from your usual routine. It’s like a thermostat that is regulated at a certain temperature. So, by taking small steps that are enjoyable, you are bypassing the part of the brain that is going to step in and tell you who’s boss and throw all your efforts out the window. Another thing about taking action that doesn’t feel good is that you are not in vibrational alignment with what it is you are trying to create, which will make it that much more difficult to attain if not impossible. You get aligned by doing what feels good. It’s really that simple.

And last but certainly not least….

5)Do you believe you can have/be/do this?  Now this is something that you will rarely see in any self-help book. The premise is usually if you want something you can have it. That’s not always the case. In reality you cannot exceed the level of your beliefs. Beliefs are just thoughts that you’ve had over and over again that you accept as truth and attract evidence of it.  So what happens is that you had an experience in childhood where you got embarrassed or failed at something and formed the belief you can’t do this or I am bad at that. Coupled with that, many people were told they weren’t good enough, don’t expect things to come easy, life is hard, etc.

So, we repeat these thoughts over and over again and they limit us in what we are actually able to achieve and succeed in. There is a ton of research out now about how our brains actually filter what information gets to the conscious part of our brains by what we focus on. So, if we have a belief that we are not good in social situations, our brain will actually go and find evidence of this (and let all that information get through and filter out all the times you were successful in social situations) therefore confirming your already faulty belief. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and most of us don’t even know this is happening.

You cannot exceed the level of your beliefs. You can look for evidence of this in your own life. Look at areas of your life that are working well and then take a look at your beliefs around this subject. Then look at areas that are not going so well. See the correlation here? What you can do is look at your beliefs around an area you want to change and see if they are still true for you. It is helpful to work with a coach on this, but you can also get really good results on your own by replacing those beliefs with new ones that serve you.

A great exercise to do is to take an outcome that you desire and ask yourself, “what would I have to believe in order for this to happen”. You’d be surprised what an eye-opening experience this is and how our beliefs can really keep us stuck. I really like the term belief modification rather than behavior modification which we so often hear. First you change your beliefs, then your behaviors will change. Not the other way around…

Greg: So now that you’ve identified these reasons which are very valid and help explain why many people may not get the results they desire, what’s next?

Laura: Well, I am in the process of writing a book, FOR self-help junkies about how to make any program work for them if they desire and I am also creating group coaching programs around this as well, as I feel people get much benefit from working together in groups in a supportive environment and I can also have a greater impact on more people than just working one-on-one which I also love. If anyone would like more information or to be added to my mailing list they can contact me at, or I’m also on FB and Twitter. And my radio show which airs on Wednesdays at 3pm EDT is


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