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The 2 Types of Self-Development ADDICTION (& How to Overcome Them)

21 July 2011 3 Comments

african american woman reading

Trying to develop yourself can be a tricky thing, because sometimes the whole process BACKFIRES on you like legal or medical malpractice.

If you’re not careful, you can end up wasting maaaad money…or have a crib full of foolish gadgets and gizmos that you THINK look cool, but really just make you look like you need some help

One of the ways this “malpractice” happens is with what’s called “Personal Development Addiction”, which in my experience takes two forms I call (1) EXTERNAL Personal-Development Addiction, and (2) INTERNAL Personal-Development Addiction.

…because one is caused by forces outside the individual’s sphere of influence, and the second is caused by forces inside that individuals own psyche. Knowledge this:

How to Medicate the External Kind

mystic guru in indiaExternal Personal Development Addiction happens whenever we:

>> blindly follow some mystical guru,

>> waste tons of money on gadgets, books, programs and “tools” but never really use them (some people even go into DEBT), or

>> otherwise waste time, energy and money on the industry’s products and have very little to show for it.

In case you haven’t noticed, self-help has become a VERY commercialized field: it dwells mostly on gimmicks (rather substance) and CAPITALIZES on people’s pain, anxiety and desperation (rather then solve it).

Good self-help marketers understand the science of CREATING problems and issues (that only THEIR products can solve) just like the pharmaceutical industry understands the science of constantly creating new diseases (that only THEIR drugs can heal).

“Deceptive Intelligence,” is all around you, and don’t think for a second that because someone’s rapping about “self-realization” or “life hacking” that they’re free from that dynamic. Many people are addicted to self-help because they’re pawns of this manipulation

This is something I’ve addressed multiple times before, so for help on deciphering between the real and the false, see post like Is the Self-Help Industry a SHAM??? or Funny Political Cartoons EXPOSE Self-Development Hoax…

How to Medicate the Internal Kind

Mascot looking depressedThe internal style of addiction is way more subtle and difficult to detect. I was just reading a book not too long ago called Healing the Shame That Binds You with a section called:

Addiction to Guilt and Shame:

“You can also be addicted to guilt in a toxic way. Toxic guilt says you have no right to be unique — to be the very person you are. To stay in toxic guilt forces you into constantly taking self-inventory. Life becomes a series of problems to be solved rather then a mystery to be lived.

Toxic guilt keeps you endlessly working on yourself and analyzing every event and transaction. There’s never a time for rest because there’s always more you need to do. Guilt puts you in yoru head a lot. Guilt is also a way to feel powerful when you are really powerless.

Statements like ‘I’ve made my mother mad.’ or ‘I’m responsible for her sickness’ are actually statements of grandiosity (because they imply a sense of control).” ~ author John Bradshaw

And that really resonated with me because, for instance, if you check out my facebook profile, under the “about me” section you’ll see the phrase: “I’m really into knowledge and self-development. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’m a knowledge-maniac, but…well…I’m a knowledge-maniac. Deal with it.”

…which is interesting, because being addicted to developing yourself is a clever way to disguise shame and guilt

In other words, because I was ashamed of things I’ve done in my past, a lot of things that I’ve learned and accomplished to better myself were done to VALIDATE me as a person…as a way to say to myself, “I really am okay…look.”

african american male depressed

Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with trying to be a better person and accomplish more in life, but when the primary MOTIVATION for that is to make you okay as a person, you’re heading down a path that knows no end and contains no satisfaction.

It’s just difficult to see that that’s what you’re really doing, because it’s hidden subconsciously.

Concluding Thoughts

The point I’m making here is twofold:

1.) Take the time to sit down and analyze WHY you’re striving to accomplish or develop yourself, and

2.) You need to FORGIVE yourself for the mistakes you’ve made in the past (even the most jacked up ones), because if you don’t, NOTHING you do or accomplish will “atone” for it. The demons will always haunt you…

For a good portion of my life, I was really no different then someone who wanted a fancy car or a brand-new watch to feel important, it’s just that I disguised it under other, more constructive terms. Don’t let that be you…



  • Nikki said:

    Thank you so much for posting this perspective on self help. I read your blog regularly, and just really appreciate the honesty that you express regarding your own story in order to motivate your readers.

  • Bryan Ogilvie (author) said:

    Thanks Nikki…I guess it wouldn’t be too much of advice unless I could “show and prove” in my own history, so I try to always relate it back.

    It actually took me several days to write this…it started with some good raw ideas but took time to develop into something that wouldn’t make me feel subconscious.

    Thanks again…

  • Thomas said:

    Thanks for the good advice. I am a recovering addict and am trying very hard to change many of my behaviors. It is interesting to find how difficult it really is to change your own life. It requires a ton of work and can be difficult to recognize the ill thoughts or behaviors, since most of the time you would be doing them if you saw them as ill behaviors in the first place. I like the idea of forming possitive addictions and not negative addictions. There are so many types of addiction. Each alter your brain slightly differently. If you’re looking for interesting info. Check out the studies of addiction on the brain.

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