Top critical review
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Promising early chapters, til it starts going on about God!
on 19 May 2013
Clients often mention they're considering buying a motivational manual and ask me if I've read it, and if so what I think of it. Mostly, my thoughts about these titles are, that the individual who benefits most, is often the writer, particularly in the case of books that are aggressively marketed and have some celebrity or other endorsing them - you all know the titles I'm talking about, right ;-) Indeed!
I'm usually curious though and will look up the title and read reviews, particularly poor reviews, a book's genuine weak points will get picked up by a number of reviewers and say more than the endless list of 5 star reviews where people claim their lives were miraculously turned around even before they finished the manual. "If something seems too good to be true, it probably is", my grandma used to say, and she was the wisest and most content woman I ever knew. And guess what, she never charged anyone for coming to her house and sitting down with a cup of tea and a piece of cake for a good old chat.
Having read the negative reviews, I'll tend not to waste my money on the titles suggested, feeling positive human relationships, and secure attachments to actual people is probably a better way to build lasting self-esteem than abstract teachings from a writer.
But this title didn't seem obviously bad from the outset, so I bought it and thought I'd give it a go. If it turned out to have merit, I'd endorse it to others, if it didn't I wouldn't.
It does have an incredibly positive start and I found it very readable and genuinely interesting. And then I got to Chapter 3, which, after telling me I needed to let go of my attachment to negative powers from my childhood - critical or abusive parents, teachers and others, which, as a therapist myself, I certainly concur with - it started telling me I was a child of God and I should put all my faith in him!
As a humanist, I completely switched off at this point. As a therapist I wondered why the writer didn't think people could fulfil their potential without replacing one set of authority figures, with another. I mean there's a kind of irony in that, right? That's kind of suggesting, something will always have power over you, but if you replace your old "Gods" (parents, teachers, peers etc) with the author's idea of a religious "God", then you'll be on the winning team and you'll never struggle to pay your gas bill again.
"If something seems too good to be true, then it probably is."
I am more of the opinion, that true inner power and self-belief comes from within us, not attachment to religion or these cult-style manuals, which tend to require you to follow the doctrine without ever questioning any of it - very much like a religious cult, and dismissing the people who used to have power over you and replacing them with new leaders whose teachings must be followed (and often practised every day, if you want to remain part of the club).
Life as a human being, isn't abstract, it's very real, very physical, and I believe positive attachments with other human beings you can relate to and learn, over time, to build trust with, is a more genuine - albeit harder and less instant - way to achieve happiness and a sense of being respected and loved. So I'll continue to advise people seeking a more rewarding experience of life, to join local groups and meet people who have similar interests and to build up a friendship network over many months and years.
Though of course, this is just my own opinion :-)