Today I discuss three systems that promise to reward users generously. Each has an undercurrent flowing away from the intended result. The unconscious mind receives a message opposite to the stated purpose of each system. Each proposed cure is a barrier to achievement.

Health

Promise

While in high school, I read an article about controlled sleep. That was a routine to establish complete relaxation all night long. It began with strategic placement of four pillows: one under each elbow, one under the head, and one under the knees of someone lying on zir back. The subject was instructed to repeat this rhythmic mantra until falling asleep: “going to sleep relaxed the whole night through,” coordinated over three breath cycles. There was great emphasis on becoming conscious of healthy circulation through the resting limbs. I was positive that I was feeling the blood flow in my fingers and toes, a pleasant tingling sensation.

Problem

After some months of applying this system, I was thunderstruck by a fresh realization. For no obvious reason it suddenly occurred to me that relaxed people do not live in this regimen. What I had been doing impressed on my subconscious that I was not relaxed. My mind had made me into a special needs person requiring an exceptional routine to reach a state that should be my normal condition. The treatment had perpetuated the problem.  

Program

The blazing insight did not transform me suddenly into a relaxed person. I still had anxieties and concerns that detracted from my performance. What changed inside me was my approach to those negatives. Instead of applying an artificial panacea, I undertook to apply analytical thinking instead. Surely there were causes for my discomforts, and I pursued identifying and alleviating those causes. To this day I investigate myself in a spirit of scientific investigation to program logical steps that address my needs and improve my health.

Religion

Promise

Many devotees tearfully testify to the sweetness of being saved. They express only the encouraging emotional state that they are experiencing. It is pleasant and beneficial, like the tingling in my fingers and toes. They perceive it to be the foundation of everything right in their lives.

Problem

These personal experiences of diverse individuals holding different beliefs fall short of establishing their self-generated confirmation as incontrovertible fact. These people do not explain what they are saved from—that is, why they need saving. Conscious praise for relief reveals unconscious uncertainty. An induced sense of inferiority hungers for overt medication. People are conditioned to declare themselves dirty (fallen) so they will want soap (saving). Neither aspect is positive.

I have asked a Sunday School class, “Does Christ’s atonement make you less guilty?” It was painful to witness the grimaces as people declared that they felt more guilty because their sins had increased Jesus’s suffering. They had been conditioned to praise relief while being secretly infected with destructive self-loathing from which they had to be relieved. There was superficial surface happiness hiding the overpowering undercurrent that carried them away from healthy self-appreciation. Just as the “relaxation” routine diverted me away from a relaxed state, the salvation-from-depravity syndrome blinds people to their innate goodness from which they could genuinely radiate love.

There was a temptation to respond to a YouTube “salvation” video by commenting, “When you are saved enough, your attention will turn to serving the needs of others.” Unselfishness is to blend self and other so that we solve our problems. Focusing on saving humans from depravity is depreciating them instead of appreciating their goodness. This misunderstanding of the human condition is the root of our current social gridlock. People use the metaphor “fight for …” instead of sharing their innate capacity for love. When we understand our own priceless, positive nature, we will naturally cooperate with each other. Fighting for justice is based on sin. Being just is our unspoiled state.

Program

First, I had to appreciate my own goodness. Although my parents brought me to Sunday School class that taught self-abnegation, they also taught me that I am good inside. I have previously (articles 33, 47, especially end of 84) praised my parents for their unwavering teaching that I am good inside and that I realize my joy when I share that. Evil is not a creation to be overcome. Religion is useful to the extent that it finds and promotes the light within which makes social darkness disappear without fighting.

Business

Promise

To facilitate my career change, I have devoted many hours per week to learning new skills. That has included sharing my email many places, the way I ask you to share your email with me. As a result, my inbox is always full of offers of training. Most of them are free. Common business practice is to give away the “what” and charge for the “how.” Because I’m an avid self-learner, the free portion is almost always just the dose I need.

The conscientious vendors clearly disclose that you can learn the material on your own by doing enough research in enough places and practicing diligently—the same as they have done themselves. The sales pitch is that they have condensed and packaged the material for you; you will do better if you follow their advice.

The legal profession once accommodated self-learning when one could become a lawyer by apprenticing for years in a qualified law firm. Currently the field has developed to the point that comprehensive exposure is deemed necessary. There is a basic curriculum of required instruction. Understandably, that is never free.

In a major university, questions arise that go beyond the sum of all textbooks. One special professor was talented in starting his answers at first principles and developing them with life experience. He efficiently reconstructed the material in the textbooks and then applied the extra insight of a practitioner. My law and physics degrees are worthwhile because they are rooted in this kind of apprenticeship.

Problem

The informal knowledge industry that I am joining is prone to exaggerating its benefits. Many programs consist of swipe files (pre-composed plug-in-your-details copy) and made-for-you packages (article 47). However, business judgment grows through experience. No matter what pattern I copy, if I don’t understand why it is the way it is, I will sooner or later be unprepared for a real-life situation the pattern doesn’t cover. Effective “how” must include the “why,” which is learned by practice. The hatching chick example represents that we must overcome some hardships by ourselves.

Here I consider legitimate courses, workshops, webinars, and summits. I have enjoyed hundreds of hours of them, almost all free. Typically, you have to pay to join a mastermind, a study group where students encourage each other and compare progress. Often the verbal content is not the value of the course. I get more out of observing the instructor’s thought pattern and teaching methods than I do out of the useful list of facts. As I recognize the same principles appearing from different viewpoints, I am starting to relax with confidence in my learning. I recognize the tingling in my fingers and toes.

That is exactly when it hits: real writers don’t spend all their time in courses, workshops, webinars, and summits.

Some composers and writers challenge each other in group retreats. Others are complete loners. Both types interact as professional colleagues. I realized that I am instead running from class to class expecting each one to be the magic bullet that does my work for me. It is like the controlled sleep experiment of my youth; every class teaches me unconsciously that I am not a writer yet. By pretending to be indispensable, further classes take me unconsciously away from the confidence to write. Course vendors are giving me the disease so they can sell me the medicine.

Program

After so many classes, I am starting to say the next step in the training before the teacher does. I am falsely reassured when I anticipate the correct answer. Once said, the answer is not always obeyed. Frequently I disagree with the wisdom of the course because my goal or my style is different.

Individuality counts! Right now, I am swimming against the current and telling you that my value is uniqueness. It is why I write. It is what I write. That cannot be taught.

Think of the sales resistance I have! Politely I tell the course vendor that the offer is generous and inviting. Then without buying, I retreat to my office and do what I am going to do with or without training to the contrary. It is not meeting my expenses, but I know it is the substance of my value.

Photo by Sarah Boudreau on Unsplash

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